August 7, 2017
Other Voices

Hartford Marathon provides key economic, community value to region

Beth Shluger

In the 24 years that the Hartford Marathon has been run in Hartford, there's been no shortage of inspirational individuals, motivating stories, exemplary team work or displays of true acts of kindness in support for others. This event brings with it a great sense of pride in our Capital City, and delivers an incredible positive impact. In 2016, the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon provided the region $14.2 million in economic value, according to Witan Intelligence.

Many people hear the word marathon and automatically shut down interest in involvement — only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population has actually run a marathon (Statistic Brain Research Institute), so it's clearly not just the 26.2 mile race that makes this so special for Hartford. The annual October tradition brings out the best in the community, and it's not just about running or exclusively for athletes.

Positive energy and tremendous camaraderie are created through the participation of the residents, businesses, friends, families, volunteers, fundraisers and colleagues who come together that day. It's in the groups raising funds and awareness for local charity and community causes.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation encourages participants to run, walk, volunteer or fundraise for a cause they support, helping to add to the more than $6.9 million raised through the event since 1994. There are 20 organizations serving as official charities for the event, long-time groups that include Connecticut Children's Medical Center and New Britain's Hospital For Special Care as well as the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, the CT Chapter of the National MS Society and the UConn Foundation. Outside of these 20 local organizations, individual and group participants support countless others, using the event as a catalyst for their good deeds in support for their communities.

With the Charity 5K at the Eversource Hartford Marathon opening up more opportunities for first-time runners or walkers to participate, there's no limit on who or how participants can benefit their own health and give back to others in the community.

The incredible sense of pride is also created through the networks of volunteers who provide water and encouragement along the course, who spend the day in Bushnell Park helping direct and support visitors to the city, who serve up food and beer, who offer free massages or entertain the many in attendance. It takes 2,500 generous and hardworking volunteers to fulfill all of the needs for race week.

It's also created in the relay teams accomplishing their goal as one. The Team 26.2 Relay brings two to five people together to achieve the marathon distance as a group, a true team-building experience that benefits colleagues, families and friends every year.

It's through the support of sponsors like Eversource, United Bank, Powerstation Events and WFSB, who continue their commitment to a positive contribution for the region. It's also the partners that offer valuable in-kind services such as Hartford Hospital's expert medical team or the state-of-the-art communication equipment from Marcus Communications. And, with the new community partners program, small businesses can commit a lower investment and engage their employees in health and wellness while also allocating a portion of their sponsorship to a charity of their choice.

The positive energy is also gained through the tens of thousands of cheering spectators lining city streets and out in big groups through West Hartford. Or those dedicated cheerleaders in small bursts along the river in East Hartford or out hosting lawn parties in South Windsor.

This is a true community-centric event, providing the opportunity for participants to achieve their personal goals while giving back. It's about raising awareness and funds for meaningful charities, increasing pride in our capital and celebrating extraordinary individuals doing good for each other.

Step up and support the community on Oct. 14. There's no contribution or level of commitment too small — help keep this great event producing positive impact on the region and benefit to everyone involved.

Beth Shluger is CEO of the Hartford Marathon Foundation and race director of the 24th running of the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon.

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