By Marcy Ritsick
LOCATION: Start: New Britain FastTrak Station,
End: Allyn Street, Downtown Hartford, CT
DATE: Sunday, April 17, 2016
LENGTH: 15k (9.3 miles) with relay option
RUNIT RATING: Awesomesauce (i.e. would run again, and recommend)
It was a brisk, sunny mid-April morning. The kind of morning where you can just really start feeling the warmth of the sun (especially through the windshield) and get a little giddy, even, with the thought of the upcoming Spring, even after the unusually warm winter.
Usually, “long-runs” are Saturdays – get them out of the way and enjoy the rest of the weekend. This weekend, however, the long-run came in the form of an event – a race!
It’s common to incorporate races into training plans for a full marathon and that’s just what Sarah and I decided to do, as we were training for the Vermont City Marathon. Why do 12 miles by ourselves (that week’s prescribed distance) when we could embark upon this unique opportunity to run through four towns along a restricted, freshly paved busway and be greeted by cheering friends, beer and barbecue at the finish! No brainer.
The FastTrak, or “busway” as it is known, is an earmarked roadway for a dedicated central-Connecticut bus system. It travels 9.3 miles (15k) from New Britain, through Newington, West Hartford, and ends in Hartford in a closed loop system with “Jersey barriers” lining its duration.
I picked up my friend, Ann, around 7am that chilly, sunny morning in my bright yellow truck and headed into Hartford to meet Sarah. We enjoyed the early Spring sunshine, and hustled across Bushnell Park to meet the tandem zero-emission fuel cell hybrid bus that would carry runners to the start line in New Britain. As we were transported on the course from point A to B, the three of us looked wide-eyed at each other thinking, “this seems MUCH longer than 9.3 miles”!
There, in the parking lot of the New Britain Station, we waited. And waited, and waited staying in the sunny spots and dodging any shade trying to keep warm.
Finally the call to toe the start line; opening remarks from the ConnDOT Commissioner and we’re off!
I started out way too fast – shocker! Clocked 27 minutes at the 3 mile mark. I decided to stop and take pictures along this training run, as that’s fun to me and running is always supposed to be FUN!
At mile 3.9 a train came gliding slowly down the tracks and again, I stopped to snap a picture as passengers waved wildly from their windows.
We continued along the sunny, exposed (read: HOT) busway for the duration of the mileage. The busway undulated with gentle uphill sections that never seemed to descend.
It was fairly non-descript but interesting noting my favorite local haunts along the way:
And finally the finish! The medals were really neat, and the post-race barbecue at a local joint hit the spot, especially the smoked macaroni & cheese and beer!
I recommend this event as long as, like everything in life, expectations are kept in check.
It’s not beautiful (I mean, there is the beauty of EVERY start and finish line and the beauty of hundreds of like-minded athletes coming together for a shared purpose, but you know what I mean), there are barely any spectators pumping you up along the way, but there are live bands, barbecue and beer at the finish. The medals are cool, and it’s a unique, interesting way to log training miles.