Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Season Recap: Inspiring Moments & People

There are so many moments through the season that deserve a pause, a little extra time to take it all in. We typically find ourselves running in so many directions on race days, those moments can be hard to come by. But 2013 provided us with a lot to pause for.

Start line of the 20th Running of the
ING Hartford Marathon
One moment that meant a lot to me personally was the start of the 20th Running of the Hartford Marathon. The line of excited runners stretched as far as the eye could see, from the State Capitol well beyond Bushnell Memorial Hall – an amazing sight. The gun went off and for the next 10 minutes a sea of humanity passed by, each person with hopes and anticipation about the journey they were starting. Nineteen years of hard work swelled in the form of the crowd before me. In that moment, I felt so proud of the staff and volunteers, without whom I would never have made it to that point.

Another extremely poignant moment in our year was the ringing of the ship’s bell at the start of the Sandy Hook Run for the Families. When we planned the start ceremony, I was searching to set the right tone – one of remembrance, respect and hope. Governor Malloy, Newtown’s First Selectman Pat Llodra and Reverend Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church were confirmed to speak. The music appropriately reflected the mood – Irish tenor, Lt. Kevin McCarthy of West Hartford PD would sing the National Anthem and 250 sweet young voices of the OAKE National Children’s Choir and the Travelers Choral would sing America the Beautiful. Yet, I felt we needed something else.

Ken and I at the
Sandy Hook Run for the Families
My husband, Ken, suggested that we ring our ship’s bell and we decided it should be rung 26 times – once every 5 seconds. Ken went to our sailing club and unscrewed the 35 lb. brass bell from the wall, wrapped it in a blanket and brought it home. We practiced for a week, Ken ringing it upon my queue every 5 seconds. It had to be perfect. Race morning, we began ringing the bell. The sound was perfect: solemn, poignant, a beautiful tone. By the second ring, there was complete silence in the crowd before us of 20,000 people. Complete silence. Every 5 seconds, we struck the bell, each time envisioning an angelic 6-year old or the caring face of an educator. It took a very long time to ring that bell 26 times. It struck me deep in my soul and I believe the same was felt by everyone else at the start that day.

Steve Anastasio
In addition to my personal experiences and memories, I hear countless stories about how HMF races impact other’s lives and it truly is a humbling experience each time. In 2012, I met Steve Anastasio, a wheelchair athlete who was on our Elite Inspiration Team last year. We kept in touch as he trained this year, and I was honored to watch him cross the finish line to complete his first half marathon. It was such a wonderful moment for him, and we were lucky to be part of it.

We see love in the air at our finish lines every so often too. This past year we had one proposal at the finish line of the Surftown Half Marathon & 5K, and one of our blog’s followers commented the other day that she got engaged at the finish line of the Niantic Bay Triathlon! Another couple who live along the Hartford Marathon course took it a step further and revamped unused cowbells into their wedding favors.

Each year, we get to meet so many inspiring people and experience these incredible moments. May you each have many great moments to look forward to in 2014, happy holidays!

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