This year's Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon is going to be a virtual event amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Race officials said the marathon and half marathon will take place from October 8 through October 11 as a virtual event.
"We are taking the lemons we've been given due to the pandemic, and we're making great lemonade for the community," said President and CEO of the Hartford Marathon Foundation Beth Shluger.
For a reduced entry fee of $25, runners and walkers can participate in all the races which include the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon. They'll get a long-sleeve t-shirt and a finisher medal. For an additional $10, participants can partake in a challenge which includes another medal. Those who take part will need to upload their times online.
"They will still reach that finish line. It might not be as socially fun as marathons and half marathons in the past, but it will still be just as sweet and rewarding," said Fleet Feet Hartford owner Stephanie Blozy.
Fleet Feet Hartford is a Hartford Marathon sponsor.
"The virtuality of the Hartford Marathon weekend is definitely a heartbreaking decision. I know it wasn't an easy one, but I think it was the right one," said Blozy.
She says they're looking forward to supporting runners as they train and that she loves that every penny of the entry fee will go to local charities.
Participants will receive training support materials, enhanced event experiences that are digital, which include race bibs, finisher certificates and a custom race day playlist, race officials said. Participants can also submit verified results after their race that can appear online.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation is also hoping runners will consider taking the rest of the money they would have spent on a much higher entry fee and spend it at local restaurants, local businesses, or donate it to charity.
"We think this year's race is going to offer a very special experience, that you're really feeling you're part of something that's much more important than just a typical road race," said Shluger.
While it's not the racing experience runners may have hoped for this year, organizers say they'll be back in 2021, and until then, this is a way to come together to do a lot of good.
"We can't get through this time alone. We have to do it together, and this is one way that we can do it," said Blozy.
The TCS New York City Marathon for this year has been canceled, as well. This is only the second cancellation in the race's 50-year history; the other was in 2012, due to Hurricane Sandy.