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Running brings awareness to different causes at the Hartford Marathon

HARTFORD -- The 25th anniversary of the Hartford Marathon kicked off at 8 Saturday morning in the cold and rain.

The start of a marathon isn't when the starting horn goes off. Before the race, adrenaline rushes keep athletes anxious to start.

"We're just so excited. We set this goal in May and here we are five months later, we're very excited for today," says Sasha Sanford, a teacher at Valley Regional High School in Old Saybrook, who ran her fourth marathon.

"We've been training for 6 months, so we're looking good. This is our fourth Hartford," says Kevin Toomey, a runner who pushes a wheel chair in the race.

The start of a marathon starts with a "why".

"I'm running for a dear friend of mine, Jaclyn Young," says Donna Dickerman, who is also a teacher at Valley Regional High School. "She has SMA syndrome and right now she's in Germany and she's getting treatment for that syndrome, so I'm running for her today."

Sometimes, people overcome their personal struggles.

"I went to college I was pretty overweight. I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do right now and so I just thought, "what's the hardest thing I can do to work off this weight?" and I just went out, went for a run, didn't make it past a block, but kept pushing," says Anne Oeldorf- Hirsch, who ran a half marathon.

It's only after the hard months of physical and mental training that the starting horn sounds off. Some runners train, and run, for two.

The duo runner race has grown in the past few years, partly thanks to Kevin Toomey and his partner, Greg, who has cerebral palsy. Thanks to the duo runner race, Toomey is able to push Greg in a special racers wheelchair for the duration of their race.

"The whole gist of this is inclusion and we had the opportunity, through Beth Schluger a few years back to be one of the first racers here," says wheel chair pusher Kevin Toomey. "And now look at what's happened. So, this is a huge movement for everybody."

The Hartford Marathon has raised more than $7 million dollars for local and national charities in the past 25 years. It's not all about raising money, it's about feeling good in the moment.

"There are no words to describe how phenomenal this is," said Toomey. "This opens up a whole new world for Greg because of the world of inclusion."

Runners of all levels are known for their determination and despite the rain, more than 11,000 runners hit the pavement, and crossed that finish line.

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