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  Chicago Marathon 2004 New York City Marathon 2003 Boston Marathon medal 2005 Caesar Rodney Half Marathon 2007 Anchorage 2003 Marathon Man Ray Christensen
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Hartford Marathon race shirt
ING Hartford Marathon official race shirt

2012 Hartford Marathon

The ING Hartford Marathon starts along with a Half with nearly 15,000 runners between them. It's a generally flat course winding around downtown and the Connecticut River for the first 9 miles, before a long out-and-back section. On a cold, but sunny day, the atmosphere was festive and there were a moderate amount of spectators to keep us motivated. For my 2nd consecutive 26.2, it was also helpful to see runners coming in the opposite direction for several miles.

The 19th ING Hartford Marathon was held on Saturday, October 13 and was the 2012 RRCA National Marathon Championship race, so I wore my yellow RRCA cap.

Hands-On House Half Marathon

2nd Choice Fall Marathon
This was actually my 2nd choice ING marathon. I learned too late that I had actually qualified to run the ING New York City Marathon for the first - and unfortunately last time due to standards changing from 3:30 to an incredibly difficult 3:06 (Male 50-59) in the coming years. As it turned out, NY would be cancelled at the last minute due to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the metropolitan area.

Hands-On House Half
This half marathon is on a hilly, rural course in Lancaster, PA. I drove out with fellow Pike Creek Valley Running Club member David Baca on a cool, damp Saturday (9/29) - 2 weeks before Hartford. It's a small, local race on a pretty course passing numerous Amish farms. Horses, cows & chickens watched us pass by. A couple of the hills were a bit steep and by the final miles, my biggest motivation was to try to stay with a couple of the young ladies who passed me - at least for a few steps. David and I placed in the worst 2 spots possible, 4th & 5th in our 50-54 age group. But we enjoyed the low-key atmosphere!
Official Website

1:37:52 David Baca
1:40:15 Ray Christensen

race shirt

Ray at Hands-On House Half

Hartford Marathon

Road Trip to Connecticut
Dave McCorquodale joined me for the 4 hour drive to Hartford, where we'd be conveniently staying with a Kings Point classmate of mine who ran Cross Country in college and continues to post age-group winning 5K times. Dave will also be my guest writer on our weekend activities...

Hartford Marathon
Bushnell Park Memorial Arch

Driving & Race Info
President Ray and I traveled up to Hartford, Connecticut to run the Hartford Marathon. It couldn't have been a better day to run, but the more memorable part of the weekend, for me, was visiting with Ray's friends and family.

First, the nuts and bolts of the event: The race organization works like a well-oiled machine as this event has been going on for a number of years. Over the entire festival of races (marathon, half, relay and 5K), about 15,000 participate with thousands more volunteering. The marathon had 2,530 finishers.

Getting into town on Friday for the expo was easy. A parking garage was located right across the street and we were in and out within a half hour. We took time to locate Bushnell Park, where the events are staged and which would have the post-race activities.

Frigid Race Morning
On Saturday we arose around 5:30 and got into town around 7:00. We found street parking within a couple blocks of the park. The only problem was that it was pretty cold for mid-October: 31 degrees. Fortunately the blustery wind of the previous day had lessened. With not a cloud in the sky, it was going to be sunny. Ray and I both wore throwaway shirts over our official running outfits. Ray ditched his at the start, while I kept mine on for over five miles until my almost numb hands had warmed.

At the start in front of the state capitol, the marathoners, half-marathoners and relay runners all mingled together. Ray and I shook hands and he went up nearer to the front, figuring to attempt something under 3:30. Having passed a 4:20 pacer in my last marathon, only to get re-passed and to finish in almost 4:35, I figured it would be wise to run with the 4:25 pacer. When the pacers went to position themselves, I followed the young woman who had on the 4:25 shirt. But I noticed the pacers for the 4:10 and 4:20 groups were behind me.

race bib
Ray's Bib

Race Starts Through Downtown
It was crowded and the start featured several right turns. So, for me, back in the pack, there were several minutes of halting running before things spread out enough to develop an even pace. But right away it felt like the 4:25 pacer was running too fast. I hung within yards of her and thought I was having a bad day, until I finally saw the three mile marker (the first I spotted). I was 17 seconds a mile under a ten minute pace, instead of five seconds over a ten minute pace. Soon the woman picked up her pace even more and I realized she had abandoned her role, apparently thinking that no one was with her. I settled into my own pace, which, for the most part stayed under ten minute pace, up to mile 20.

Good Conditions
The course was a fairly easy, moderately rolling course. (see video below) The hills were mainly the bridges, but the last one was at mile 25. After three miles of street, there were about six miles of running through parks along the river. Then it was out and back on a more rural road line with houses, before the last two miles in town. The scenery was not exceptional, but it also did not go through any decrepit areas either.

Ray Christensen  Ray Christensen
Ray runs Hartford - Brightroom photos

Ray finished under 3:25 and I got under 4:23, my best effort in two years (although still over nine minutes slower). The finish area offered a fair selection of food and a tag on the bib allowed for one Harpoon beer. I was a somewhat bummed that the Octoberfest was gone by the time I got a beer. Recommendation: Not a destination event, but on a cool day, it's a good course for run a good time.

Ray Christensen
Ray runs Hartford - Brightroom photos

Visiting With Runners
The more memorable part of the trip for me was visiting Ray's friends and his mother. We stayed the night before the race at Pete Lafontaine's home, about 20 miles east of Hartford and went back afterward to clean up. Pete, a classmate of Ray's at Kings Point College, was an avid runner himself. He was disappointed that he had tweaked his hamstring and couldn't run in the 5K. Afterward, he perused the results, declaring he would have been second in the 50-54 age group. His wife Judy is a cross-country coach and his sons are both cross-country runners. I slept in the bedroom of the son who is a plebe at West Point. The walls were decorated with pictures of Steve Prefontaine, Alan Webb and more recent well-known runners.

Another College Classmate
After cleaning up, we traveled west and stopped at the home of Brian Foy, another former classmate of Ray, having pizza and talking about running. His son is a freshman XC high school runner. Ray was about maxed out on hearing about XC running. Then we headed about Connecticut, into New York, arriving at the farm of Ray's mother in the Catskills at nine p.m.. Ray's parents, who lived in Queens, bought it the year Ray was born. The entire family would go out on weekends and work on it.

Experiencing the Farm
Those of you who think of Ray as mainly a website designer, have no idea about this other part of his life. The farm is 62 acres, with fields, newly planted forest and old growth forest. Two ponds (one being cleaned up), a spring which flows at several gallons per minute (all of which but the small amount taken by the family goes into the New York City reservoir which is down the hill from the farm), and three "hermitages". Yes, there are some one-room buildings in a stand of evergreen trees which nuns use for retreats. Ray drove me to the land up the road where Ray and his brothers mill lumber and he showed me the lines running from maple trees on another property for collecting the sap in late winter from which they make maple syrup.

On Sunday morning, I earned the breakfast and lunch Ray's mother provided by helping Ray stock the porch with a two-week supply of firewood and helping to clear some brush. Good exercise for flushing out the lactic acid in the legs. If you ever get a chance to travel to a race with Ray and to spend some at this farm, take it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ray even noted that with a long pond, sparsely traveled roads, and an 18 miles rolling loop around the NYC reservoir, it would be possible to put on an informal triathlon based at the farm.

See Dave's running blog

Hands-On House Half Marathon
Hands-On House Half official photo

Hands-On House Half Marathon
Hands-On House Half official photo

Hands-On House Half Marathon   Hands-On House Half Marathon
Hands-On House Half official photos

race bib  race medal
Half Bib & Medal

Race expo
Hartford Race Expo

Race expo
Downtown Hartford

Hartford Marathon
Dave in downtown Hartford

Hartford Marathon
Final 100 meters!

Hartford Marathon
Ray & Pete - college classmates

Hartford Marathon
Ray & Dave on race morning

Hartford Marathon
Race start area - Brightroom photo

Hartford Marathon
Hartford Marathon - Brightroom photo

Hartford Marathon
Hartford Marathon - Brightroom photo

Hartford Marathon
After party in park - Brightroom photo

Hartford Marathon
After party in park - Brightroom photo

Ray's Chip Time:   3:24:36
Top 12% overall - 287 of 2500 finishers
Top 9% Male (50-54) - 14 of 160 finishers

Finisher medal
Finisher medal

Beer Room
Beer Room magazine article:
'Living Well' feature on Ray had just come out

Additional Race Notes

  • I ran the first 12 miles with 3:20 pace group since I couldn't locate the 3:30 group at start.
  • The 17 mile turnaround is a welcome site after a long 7 mile leg.
  • There are several "Marathon Parties" along the Main Street leg.
  • Did my typical minimal 2 power gels at approx 10 & 20.
  • Some bands on the course, but the Hari Krishnas only seemed to know one tune.
  • Food tent included yogurt, banana, apple, bagel, Luna bars, bowl of soup, cup of apple crisp.
  • The beer garden featured 5 choices between 2 brewers including Harpoon!
  • Both male and female course records were shattered today - winning time 2:15:35.

ING race stuff

ING Hartford Marathon
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"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."

Emil Zatopek

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