HARTFORD, October 12 – The first marathon that Ryan Smith tried to run, he fell short. On a steamy, hot day in Alabama in 2018, he collapsed with heat exhaustion.
But he was successful in his next attempt to run a marathon at last year’s Eversource Hartford Marathon, finishing second despite light but steady rain.
So, it made sense that Smith would return to Hartford. He was in Bushnell Park on Saturday and his main goal was to run a qualifying time (2:19.00) for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. “I didn’t care if I got fifth or first,” Smith said.
In his mind, a memorable race would be one with a ticket to the Olympic Trials.
Smith, 24, made it more memorable by winning his first career marathon Saturday at the 26th annual Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon and qualifying for the Olympic Trials with a winning time of 2:18.25 over the 26.2 mile course.
Smith, who lives in Auburn, Maine, beat Jeffrey Seelaus of Brooklyn, New York by nearly a minute. Seelaus was second with a time of 2:19.35 while Hartford’s Everett Hackett was third in 2:20.23.
More than 1,500 runners raced in marathon on Saturday with more than 3,700 runners in the half marathon (13.1 miles) and more than 2,000 runners in the 5K (3.1 mile) road race. There were 165 teams (five people each) competing in the relay race.
Runners were thrilled with the weather. Temperatures were in the 50s, an overcast sky provided shade and cover from the sun and it was dry.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day (to run),” said West Hartford’s Tyler Lyons, who won the 2018 Burlington to Collinsville Classic in record time. Lyons was 30rd in the half marathon with a time of 1:13.14.
Smith ran with a lead pack for more than half of the race. He got more assertive and began to pull away at the 15-mile mark. He poured it on at the 17-mile mark to take command of the race.
Marci Klimek, 32, of Brookline, Mass., won the women’s marathon race in 2:35.20. She had a comfortable lead over her challengers. The next three runners finished within 32 seconds of each other.
Katie Pallardy of New York City was second in 2:41.40, finishing just ahead of Ellie Pell of Itacha, N.Y. in 2:41.48 with Heidi Caldwell of Craftsbury Common in Vermont taking fourth in 2:42.12.
At the end, Pallardy, Pell and Caldwell hugged at the finish line. It was a sign of respect for three women who battled with each other on the course all morning long.
Farmington’s Palmer Weimann, 22, was the top area runner taking 22nd place in a time of 2:46.28. Joseph Zavalishin (83, 3:02.38) was the top runner from Avon with Brian Scully (90, 3:03.42) being the first runner from Simsbury to finish. Sean Meehan (100, 3:05.18) was the first runner from Canton to complete the marathon.
Unionville’s Sarah Frey was the first woman from Farmington to finish with a time of 3:12.08. She was 121st overall and the 18th woman to cross the finish line. The top woman from Simsbury in the marathon was Justine Medic, 34, who was 146th overall and 22nd among women with a time of 3:15.51.
Former Canton High basketball star Sarah Benedetti was the first Canton woman to complete the marathon with a time of 3:57.02 while Avon’s Jennifer Ferrigno was the first woman from Avon to begin the race.
It was a tight race in the half marathon with four runners within 60 seconds of each other at the finish line. Jonathan Phillip, 26, of Briton, Mass., won the race in 1:04.51 with West Hartford’s Sean O’Connor (1:05.27) and Arlington, Va., Clint McKelvey a close third in 1:05.46.
In the women’s half marathon, Nuhamin Bogale Ashame outlasted defending race champion Annmarie Tuxbury of New Hartford. Bogale-Ashame ran a time of 1:13.08 with Tuxbury second in 1:13.16. Lindsey Scheft of Tarrytown, N.Y. was third in 1:16.52.
In the 5K road race, Kemal Birhamu of New York City won the race in 14:51, just nine seconds ahead of New Britain’s Alex Nordstrom.
In the women’s 5K race, Avon High graduate Molly Hamel finished fifth with a time of 19:53. Hamel now lives in Dallas, Texas.