Whether your friends and family have questioned your sanity as you went out on hours-long training runs, or you are part of a running circle who know the drill - everyone is happy to have friends or family cheering along on race day. This post is for your cheerleaders! We've got some tips for how they can get the most of their spectator experience.
First off - sign up for athlete tracking TODAY. Don't wait until the morning of to sign up for alerts. Best bet is to sign up to track your athlete from a computer (not a mobile device) before race day. Also - make sure everyone is aware of road closures and parking!
On race morning, enjoy the spectacular start on Capitol Ave. If your loved one is running the marathon (course map here), your next stop is Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge for miles 4 and 6. Located just a half mile from Bushnell Park, you can (quickly!) walk there before your runner gets to mile 4 on the riverfront path. Then you can stay put and catch them again at mile 6 as they leave the city on the bridge.
Once your runner passes mile 6, you can catch them again at Great River Park in East Hartford at mile 8. This is a beautiful waterfront park and great location to cheer on runners across the Founders Bridge Pedestrian walkway.
From there, you can get creative to catch up with them again, but we do recommend trying to catch your marathoner at "The Wall", mile 20 on Old Main Street in South Windsor. The phenomenon of “The Wall” evades easy definition, but runner know it when you see it—or rather, hit it. Their pace slows, sometimes considerably. Some runners say that it feels as though their legs had been filled with lead, others can’t feel their feet at all. Thought processes become a little fuzzy. Muscle coordination goes out the window, and self-doubt casts a deep shadow over the soul. Runners sure need cheering spectators here! Easy access from I-91N onto I-291.
Get back to Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge, encourage them to finish strong as they cross back into the city at mile 25. This location is a Cheering Zone and is located just a half-mile from Bushnell Park.
Cheer Zones - Along the course, Cheer Zones have music, fun and plenty of free cheering gear waiting for you. Cheer Zones located at marathon mile 4, 6 & 25; half marathon at mile 8.5. There's lot of entertainment to enjoy as well, check out the music scene by the mile here!
If you're following your half marathoner (course map here), find them around mile 8.5 at St. Mary’s House (275 Steele Road, West Hartford). With the overwhelming support from St. Mary’s Home, we have moved the Cheer Zone to their campus! There is plenty of parking on the side streets off of Steele Road.
You can catch them again around Half Marathon Mile 10 in Elizabeth Park off Asylum Avenue. Cheer on your runner amidst the flowers in the spectacular Rose Garden and surrounding formal gardens.
Everybody needs to head back to Bushnell Park to watch their runner cross the finish under the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch. They will cross the finish and then be routed around the corner onto Elm Street to enter the Finish Line Expo in Bushnell Park.
If you lose your loved one, catch up at the Family Reunion area in the Park. Grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks lined up on Elm Street or check with the Info tent for recommendations on local restaurants and coffee spots.
Have fun - and we will see you on the starting line next year (we promise you'll want in on this once you experience NU Hartford as a spectator!).