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No Mittens Required for this Year’s West Hartford Race

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The weather for the annual Blue Back Square Mitten Run, which brought more than 2,400 runners to West Hartford on Dec. 6, 2015, was warm and sunny.

Runners line up for the start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Runners line up for the start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The only mittens really needed at the 2015 Blue Back Square Mitten Run were the ones that were being donated, along with hats and scarves, to the Town That Cares Fund by participants in the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s final run of the season.

In contrast to last year’s race, where sub-zero temperatures and fierce winds made the wearing of winter-themed costumes as much as necessity as novelty, runners this year didn’t even really need the charming knit hats that were handed out to all race registrants.

In all, 2,426 runners lined up on Burr Street between giant inflatable snowmen and wound their way through West Hartford neighborhoods on the 5K course that ended in the center of Blue Back Square.

There were 60 participants from the Girls in Stride program running this year. Coach Glenn Marcella said the girls, ages 6-14, had participated in an 8-week training program meeting weekly at Fern Park that focused on endurance, strength, pacing, visualization, and nutrition.

“They are so excited – nervous excitement,” Marcella said before the race.

Ken Shluger of the Hartford Marathon Foundation said that in addition to collecting donations for West Hartford’s The Town That Cares Fund, he was hopeful that the “HMF CAN” goal of collecting 10,000 cans of food this racing season would be met at the Mitten Run.

A new course record was set this year, with Joe Gioielli, 22, of New Britain, a student at CCSU, breaking the tape in 15:39.28. The previous record of 15:50 was set by Bobby Giuliani of West Hartford in 2013.

West Hartford men Greg Weaver, Luke Perron, and Shizhong Yang took the fourth, fifth, and sixth places in the race. Kingswood Oxford senior Mick Haines, 17, of West Hartford was ninth.

West Hartford residents led the female finishers with Jillian Agarwal, 30, winning in 17:51.23. The record-holder is Marissa Clapp of West Hartford who ran 17:13 in 2009.

Emma Perron was the second woman to finish this year and just like her brother Luke, was the second West Hartford finisher. Emma, who graduated from Conard High School in 2007, was a track star in both high school and at Providence College but said this was her first race in five or six years.

“It was good, it was hard,” Emma said.

“It was a great way to get out and see some friends,” said Michael Sisti, a Conard senior who said he used the race as a training run to prepare for the indoor track season that begins on Monday.

Tim Schulken of West Hartford said that his time of 19:28 was “pretty good” for someone his age (49) – and he went home as a third-place finisher in his age group.

In keeping with the race’s wintery theme, age group winners took home mugs and cozy fleece blankets as prizes.

Santa was on hand to high five all of the finishers who were then treated to post-race snacks of hot cocoa and holiday cookies.

In addition to the 5K, the Mitten Run also included an HMF FitKids race for children ages 2-11 who were given the opportunity to run distances of ½ mile or one mile.

View the gallery of images from the race below. For complete results, click here.

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Several Girls in Stride runners pose with their coaches (from left) Janet Tarasuk, Lisa Pillow, and Glenn Marcella. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Several Girls in Stride runners pose with their coaches (from left) Janet Tarasuk, Lisa Pillow, and Glenn Marcella. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

These West Hartford women came dressed in holiday attire. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

These West Hartford women came dressed in holiday attire. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Roberta Brown of West Hartford (right) was running as an Achilles Guide. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Roberta Brown of West Hartford (right) was running as an Achilles Guide. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

And they're off ... HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

And they’re off … HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Santa and an inflatable snowman await finishers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Santa and an inflatable snowman await finishers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Joe Gioielli breaks the tape, finishing in 15:39 for a new course record. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Joe Gioielli breaks the tape, finishing in 15:39 for a new course record. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Luke Perron was the second male finisher from West Hartford. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Luke Perron was the second male finisher from West Hartford. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mick Haines of West Hartford was ninth overall. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mick Haines of West Hartford was ninth overall. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jillian Agarwal of West Hartford was the first female finisher. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Joy Taylor

Jillian Agarwal of West Hartford was the first female finisher. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Joy Taylor

Aiden Puffer, 11, of Manchester won the 10-14 age group in an amazing time of 18:31.51. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Aiden Puffer, 11, of Manchester won the 10-14 age group in an amazing time of 18:31.51. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emma Perron of West Hartford was the second female finisher. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emma Perron of West Hartford was the second female finisher. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

15-year-old Jacob Rocheleau of West Hartford (right) completed the Mitten Run in 19 minutes flat. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

15-year-old Jacob Rocheleau of West Hartford (right) completed the Mitten Run in 19 minutes flat. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Max Huang of West Hartford, age 9, finished first in the 9 and under age group in 20:01.96. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Max Huang of West Hartford, age 9, finished first in the 9 and under age group in 20:01.96. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Michael Sisti of West Hartford used the Mitten Run as a training run for Conard's indoor track season that begins Monday. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Michael Sisti of West Hartford used the Mitten Run as a training run for Conard’s indoor track season that begins Monday. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kitty Horigan of West Hartford rounds the corner on the way to a fifth-place age group finish. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kitty Horigan of West Hartford rounds the corner on the way to a fifth-place age group finish. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Zach Karas of West Hartford was wearing bib no. 2, which he said he was given at random when he registered Sunday morning. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Zach Karas of West Hartford was wearing bib no. 2, which he said he was given at random when he registered Sunday morning. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Tim Schulken of West Hartford with his son, Connor. Tim finished third in his age group. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Tim Schulken of West Hartford with his son, Connor. Tim finished third in his age group. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Santa high fives finishers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Santa high fives finishers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Liz Santoro of West Hartford was third in her age group. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Liz Santoro of West Hartford was third in her age group. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Second place female Emma Perron of West Hartford (right) and third place female finisher Ashley Gurzler of Manchester. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Second place female Emma Perron of West Hartford (right) and third place female finisher Ashley Gurzler of Manchester. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Joe Gioielli (left) of New Britain set the new course record and second place finisher Chris Mayer of Middlefield. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Joe Gioielli (left) of New Britain set the new course record and second place finisher Chris Mayer of Middlefield. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Many runners chose festive costumes. These two women created elf shoes out of their running sneakers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Many runners chose festive costumes. These two women created elf shoes out of their running sneakers. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Many runners posed in the "selfie station" after the race. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Many runners posed in the “selfie station” after the race. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford resident Debbi Zimbler (left) and New Britain resident Andrea Bucior-Kulak sid they loved the knit hats, but really didn't need to wear them for the race. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford resident Debbi Zimbler (left) and New Britain resident Andrea Bucior-Kulak said they loved the knit hats, but really didn’t need to wear them for the race. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mugs were handed out as prizes to age group winners. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mugs were handed out as prizes to age group winners. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

Kids run start. HMF Blue Back Mitten Run, West Hartford, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Amy Melvin

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