Amy D...

"Every day, I stop halfway through my run for five minutes, look around, and enjoy the surroundings. I'm reminded of why I do this and why I love it so much." ANITA ORTIZ

AD was an amazing distance runner, who actually got me into distance running. I have never been a distance runner, and only used distance (5K and Cross Country) to actually train for my sprinting. During high school AD made it to states in Cross Country and I still remember to this day that I did not go. I couldn’t because I was applying early decision to my school and had to make up my portfolio on the fly…weird huh? I had stayed up that entire week and I tried to get everything done in time, but no cigar. I was so frustrated that afterwards, I mailed in my submission and took a run. This was on my usual routine hill workout in Heritage Hills, where I guess this got me loving hills so much. My mentality, was that with sprinting you have to enjoy hills, if you trained on hills and sprinted up hills, you would do better when the race was on flat ground. Get it?

The sun was shining low and sun set was glistening on the autumn leaves. I just sat there on the side of the road, just thinking. Somewhat crying, somewhat frustrated and somewhat just in content. I wanted to go up and see AD, but it was a no go for me since I had not slept in days…
Skip to college, where AD did the Boston marathon for charity…the Boston marathon? You know you’re doing the Boston marathon as your first marathon right? That is crazy! People would just die to get into the Boston marathon and she is doing this for her first race? Oh wait…I was in college back then and I didn’t have a clue about what the Boston marathon meant to so many distance runners. All I knew was that the Boston marathon was just another marathon, like the NYC marathon. Anyways, I am pretty sure that I supported her and was calling her right before her runs or right after sometimes when she talked about those Newton Hills. I didn’t have a clue about what she was talking about really when she was running all those miles. When she told me that she had ran 20 miles that day, I was like, WHAT? Are you kidding me? Ok…AD really enjoyed running this marathon, although one thing stuck out when she was done with the race, she told me that her parents went to take her out afterwards and she was just so tired, so tired that she didn’t eat anything. I think she threw up after the race as well, but I need to confirm with her. She must have really enjoyed it so much that she did the same thing the very next year…I think that is what happened…So I guess she got me into marathon running in general and told me how fun it was, so I had to try it out!

And that’s it…to this day, AD and I talk and chat over a bunch of stuff. I’m still waiting for her to do another marathon with me…that would be fun. Although she was there in many of my marathons this year alone: Steamboat Springs and Hartford. I think she will be running with me on the last mile in Boston…well…if she trains! Boston and New York are my fun marathons this year…
Should be fun!
FRIENDLIER Reusable goody bag with cups made of corn.
Published: September 26, 2008

AS a road race, the ING Hartford Marathon can’t hope to compete with the likes of its powerhouse neighbors in New York City and Boston. But in the race for environmental awareness — Hartford is the one to beat.

When the marathon steps off Oct. 11 — with about 10,000 participants across several events and another 20,000 watching — it will be part of two pilot projects that showcase Hartford as one of the premiere “green” sporting events in the nation.

Beth Shluger, the race director, said the greening of the marathon began about four years ago after United Technologies Corporation became its title sponsor (ING took over that role this year). “We were just brainstorming,” she said. “What can we do to set Hartford apart from the other 40 marathons that you can run in the fall in the country?” It was United Technologies, she said, that suggested going green.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Ms. Shluger, who created the race 15 years ago and is also the executive director of the Hartford Marathon Foundation, which organizes several races around the state. “What we’re supposed to be about is the ultimate in health, and now we were going to go even further.”

Going further turned out to be at once easy and challenging. Case in point — water.

After surveying the 2006 Bushnell Park finish line detritus of nearly 10,000 discarded water bottles, Ms. Shluger figured there had to be a better way. She went to United Technologies’ cadre of mechanically minded volunteers and said, “Whatever you can come up with.” What they came up with was a “bubbler,” which debuted at the finish line last year. It is lengths of PVC pipe with 40 classic push-button water fountains, connected by a pump to a tank of fortified water.

“I guess that’s what made us rock stars,” said Ms. Shluger, who has fielded some 50 inquiries about it from races held as far away as Zimbabwe.

She is still stumped, however, by how to handle water on the race course. Compostable corn-based cups are used for nonrace purposes, but Ms. Shluger found them too slippery and dangerous to runners who typically run right over discarded cups and spilled water at the water stations. So it’s still paper cups. “We need someone to build a new mousetrap or something,” she said.

It was the bubbler and Hartford’s long-standing environmental practices like forgoing plastic foam providing local and organic food and turning over excess food and discarded clothing to shelters that earned it one of 15 spots in a pilot project by the Council for Responsible Sport. The non-profit group is trying to establish an environmental certification system — similar to the LEED certification system for buildings — for sporting events.

“They’ve impressed me with the depth that they’re going into this,” said Jeff Henderson, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport and a race director himself. His group will be at the race monitoring Hartford’s environmental initiatives.

Volunteers will be posted at recycling bins to make sure items are deposited properly.
Medals will be bulk-wrapped instead of put in individual plastic bags with rubber bands. Running shoes can be donated for recycling in Nike’s shoe recycling program, which turns them into sports surfaces. The title sponsor ING will plant 26 trees along the race route.

Goody bags will be made from reusable materials, costing about $14,000. The bags used last year cost nothing. Over all, it is costing 7 to 10 percent more to “go green,” Ms. Shluger said.
Runners are being asked to donate money to offset a marathon foundation donation of $5,000 to NativeEnergy of Vermont, which invests in clean energy projects.

A second pilot project at the race this year involves the Heatsheets manufactured by AFM Inc. of Petaluma, Calif. The material of the thermal wraps, once nonrecyclable Mylar, is now a low-density polyethylene that can be made into lumber and other items. Hartford is among six races helping determine the best way to recyle the material in the Heatsheets.

“Hartford is really one of the pioneers in this,” said David Deigan, chairman and chief executive of AFM. “They have been going way, way further than others to make a green event.”

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