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Hartford Marathon returns with thousands running, cheering, and celebrating

It's been two years since runners gathered together to challenge themselves and raise money for several charities.

HARTFORD, Conn. — The sound of an air horn sent months worth of preparation into motion on Saturday morning, as runners all took off at the sound at the Hartford Marathon.

"For the past year now, everything’s been focused on peaking for today," said Alex Norstrom. And all that training paid off for Alex -- he won the men’s marathon. (You can find full race results here.)

“To be here and have everything pretty much go right is awesome," he said. “I have plenty of friends and family running the race as well, so I’m just proud for them as I am happy for myself.”

Alex was just one of thousands of people who took over the streets of Hartford, returning to the capital city after the pandemic meant last year's race had to be held virtually. 

Elizabeth Johnston, Marketing Director for the Hartford Marathon Foundation, said, "It took a lot of effort, a lot of additional planning and preparation to be here right now.”

RELATED: COVID keeps Hartford Marathon runners from coming together - but only physically

Runner Jeffrey Thibodeau said "Everybody’s been... has a positive attitude, and everybody’s cheering you on. It’s a good experience. I’ve never done this before.”  

The in-person cheering and camaraderie put a smile on many faces, including that of Mayor Luke Bronin.

“You couldn’t have a more beautiful day, and it’s just great to have thousands of people back in person.” Bronin said. "We’ve had a long, hard year but events like this I think give us a lot of confidence.”

Organizers estimate about seven thousand runners participated in Saturday morning’s races, which support a long list of local charities.

And if people were just looking for some fun without doing any running, there was a lot of that happening at Bushnell Park with several vendors, live music, and even a beer garden.

Christine Jakymiw of Wethersfield enjoyed the day cheering on her niece from the sidelines. “Natalie from Newington. And I’m so proud of her. She has so much energy and I wouldn’t miss this because this is fantastic to be here.”

And for those who did run those 26.2 miles through Hartford and East Hartford, the real fun rests beyond the finish line. Thibodeau said his plans were to "have a barbecue with my friends and just hang out. Relax. Maybe take tomorrow off. It’s been a long day, long morning.”

And a long two years. 

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