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Inaugural West Hartford Relay To Be Held in September

Organizers are hoping to have at least 20-25 teams participating in West Hartford's first team relay race.

Two West Hartford women are hoping that runners of all ages and abilities embrace the concept of a team relay race, and register to run in the inaugural 40-mile West Hartford Relay scheduled for this September.

Kim Iacovazzi and Sarah Fite, both veteran participant in the New Hampshire , love the camaraderie and challenge of a relay race.

"This whole thing evolved because Sarah and I do Reach the Beach every year," said Iacovazzi. "It's about fun, and endurance, but as much as I love it, it's a pain," she said. Although the race itself takes approximately 24 hours (it's just over 200 miles in length, and run by teams of 6-12 people), the entire experience is more like 60 hours, she said. There's travel time to New Hampshire, expense associated with lodging, and the need to find child care for a few days.

Iacovazzi used to live in Oregon, and there was a local relay that she enjoyed participating in. "I love the idea of a team concept; it's so nice to come together as a group, and it may even make you go a little faster," she said. It's also a great opportunity to run a distance other than a 10K or half marathon.

Iacovazzi is a veteran runner, and fitness enthusiast who is also a spin instructor at Big Sky and . However, she and Fite want this race to attract runners of all levels.

The entire race will start and end in the parking lot, which will also serve as a transition zone for each 5-mile leg of the relay. Although Iacovazzi thinks the race will mostly attract four-person teams, that will run two legs of five miles each, it's also open to teams of two or eight.

The race is strategically planned to be three weeks before the ING Hartford Marathon, so that it can be a final training run for participants.

Runners on an eight-person team will only have to run one leg of five miles, and Iacovazzi hopes that option will bring in kids, just as the Manchester Road Race attracts young runners.

And the kids will ultimately benefit from the success of the race, since organizers plan to donate proceeds to the physical education department to inspire fitness.

The cost to participate is based on the team size, but breaks down to $50 per person ($100 for a two-person team, $200 for a four-person team, and $400 for an eight-person team). Registration information is available on the race's website.

Prizes will be awarded to teams in male, female, mixed, and corporate divisions are available.

There are already 12 to 13 teams signed up, Iacovazzi said, and they are hoping for 20 to 25 the first year. "I hope it grows every year," she said.

Max Restaurant Group has signed on as the title sponsor, and Bouvier Insurance is also a sponsor. Road ID will supply the bibs. There will be a DJ supplying music throughout the day, and Rocky, the Rock Cats mascot, will also be in attendance. They hope to have a bouncy house, too.

Iacovazzi's husband Vito has also been working tirelessly to make the event a success.

"We do these races, but so many people never get to experience a relay. It's fun!" Iacovazzi said. "I hope people enjoy it."

The race begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.

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