Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spectator Tips - Finding Your Runner

We want your friends and family to enjoy your race experience too!  We’ve collected some tips to share with spectators who want to track runners and catch up with them on the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon courses. 

Don’t wait until race morning to sign up for athlete tracking, although it’s simple to do, best to plan ahead.  Get details to set up athlete tracking here.   

Depending on when you are coming into the downtown area will determine how best to arrive (Parking early to stay downtown?  Coming in later to just catch the finish?  Parking and trying to drive to other areas?).  There’s no one right way to direct spectators, so planning ahead is key. Road closures and parking info will help spectators plan their morning. 

Most spectators don’t want to miss the spectacular start on Capitol Ave. (follow runner directions for that but be mindful of road closures if you're going to try to leave the area by car). The energy and excitement is inspiring….the National Anthem with its short pauses hushing thousands of runners, and the celebration that ensues when the start horn sounds.  

If you are coming in to watch the marathon after the start, our suggestions for arrival/parking follow, based on road closures.
       Use the highway system to enter Hartford - either I-84 or I-91.
       Use highway exits north of Asylum Street or south of Capitol Ave.
Parking (if not filled):
       Coming from the west, east, north, use 58 Chapel Street or 1212 Main Street
       Coming from the south use Front Street Garage

Watching Marathon Runners
Tracking marathon runners (course map here), your first stop from the start is Mortensen Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge.  Located just a half mile from Bushnell Park, you can quickly walk there before your runner gets to mile 4 on the riverfront path.   Stay put there to 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.

Marathon runners will meet "The Wall", mile 20 on Old Main Street in South Windsor.  The phenomenon of “The Wall” evades easy definition, but runners know it when they hit it.   Their pace often slows - some runners say that it feels as though their legs had been filled with lead or they can’t feel their feet. Muscle coordination and thought processes get shaky, and self-doubt creeps in. Runners need cheering spectators at this point, but plan ahead to get their by car.  Your best access is from Route 5, which runs parallel to Old Main St. Park on the side roads that connect through to Main St to catch your runners in this stretch.

Then, back to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza at the Founders Bridge, runners will be encouraged to finish strong as they cross back into the city at mile 25. This location is the High Five Mile, where we’ve got extra enthusiastic supporters helping to push runners to the finish.  
Spectators quickly head back to Bushnell Park to watch their runner cross under the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch to the finish.  Runners will then be routed around the corner onto Elm Street to enter the Finish Line Expo in Bushnell Park.

Catching up with Half Marathoners
Course info and map for the half are available here.  A great stop by car to catch half marathon runners is by the Mercy Community Center water station on Steel Rd in West Hartford. Set up around mile 8, there is plenty of parking on the side streets off of Steele Road to park and join the cheering section there.

You can catch half marathoners again around mile 10 in Elizabeth Park off Asylum Avenue.  Then, head back to Bushnell Park to catch runners under the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch.

If you lose your loved one, you can catch up at the Family Reunion area in the Park, check the map here.  Grab a bite to eat from one of the food vendors on Elm Street or check with the Info tent for recommendations on local restaurants and coffee spots. 

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