LITCHFIELD — The Hillacious Half, Litchfield’s only half marathon, benefits local military members or families that need a helping hand. According to its website, “The H½ as created to honor our military, to thank them and let them know that their sacrifices are not unnoticed or taken for granted.” In 2016, the inaugural race ended with Samantha Glass of Goshen as the First Place Overall Winner and Jim Zoldy of Goshen as the First Male Finisher.
Director Beth Murphy was determined, that against all odds and despite the uptick of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, the Hillacious Half Marathon would be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, since the HH is always planned for the Saturday following Veterans Day. The 13.1 mile extremely hilly course, a loop between Litchfield and Goshen, was chosen to represent the difficulties that servicemen and women face every day. For Murphy, it is personal since her grandfather fought in WWI, her father in WWII and her ex-husband served in the Vietnam War.
She reminds all those who sign up that “This is a bare bones race for those with the determination, grit and wherewithal to get it done; to run those 13.1 miles for your own satisfaction and to keep in the public eye the extreme nature of what it means to serve our country. No frills, just sweat. You’ll dig deep for this course; but there will be beer.”
Beth Murphy said: “HH was crafted with Connecticut’s Phase 2 regulations in mind so we will be abiding by all current regulations. We planned a staggered start with runners kicking off in groups of 10. Other COVID-19 considerations meant that there would be no award ceremony and no party. Instead, each runner will be provided with a takeout box of food and a beer donated by the Athletic Brewing Company in Stratford. We are also very grateful for a monetary donation from True Value in Litchfield and for the 25 volunteers who work behind the scenes and marshal at every intersection for safety. Our legionnaires are the heartbeat of the race.”
Both the male and female first place finishers have their names engraved on the perpetual trophy that will remain housed in Morgan-Weir American Legion Post 27 in Litchfield and for an additional $10, participants could purchase a dog tag engraved with the name of someone now serving or who has served in the armed forces, such as a relative or friend either currently stationed in a war zone, or is a veteran.
Beth Murphy said, “We tell the runners that by wearing a dog tag, you bring that person “with you” during the race. It may just be the motivation to get you up that hill. You keep the dog tag as an honorarium; an achievement you can be proud of.”
All proceeds after race expenses are kept in a fund for any military person or family in the general locality that needs a helping hand. Funds are only distributed through the HH; no monies are paid to any agencies such as Wounded Warrior or Disabled American Veterans.
The decision to allow more runners to participate by adding a relay for those who could handle six but not 13 hilly miles, was a huge success that resulted in a total of 131 runners in 2020 compared to last year’s 100 runners. A large group of volunteers and race marshals blew horns and enthusiastically encouraged the runners when they reached Mile Marker 6. Drivers Marie Fisher and Julie Chappuis with All-Star Transportation offered free rides back to the starting point for those ending their run here.
In the 2019 HH, Christen Doneski, of Hopkinton, N.H., took First Place Overall with a time of 1:30:01, Paul Rosenberg, of Litchfield, won First Male Finisher at 1:31:49 and Luke Soule and Danielle Soule, of Kent, won First Relay Team at 1:49:50.
In the 2020 HH, which had many challenges due to COVID-19 restriction but also a third more runners, #78 Eric Blake, of West Hartford, was Overall Winner with 1:15:07 (a new course record) and #100 Caitlin Roston, of West Hartford, was awarded First Female Finisher with a net time of 1:34:01. Top finishers for the Relay were the Anderson Girls with a net time of 1:54:30.
The Hillacious Half is based at 400 Bantam Road in Litchfield, home of the Morgan-Weir American Legion Post 27. For more details, visit www.hillacioushalf.com.