Hartford Marathon & Wickham Park Invitational

This past Saturday, within 15 minutes, I encountered two of Connecticut’s finest running events; and I wasn’t involved with either.

I was riding my bicycle to work on my normal route past Wickham Park in East Hartford and noticed a lot of school bus traffic. Cross country runners were pouring into Wickham for the 27th Wickham Park Invitational. Wickham Park has been the site of many cross country races over the years. The Invitational is usually a signal that the high school cross country season is ready to get serious. The early season dual meets have been run and the coaches are usually training their runners for a peak, just as the leaves on the trees start to fall.

In 1989, I was part of the East Catholic High School boys cross country team that used a so-so performance at this same race, as a launch pad towards our State Championship march. I remember our coach, Paul Hagerty, forcing us to train through this race (and the results showed), running hard both the week before and the week afterwards. At the race, we were terrible and still a few weeks away from getting it together. Fortunately, we did and when we returned to Wickham, we won the Class MM state title. A week after that, we took third place in the State Open, also at Wickham. That day saw the emergence of my teammate, Chris Ray, who won the individual title in a major upset over many other heavily favored runners. Conditions were atrocious with heavy rain and lots of mud on a sloppy course. I think it was that day that I learned to love conditions like that. Equally as impressive was another teammate, Dan Feehan, who finised 11th. I was like 54th. Our top five were all in the top 100 and the stunning success of Ray and Feehan made the difference. It was a glorious end to a cross country season. Those memories came back as I rode past Wickham Park on Saturday.

The other event I encountered my my ride to work, was the Hartford Marathon. This race has become one of the best marathons in the country. This year, it was run for the 15th time. Half marathon and 5km options are also offered for runners who want to go short and still get in on the vibe. Debbie has run the marathon distance race before. I’ve only done one road marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon. That was 2004, and I have vowed to never run a road marathon again. It hurt way too much. I might make one exception, and one exception only. If I get the courage, I’ll do an Ironman Triathlon. Then, I’ll have to run 26.2 on the road again. Both Debbie and I just aren’t into running roads as much anymore. Neverthess, the Hartford Marathon is a cool event. We have a lot of friends who run Hartford and this year was no exception. There were notable performances from so many runners that we know. Part of the success was the spectacular weather. If anything, the temperature may have been a touch warm. I like it chilly. Nevertheless, I’m sure most of the runners weren’t complaining about the brilliant sunshine. The weather must have made for an awesome post-race atmosphere.

We even have friends, the Fargo’s, who had to divide and conquer. One runner did Hartford (Dad) and another did Wickham (Son). That’s awesome. It must have been a great day for running.

Hartford Marathon Results

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