As part of HYPE's mission to help young professionals become better engaged in community life and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region, the Civic Engagement Committee
creates and organizes opportunities for members to engage in civics related programming, both locally and nationally, around topics of history, politics, and community matters impacting young professionals. The Civic Connects blog series focuses on interviewing professionals organizing annual events th
at bring people together in the City and impact the community. For the October edition, HYPEster Civic Engagement Committee Vice Chair Greg Calnen interviewed Beth Shluger, President & CEO of the Hartford Marathon Foundation
Tell us about your event?
The Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon is an iconic annual event that will be celebrating its 25th year on October 13th. Started by Beth Shluger, the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s President & CEO, the goal of the event is to attract people and bring economic impact to Hartford through running, volunteering, sponsoring, or cheering!
Running is the catalyst to the event, giving people from around the world the opportunity to participate in several different events such as the HMF FitKids fun run, 5K, team relay, half marathon, and full marathon, which is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Each of the races start and end in Hartford, with the full marathon going through East Hartford and South Windsor, and the half marathon going through West Hartford and Elizabeth Park, highlighting many beautiful parts of Hartford and the region.
Not ready to complete a full race? Not a problem, the Team 26.2 Relay
allows you to break up the marathon distance between 2-5 team members, which is a great way to enjoy the race without the full commitment. Don’t love running? The Charity 5K welcomes walkers too!
How long have you been involved and what is your role?
Beth has been involved since the beginning 25 years ago as the President & CEO and the founder of the event. The foundation has grown over the years to be a year-round organization with a full-time staff and 35 events each year all around the state and in RI and MA.
How do you engage the Hartford Community?
There are a number of unique ways HMF engages the Hartford community. A new and exciting addition this year to celebrate the 25th running is the Runners Honor Roll mobile tribute. The van has traveled all around the state showcasing every runner that has taken part in any distance at October’s Hartford Marathon since 1994. 194,370 names and their finish times are featured, allowing participants to find their names and take pictures with it. A very unique way to garner excitement about the event!
In addition to helping people train to run events, HMF also supports a very large volunteer program – it takes nearly 2,500 volunteers to support the Eversource Hartford Marathon leading up to and during the event. The volunteers and runners become wonderful ambassadors, reaching out in their networks and communities to engage more people each October and through the whole HMF events calendar.
Spectators are a huge aspect to the race. Over the years, attendance has grown consistently reaching almost 70,000 participants between runners, volunteers and spectators. Those that want to come cheer on the runners and support the event can get cheer cards, information on where to watch and how to track runners they want to follow, and lots of swag including cow bells!
If budget were not an issue, what is one thing you’d like to add to this event?
The HMF strives to continue their amazing work with official charities supported through this event and aims to one day have enough money from sponsors to cover 100% of race production costs so all entry fees could go to charity. Last year, participants raised over $400,000 for charities and since its inception the race has generated over $7.2 million!
In what ways are you looking to further grow this event, and how can someone get more involved?
The best way to grow the event is through runner and walker participation. As more participants experience the race and achieve a goal, being celebrated at the amazing finish line, they will spread the word about how rewarding HMF events are. It is so important to our growth to get younger people involved. We love to have kids out there promoting exercise and finding a love of running so they can be start to set active and healthy habits young. For years, HMF has also supported the HMF FitKids in School programs, which allows middle school age kids train and run the total of a marathon or half marathon distance.
With 352 runners in the first marathon and now about 10,500 participants, there’s no wonder the event will continue to grow. Whether you’re a runner or not, get a group of friends together and head down to Hartford to see this amazing event in action. If you are interested in getting more involved feel free to contact the Hartford Marathon Foundation on Facebook or email Beth Shluger.
Look forward to seeing you there!