Tuesday, August 24, 2021

WilliHart Relay: Hartford Public & Manchester high schools join RiMaConn Relay

The weather is looking great this Saturday for teams to take on the 95-mile RiMaConn Relay, presented by Webster Bank.  The relay for teams of three or six members will start in Lincoln, Rhode Island, run through Massachusetts and then into Connecticut to finish in Hartford.  The whole relay has 18 legs, with a special WilliHart Relay consisting of the last 6 legs for two groups of youth runners.  The two teams made up of current and former high school students from Manchester and Hartford will be hitting the course from Willimantic to Hartford.  

Meet the runners from Hartford Public High School: Philip Mitchell is the cross country and track & field coach at Hartford Public High School (HPHS). When HMF race director Josh Miller reached out about a team, Mitchell knew it was an opportunity for his runners to compete together before the school year began. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has discouraged new students from joining the HPHS team and his roster has thinned. Not to let this opportunity pass, Mitchell knew he had created a special bond with some of his recent graduates and thought the relay would be a great experience for them. 

“As a coach, one of my goals is to help foster a lifelong love of the sport and this is an indicator that I am reaching that goal,” said Philip Mitchell.

Current Hartford Public High School student Hawaye Adams  will be running the nearly 35-mile stretch from Willimantic to Hartford together with five recent graduates.              

The team of six will be each running a leg of the race.  Recent graduates Angel Alvarez (HPHS '18), Ta Mala Htoo ('20) and Aboubakar Adam, ('21) Joa Marquez Santana ('20) and Daniel Rojas ('21) will be joining Hawaye Adams for distances ranging from 3.1 miles to 8.5 miles. 

Coach Mitchell says not only is he excited for his current and former team members to compete together again and experience the WilliHart Relay as part of RiMaConn Relay, but for several of the runners this is their first road race experience.

Meet the team from Manchester High School:The team is coached by Steve O'Reilly. This will be his 14th year with the program and 12th as head coach. His Assistant Coach, Mike Bendzinski, is coaching his last Cross Country season this year and has been with the team as either head coach or assistant since 1992.  The WilliHart Relay team runners are:

Caleb Curits
Jack Larson
Abdullah Barlas
Jason Skoog
Sean Barkasy
Jamie Dykstra

“We are definitely excited to have this opportunity to do something fun and a little different to help the team bond and stay fit,” said Steve O’Reilly. They have six of their veteran runners taking part in the 36-mile relay. The boys have been training all summer long to work together for the relay. Coach O’Reilly hopes this event helps them to start their season off right by emphasizing the importance of teamwork.

Manchester competes Scholastically in the large school division for XC in the state of Connecticut.

This relay teams will end at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford, CT, with the rest of the RiMaConn Relay participants.  The post-race party runs until 9:00 p.m. and features live music, local craft beer from Hog River Brewing for participants 21+, delicious ice cream from Royal and gigantic burritos!



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

RiMaConn Relay - Meet the "Real Housewives of Worcester County"

The "Real Housewives of Worcester County" just wanted a good reason to get away from their hectic lives and spend some time together.  A 95 mile relay seems like a great way to take a break, right?  Two members of the team participated in 2019 and rallied a group for their second time running RiMaConn Relay, presented by Webster Bank. The members of the team are Amanda St. George, Rachel Foskett, Michele Loughlin, Danielle Thornbrugh, Sadie Vivenzio and Amanda White, learn a little more about what motivates them:

What inspires your team to complete this epic adventure?  We just really want a fun day away. Running is the only time we get peace and quiet. What better excuse do you need to get away from the kids and husbands?  Between the 6 of us we have 12 kids - 7 boys and 5 girls - ranging in age from 12 to 4. All of our kids play soccer, and a few of us have kids in other sports basketball, baseball,  cheerleading, horseback riding, football, rock climbing, gymnastics.  And probably more, it doesn't end.

What do you want other teams to know about you?  We are A LOT of fun, but we are REALLY slow!

What are you most excited about for race day? Most nervous about?  We are super excited to explore the course, make new memories and create new inside jokes with the girls. We are most nervous about those hills!

How did the team come together?
Two moms on the team ran at the first RiMaConn and loved it. Then we just asked other moms around town at our kids’ sporting events. Eventually we found 6 people crazy enough to do it! 

What the inspiration for the team name "Real Housewives of Worcester County"?  Four of us live in the same neighborhood...and we live in a hood that is just like those shows! Amanda W and Rachel became friends with us when our kids started school/organized sports about 4 years ago.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

RiMaConn Relay - meet team "Beer Witch Project"

Members of the Beer Witch Project are back after running the 2019 RiMaConn Relay, presented by Webster Bank.  Team captain Ian Hockley and supporters of Dylan's Wings of Change have rallied four teams of ultra runners (3-person relay) and others to participate in honor of his son Dylan, who died in the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012.  Learn more in his words about what motivates their efforts:

What inspires your team to complete this epic adventure?  We are part of a group of 400+ people who are Running for Dylan - my son who was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in December 2012. We raise money for Dylan's Wings of Change, his foundation that runs programs for kids and adults around CT and New England. We have at least 4 teams in the event this year. www.dylanswingsofchange.org 

What do you want teams to know about you?  While we are here to have a great time, we run with love in our hearts for our cause. If someone needs help or encouragement to complete a tough leg, we'll be there for you. 

What are you most excited about for race day?  Most nervous about?  I love the start, the sun is about to come up and your legs are fresh and can't wait to get the first 2-3 runs completed. Never nervous, but always waiting to see what hilarious things go wrong, because they always do!

How did the team come together?  We did the first RiMaConn and loved it. Our 6 person Ragnar team has split into 2 Ultra teams for this years race. We've run Ragnar in the US, Germany and the UK before this. We're all friends from Newtown, Connecticut, that run for a cause.