Mike Joseph, the school's physical education teacher, said it's encouraging to see so many students take fitness seriously.
The school opens the relay to third, fourth, and fifth graders, who Joseph said are either running the mile in class or will be soon.
"They get to see what a real huge race is all about and it's quite the experience," Joseph said. "It means that they are taking the fitness seriously. They are trying to find different ways to apply it in the real world."
This year, 32 students ran alongside two parents and principal Jeff Wallowitz. Groups of students signed for up different one mile stretches of the race. Joseph credits parents for making the logistics of that work.
"Their parents play a huge role in this," Joseph said. "They are there, supporting their kids and driving them around to get them to where they need to be. They have to be with them waiting to jump on the course and then there picking them up at the end of the mile."
Joseph's favorite part of the experience is the way they finish the race.
"Once the students finish their mile, they meet me at the 13 mile marker and when the runners get to us, we all stop and we regroup," Joseph said. "And then the whole group runs the last of the race to finish together. It's a great sense of team and community. It's an amazing thing to see. They all get to finish together and experience that great positive atmosphere that the Hartford Marathon has."
Joseph said in his first physical education classes following the race, he has the participating students share their experience with the rest of the class.
"They all love seeing all the people that are there and they notice all the different things on the side of the road, like the people cheering for them," Joseph said. "They just love the whole atmosphere. We talk about it when they come back to class. I always recognize the students that ran and we talk about their experience. I ask students who haven't run to ask them about it and hear about what it's like."
This year, Webster Hill was one of only two elementary schools in the state to participate in the relay. They were the only West Hartford elementary school to participate.
"The fact that we've been doing it for so long is an amazing thing, and it speaks to the community of the school," Joseph said. "Different parents step up every year. It's amazing that it's gone on this long. There's always somebody willing to jump in because they can see the value in it."
Joseph said it's likely that they are creating future Hartford Marathon runners through this program.
"We have a lot of students who play organized sports," Joseph said. "There's the other kids that like to do this sort of thing. We try to push to get as many kids to do this to get the experience of running and to see if they like to do it. It's great that they found something they like to do and they can do it forever."