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Beth Sluger retires from helm of Hartford Marathon Foundation

Beth Shluger at the finish line of the 2022 Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon last October in Bushnell Park.

Beth Shluger, the president and CEO of the non-profit Hartford Marathon Foundation, has announced her retirement at the end of this year. Shluger founded the Hartford Marathon in 1994 and the Hartford Marathon Foundation, which runs the race.

Founded by Shluger in 1994 to create a unique marathon experience now known as the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon, HMF annually produces 25-30 race events across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including the Burlington to Collinsville Classic 10K Road Race each May.

Under Shluger’s direction and creative design, event concepts were developed to be inclusive to runners of all capabilities and demographics, as well as welcome walkers, families and children to encourage a broader audience to get moving for physical and mental health benefits.

With a mission to inspire participants to be active, HMF has thoughtfully produced events from traditional 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races to fun runs, virtual races and challenges, multi-state relays, group runs, training programs and fitness events.

The flagship race of the Hartford Marathon Foundation is the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon each October. An estimated $185 million in economic boost can be traced back to race weekend since reporting began through the VISION Economic Value study.

The event has provided a platform for local charities to raise funds and awareness for important community causes, with more than $8.9 million in donations reported to date, HMF said in a press release announcing Shluger’s retirement.

The Burlington to Collinsville Classic 10K race was first run in 2016. The initial race was sold out with more than 800 runners in three weeks, Shluger said at the time. She said the unique beauty of the course attracted many runners along with the opportunity to run a 10K (6.2 mile) race.

“It is such a great, unique community that has a nice buzz about it,” she said in 2016 about the attraction of holding the race in Collinsville. The race starts at Lake Garda School in Burlington and follows the Farmington River trail before runners cross the old railroad bridge high above the Farmington River to finish downtown Collinsville.

Runners cross the railroad bridge into Collinsville to finish the Burlington to Collinsville Classic 10K in 2019.

One of Shluger’s proudest and most meaningful career moments came with the production of the Sandy Hook Run for the Families 5K road race in Hartford in March 2013.

Bringing together more than 15,000 people in solidarity and support for the families of victims of the tragic shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 and first responders was a true community movement.

“So many people and so many moments, including one of the greatest privileges of my life, the 2013 Sandy Hook Run for the Families,” she said in an email message to friends and supporters. “From the sweet voices of the children singing America the Beautiful, to our friend, an Irish tenor, delivering an emotional national anthem, we strived to set the right tone – one of respect, and hope and remembrance.

“We brought our ship’s bell and rang it 26 times – once every 5 seconds – the solemn, poignant, beautiful sound enveloped the crowd of 15,000 in complete silence.  Every 5 seconds, the bell reminded us of an angelic 6-year-old or caring, selfless educator. The sound and the significance struck us to the depths of our souls,” she said.

HMF was awarded for the “best amateur sporting event in the United States” by Sports Travel magazine and at the time, the event was the largest single source of donations to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, with $438,000 raised.

“At the end of a rewarding career, I’m trying to find the right words,” she said in an email message. “ Trying to express gratitude for you – for friends, colleagues, supporters and volunteers who helped me – helped us, really, to build this community of runners with a purpose beyond running.”

Hartford Marathon Foundation future operations will be led by Josh Miller, who currently serves as HMF vice president and race director.  Miller will assume the role of president on January 1, 2023.  The HMF 2023 race calendar will be announced mid-December, with registration opening shortly after.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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