At 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, thousands of runners will stream out of Hartford's Bushnell Park for the ING Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon.
According to the Hartford Marathon Foundation, approximatley 7,000 of those runners will spend more than half of their race weaving through the eastern portion of West Hartford.
The Marathon course heads east from Bushnell Park, traverses Riverside Park along the Connecticut River, and passes through East Hartford and South Windsor before ending at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park.
The Half Marathon also begins and ends at Bushnell Park, but instead of heading east, the course introduced in 2010 puts a significant part of the race in West Hartford.
The course change has been a positive one for runners. "Everyone likes the course very much," said Harford Marathon Foundation Executive Director, and Race Director Beth Shluger.
Local residents have also been very supportive. Shluger said that last week, every West Hartford home along the course route was provided with a cowbell to encourage residents and spectators to get out and cheer as the runners pass by.
ING is sponsoring two "cheer zones" for the Half Marathon in West Hartford:
- Half Marathon Mile 6.5 – ING Cheer Zone: UConn campus, Troutbrook Drive, will include music, ING swag and lots of spectators! Plenty of free parking.
- Half Marathon Mile 10 – Elizabeth Park, Asylum Avenue, in the Rose Garden and surrounding formal gardens.
The ING Hartford Marathon/Half Marathon has introduced several new technologies this year, allowing spectators to track runners via Facebook, Twitter, or text alerts. In addition, all race bibs will include a QR code, which athletes can use after the race to view their own personal results page.
Shluger said that spectators can also send photos through Twitter that will appear on the Jumbotron in Bushnell Park. Snap photos during the race, and tweet them using the hashtag #INGHartford to participate.
"PowerStation has done a great job for us. They are running the whole thing," Shluger said.
Many of West Hartford's roads will have at least one lane closed for a portion of Saturday morning. Roads impacted are:
Parkville Area: Below Streets Closed 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
- Park Street
Whiting School Area: Below Streets Closed 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Morley School Area: Below Streets Closed 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
- North Quaker Lane
- Fern Street
- Troutbrook Drive (Northbound lanes)
Albany Avenue between Steele Road and Troutbrook Drive (Eastbound lanes): Closed 8:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Elizabeth Park Area: Below Streets Closed 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
- Steele Road
- Birch Road
- Interior of Elizabeth Park
Those heading to Bushnell Park should be aware that for best access to and from the area enclosed by the race route, Hartford Marathon organizers recommend using the Sisson Avenue highway entrances and exits (#46) on I-84.
Spectators waiting for their runners to cross the finish line can find exhibitors and activities in Bushnell Park. New this year is a "How To" tent where people of all ages can learn simple tasks like how to stop, drop and roll, lift weights, or do yoga poses.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation thanks residents for their support and cooperation. For additional information, visit www.inghartfordmarathon.com.