Thousands of runners are starting to “taper” as they prepare for the 2015 Hartford Marathon.
Athletes from near and far will be lacing up their sneakers to take on the full 26.2 miles, the half marathon, or the 5K on Oct. 10 in Hartford
A handful of people are chosen each year to represent the Hartford Marathon Foundation, promoting and helping to brand the big event.
Marty Maldonado was chosen as one of this year’s marathon foundation ambassadors.
"My mantra is run to stimulate my mind, honor my body and to participate in my community. I believe in random acts of kindness. If you are a runner, you are my friend,” Maldonado said.
Tuesday nights have been slated for track workouts at Newington High School where Maldonado helps coach runners of all ages and abilities.
"I might approach you at a track, or out running and just say ‘you know if you drop your elbow a little bit you might have a better experience’,” Maldonado said.
He runs right alongside the people he is coaching, who are training for three, 13 or 26 miles, making up the Hartford Marathon.
Maldonado’s own running career spans 40 years, with the last four as a certified coach.
"I coach anybody who wants to be coached. I've seen people here who I work with. There are a lot of very fast runners who don't need my help who show up for the comradery of the group run too,” he said.
Sue Hayes started running later in life and she is an ambassador for a second straight year, and said thanks to Maldonado’s guidance she has learned a lot during track workouts.
"If it wasn't for Marty, I wouldn’t even know what to do here on the track. He taught me a lot about technique, warming up and stretching, acceleration, different skills. He's been great,” Hayes said.
Even when he and his family have faced their own setbacks, Maldonado has still been dedicated to his students.
"I was very excited to be training for the 2015 Hartford Marathon, as a great way to qualify for Boston. I have a son who has chronic kidney disease, and found out it was time for him to consider having a transplant,” Maldonado said. “We were stunned, and shattered and all of the things that happens when you go through that experience."
Maldonado reached out to friends and family, hoping they’d be a match for his 18-year-old son Trevor, who is now a freshman in college.
He found out he was a good match for his son.
On “June 23 this year I gave my youngest son my left kidney and most of the summer, we has been discovering life as it now is, for both of us,” Maldonado said.
So this year, it is 3.1 miles for Maldonado, instead of his typical full or half marathon, and he is okay with that.
"Then I had an opportunity to meet someone very special. April Capone, who is a member of the Aiello Inspiration Team,” Maldonado said.
Capone is the former mayor of East Haven and she is also a kidney donor to one of her constituents, which is why Maldonado wanted to work with her any way he could. Both she and his son, he said, are true heroes.
“You know, I did what any responsible parent would do, and I was fortunate to make a donation to my son. A lot of parents don't have the match, April just stepped up because there was a need,” Maldonado said.
He might make it look easy, but he said anyone can be a runner and said anyone looking to start should start slow.
“In addition to injury prevention, the one constant I give to everyone is that you need to slow down, everyone trains too fast, by the time get to the race, they're hurt, tired or injured and race isn't as enjoyable as could be,” Maldonado said.
To find out if you can be a match for the National Kidney Foundation, click here.
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