Wednesday, December 14, 2022

2023 race schedule

The release of the schedule is always an exciting time for us at HMF, a time to look forward, think creatively on new ideas and improve on what we've done in the past.

This year comes with a different exciting element - the transition of leadership to Josh Miller, who will take over as president of the Hartford Marathon Foundation on January 1. Currently serving as vice president, Josh has a long history with HMF. Having volunteered with his dad at the marathon since his early years, Josh then served on the race operations team during events and eventually as an intern in college. He started working in a full time role more than a decade ago and hasn't looked back since - you're certain to know his familiar face from events through the years!

You'll be hearing from him over the next few months as we communicate detailed plans on each of the 2023 events. In the meantime, expect a focus on the race traditions you know and love, with the return of signature races, including:

Mystic Half Marathon & 10K - May 21

UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K & 5K - June 3

Surftown Half Marathon, 5K & Relay, presented by Westerly Hospital - September 10

Our flagship event will be celebrating its 30th running this year, the Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Team 26.2 Relay and Charity 5K on October 14.

In an effort to ramp back up to full speed for enthusiastic participants and inspire those who may have lost their running bug, we're excited to bring more options in challenges and series:

Lucky Challenge - O'fficially kick off the 2023 season with four festive St. Paddy's themed 5K races to run or walk in March. Participants in all 4 (in-person or virtual combos) earn the blingy O'race medal and the luck of the Irish, with cheers from HMF at every race finish line. Slainte!

Bunch of 10Ks - Ramp up spring racing with a three-race 10K challenge in April, May and June. The bunch theme makes a change from bananas to grapes in 2023 - a healthy nod to running a bunch of great races and proudly donning a special medal after the third.

Crabby Challenge - Choose any distance in each of three beautiful shoreline races in May, July and September. These scenic courses all feature picturesque water views to fuel you through your race, with a fun medal awaiting after the third finish.

Connecticut Double - The ultimate state up from half marathon in June to full marathon distance at the Eversource Hartford Marathon. Get support and encouragement through the journey and then celebrate after your iconic finish line moment under the Arch in Hartford with an extra special medal.

Happy Trails Challenge - Go off-road in this two-race summer adventure. Enjoy your race off the beaten path in Hebron (any distance offered) and then along the river in Hartford and earn a custom shirt for participating in the June and July trail runs.

Progressive Challenge - Start at the 5K in June to kick off the three-race feat, with a 10K in August to take on as the second race. Get weekly plans and training support to work up to the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon in October and enjoy an amazing finish line moment under the arch, with a special challenge medal to celebrate the accomplishment in Bushnell Park post-race.

You'll likely notice the omission of a couple events from this preliminary schedule. We won't be starting the year with the Resolution Run, we hope to keep you motivated to move in January through the Jack Frost Challenge.

At this time, the RiMaConn Relay remains a question for 2023, though registration historically doesn't open until April. A number of factors are involved in determining if the 3-state relay is viable in the coming year. As we weigh those factors and look to create new epic adventures to rally participants, we'll be certain to keep you updated. We will continue to assess what the community is looking for and how we can best honor traditions of Hartford Marathon Foundation events while bringing new opportunities to motivate.

We so appreciate all of your incredibly kind words and show of support for Beth Shluger, founder of HMF in 1994 and our fearless leader for nearly 30 years. We all wish her well as she enjoys her retirement after such dedicated years of service to our community.

Registration will be opening next week for many 2023 events. Secure your spot early for the best pricing deal and look for more information through race web site pages next week!


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Message of Thanks from Beth Shluger for 29 years of memories

At the end of a rewarding career, I'm trying to find the right words.  Trying to express gratitude for you - for friends, colleagues, supporters and volunteers who helped me - helped us, really, to build this community of runners with a purpose beyond running.

How far we have come, since the days of these infamous hours-before-race-start stories:

1994 – 2:00 am: My husband Ken and I painted 42 miles of streets with directional arrows, year one of the Hartford Marathon.

1995 – 3:00 am: I constructed a balloon arch in the garage of City Place and trailed it through Hartford to adorn the start line.

1996 – 3:30 am: Ken and I snuck into the dark, quiet hotel kitchen to "borrow" a dozen coffee urns and make coffee for 400 volunteers.

And it continued, for 29 years.

In 2022 – After just 3 hours of sleep, the Operations team of 12 rose at 2 am to start the day's work at the Eversource Hartford Marathon.

Thank you for the memories from all of those finish lines…the marriage proposals, the many moments of pure joy, of fathers with daughters, sons with mothers, friends supporting each other.  I got to witness it all – the father carrying his disabled young son across the finish, thanking friends who raised funds through the race to purchase a wheelchair van. We witnessed our heroic medical team saving a life at the 2022 finish line.

So many people and so many moments, including one of the greatest privileges of my life: the 2013 Sandy Hook Run for the Families.

From the sweet voices of the children singing America the Beautiful, to our friend, an Irish tenor, delivering an emotional National Anthem, we strived to set the right tone - one of respect, and hope and remembrance.  And so, we brought our ship's bell and rang it 26 times – once every 5 seconds – the solemn, poignant, beautiful sound enveloped the crowd of 15,000 in complete silence.  Every 5 seconds, the bell reminded us of an angelic 6-year-old or caring, selfless educator. The sound and the significance struck us to the depths of our souls.

You all have touched me in ways I will forever cherish.  My thank-yous, in no particular order, are as earnest and genuine as all of you have been.

Thank you to all the runners, who demonstrated over and over the power and compassion of the human spirit.  Who unfailingly took their time to share stories of how they got to the finish line, literally and metaphorically. Thank you for loving what we created for you.

Thank you to the newbies, those first timers who took that first step with HMF. Through the power of inspiration, you got moving for your own health and encouraged me to create new opportunities to embrace more like you.

Thank you to the amazing people who rose in the dark of night to drive to a new place - perhaps 60, 70, 80 miles away - to join us in the labor of staging races. Through rain, cold and heat, nothing stopped those volunteers. You are part of the HMF family and honor us by making the HMF family part of yours.

Thank you to all those who said yes
when I asked 30 years ago for help, especially Chris and Peter Andrews, for being "all in, in all ways, at all times". To Art and Judy Snyder, our first and most loyal volunteers. To Jill Hallet, for being the first HMF employee, who's still with us and celebrating her 25th year. To the rest of the team, Josh, Matt, Ellen, Nancy, Liz, Genevieve, Sarah, John and the dozen more past and present employees, whose passion and commitment to our work equaled my own. Thank you.

To David Polk and Aetna for first funding this dream. To those who followed their lead to keep HMF going and growing: United Technologies, ING, and especially the people of Eversource, the best partners I could ever imagine.

Thank you to my family – mom and dad, my brothers, my children David, Olivia, Jacque and Cam.  And most of all, to Ken.  For 29 years, he has risen with me at 3 or 4 am to load trucks, fill water jugs and set traffic cones for more than 400 races.  HMF is as much his as it is mine.

And this is where I end. You have all moved me to the depths of my soul.

Thank you,