The Hartford Marathon is back and running nearly two years since athletes last crossed the finish line. One three-time finisher is hoping to inspire the next generation of runners.
“It was just a natural progression from 5k to 10k to half marathon to full marathon and we just kept going with it,” said Toni Johnson, who has run four marathons total: three Hartford and one Boston.
“Going through the arches is always just a great sense of accomplishment,” Johnson said of her favorite part of the 26.2 trek. “Because you feel like, ‘jeez, I just ran for four and a half hours without stopping and my mind got me through it.'”
Johnson, a middle school teacher in Hartford, wanted to share that physical and mental accomplishment with her students. She started a running club at West Middle School, where she was teaching at the time.
“When I started teaching sixth grade it was the first thing I did,” said Johnson. “To see them go from 'miss I can't run from here to the end of the corner' to ‘oh my goodness this is getting easier' and applying that to reading at math because they were practicing.”
Now, Johnson is at another school and it’s her turn to join the running club. E.B. Kennelly Elementary already had one started, but Johnson is excited to help the along the way.
“They do their own productive struggle with running and they get a little bit further and maybe faster each time,” said Johnson. “They can apply that productive struggle to what they're doing in school.”