Editor's note: The foundation sponsors the annual ING Hartford Marathon being run this Saturday, starting in downtown.
Q. When did the planning start for this year's ING Hartford Marathon? How big is it expected to be? Is there anything new about this year's marathon?
A: Planning started right after last year's ING Hartford Marathon took place. Two days later, the Collar Crew met to discuss what went right and what we could improve on for this year. The Collar Crew is an extremely dedicated group of volunteers that meet throughout the whole year to plan and prepare for the ING Hartford Marathon. From that first meeting, recommendations are made that affect the next year's race.
For this year's race on October 9, we expect about 2,800 Marathon runners, nearly 6,000 half marathon participants and more than 1,500 runners in the 5K - all of them start at the same time within a block of each other in downtown Hartford.
Our biggest change this year is that the Half Marathon and Marathon run on almost entirely different courses. We are bringing the 13.1 mile Half Marathon through West Hartford, a total change from when the courses ran mostly together in years past. The full Marathon takes place on many of the same roads as in years past but in a reverse order.
The starting line of all races is also brand new. The full and half marathon participants start one block south of Bushnell Park in front of the State Capital, with 5K runners starting one block south of that. It's more likely for people to ask what's not new with the ING Hartford Marathon this year! We believe these changes will make for the best year ever and we have received great feedback on the changes.
Q. What are some of the special challenges to organizing a marathon that non-runners may not be aware of?
A: I don't think runners or spectators realize the sheer amount of planning and preparation that goes into the ING Hartford Marathon or other events we produce. There are so many facets to plan out and every facet has its own challenges. With almost 12,000 runners and about 30,000 spectators, there are a lot of details to making sure everything goes smoothly and safely. For this year's ING Hartford Marathon and the new course, the hundreds of new volunteer posts that we had to fill was a big challenge. That challenge is closely followed by handling logistics of managing fifty percent more of everything out on the course.
Q. How many people does it take to run a marathon, including paid staff and volunteers? How many in advance of the event and how many the day of the event?
A: It takes more people than I would have time to count. They are made up of 2,200 volunteers, HMF staff and dozens of companies and organizations hired to perform specific tasks. It starts with the core group of volunteers, the Collar Crew, and grows from there until its peak on the day of the race. We are grateful to so many people who continue to help make the entire race day experience successful for all.
Q. You're a former police detective. How did you end up being operations manager for the Hartford Marathon Foundation?
A: It all started with the Collar Crew - I was one of those volunteers for 12 years. I also served as the race director for the Celebrate! West Hartford 5k for several years. After almost 23 years with the West Hartford Police force, about 11 as a detective, I decided it was time to move on. When the operations manager position opened up, Beth Shluger (founder of HMF and race director of the ING Hartford Marathon) asked me if I was interested and here I am.
Q. How many marathons a year does the Hartford Marathon Foundation organize? What are they?
A: In addition to the ING Hartford Marathon, we organize more than 25 events during the year but only the one full marathon. There are five triathlons and numerous 5k's, 10k's and a Half Marathon in Simsbury.
Q. You're a runner. Is that a requirement for the job? Do you plan to run in this year's Hartford Marathon?
A: It is not a requirement but most of the individuals that are involved are runners. I can't run in the event because while everyone is enjoying it by watching or participating, I and a core group will be "running" the marathon in a different sense. Trust me when I say that at the end, we all felt like we ran it too.