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New Course Set for ‘Celebrate! West Hartford’ 5K

Trout Brook Trail runners. Photo credit: Linda Geisler

Registration is now open for the Celebrate! West Hartford FUNd RUNS – which support neighbors in need and this year will incorporate the new Trout Brook Trail into the route.

The section of West Hartford’s Trout Brook Trail from Farmington Avenue to Fern Street opened in the fall of 2023. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton 

Organizers have charted a new course for the Celebrate! West Hartford 5K race this year – a picturesque route that highlights not only the town’s iconic Center, but also traverses along the Trout Brook Trail.

The 5K will take place on the Day 2 of the annual Celebrate! West Hartford festival, on Sunday, June 9 at 9 a.m.

Town staff and the FUNd RUNS Committee have been working hard over the past year to create the route and obtain USATF certification, describe the course as follows: “Starting in the center of one of Connecticut’s most picturesque towns, the new Celebrate! West Hartford 5K course starts on South Main Street near the statue of native son, Noah Webster. Runners proceed north passing by historical landmarks, buildings and homes. The course turns east into the heart of one of West Hartford’s quintessential neighborhoods. Then runners head south on the newly completed paved Trout Brook Trail, where participants will be cheered on by the brook ducks and may even catch a glimpse of the resident eagle. The course departs the scenic trail at the intersection of Memorial Road, turning west for a short uphill past the Delamar Hotel, before the flat finish between Raymond and Isham Roads.”

Ducks swimming in Trout Brook, visible from Trout Brook Trail. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Why the change?

“Runners’ safety necessitates the route change,” said Linda Geisler, event director for Celebrate! West Hartford. “Over the 37 years since the inaugural Celebrate! West Hartford 5K, the number of vehicles traveling through town has increased significantly and traffic infrastructure has changed to accommodate the greater volume, especially around Park Road and the I-84 offramp.”

Geisler said the change met with some resistance from the committee at first because of the long history with the previous route. “Many runners like to run the same course to see how they compare from one year to the next – or one decade to the next in many cases,” she said.

“As it turns out, the timing matched perfectly with the completion of the Trout Brook Trail north to Asylum Avenue, so we can take advantage of using a long stretch of this scenic route, which is mostly unencumbered by cars, and beautiful to run along. It’s really a great course,” added Geisler, who has tested out the route herself on many occasions.

“The Celebrate! West Hartford road races truly represent a cross section of our community, with runners of all ages and abilities coming together,” said Peter Travers, chair of the FUNd RUNS Committee and co-chair of this year’s Festival Committee. “Whether someone is running their first race or is an elite runner, everyone is welcome and supported. In a similar way, our new 5K course spans our business district, residential areas, and the natural beauty of the newly extended Trout Brook Trail.”

Celebrate! West Hartford 5K route, 2024. Courtesy image

While the previous route primarily took runners through neighborhood streets before heading along South Main Street back to Town Hall, this route highlights some of the town’s landmarks such as it passes through the Center – including the Connecticut Veteran’s Memorial, North Cemetery, and American School for the Deaf. Just before reaching Bishops Corner, runners head east onto Craigmoor Road and run through what Geisler “a quintessential West Hartford neighborhood,” before turning south onto the recreational trail where they are immediately surrounded by nature until reaching Blue Back Square for the final stretch on Memorial Road.

“It is rewarding to show off the trail,” said John Phillips, director of West Hartford’s Department of Public Works, which oversees the town’s new linear park. “Public Works is excited to maintain the trail as best as possible. Trout Brook Trail has quickly become a ‘go to’ for outside recreational activity,” Phillips said.

Trout Brook Trail looking south from Fern Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The festival tent in the Town Hall parking lot will serve as the gathering spot for both the start and finish of the 5K race as well as the Kids K non-competitive dash. The Kids K route loops through Blue Back Square, and all participants receive medals. The Kids K will begin at 8 a.m. on June 9, while the 5K begins at 9 a.m.

Celebrate! West Hartford Kids K details. Courtesy image

Registration is now open, and early registration pricing ($30) is in place through 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2024. The registration fee for the Kids K is $5. A race shirt is guaranteed to those who register by May 31.

A portion of the FUNd RUNS proceeds is donated to West Hartford families in need through The Town That Cares and the Leisure Services Scholarship Fund.

The 5K race is USATF certified and open to runners ages 6 and up. Children ages 2 to 10 are eligible to participate in the Kids K, but older chaperones are welcome to accompany the young runners.

Celebrate! West Hartford FUNd RUNS. June 11, 2023. Photo Credit: Bridget Bronsdon (we-ha.com file photo)

“One of the things I love about the FUNd RUNS is that there truly is a way for everyone to be involved, not just runners. Student artists compete to design the official T-shirt graphic; businesses contribute prizes, food and water; and anyone can come out to volunteer, cheer on runners and donate to support the funds which help West Hartford families in need,” Geisler said.

For the 37 years that the Celebrate! West Hartford 5K, the event has attracted a mixture of elite runners from throughout the region as well as children just learning to run through training programs held in West Hartford and neighboring towns – and everyone in between.

In addition to the FUNd RUNS, since 1987 Celebrate! West Hartford has featured an award-winning juried arts and crafts show, carnival rides and games, an international food court, free live music, and exhibitor booths from nonprofits and local businesses on the grounds of Town Hall, 50 South Main Street. In past years, the event has attracted 40,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.

More information about Celebrate! West Hartford, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, 2024, as well as the link to online registration for the races, is available at www.CelebrateWestHartford.com.

Business sponsors make this annual tradition free to visitors. PeopleBank is the Presenting Sponsor of the event for the third straight year. Additional sponsors include: Gold Level – Fleet Feet, Power Home Remodeling Group, Westfield Bank; Silver Level – Blue Back Square, M & T Bank, Mathnasium of West Hartford, Northwestern Mutual, Paine’s, Inc., Small Business Collective, Tilted Bottles, Trinity of New England Men’s Health Institute, West Hartford Police Officers’ Association, YHB Investment Advisors, Inc.; and Bronze Level – Advanced Window Systems, Anytime Fitness West Hartford, Casanova Remodeling Company, LLC, LeafFilter Gutter Protection, LeafGuard, Ski Sundown, West Hartford Orthodontics.

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