Over the past few years, a new running event has grown in popularity, especially in the frozen Midwest - the indoor marathon.
That's right, running lap after lap around an indoor track or other short course until you finish 26.2 miles.
Now Connecticut runners are going to get their first taste of running a similar event.
The first Veterans Inc. Indoor Half Marathon and Marathon Relay will be run on Saturday, Jan. 26, around the concourse of the XL Center in Hartford.
That's 63 laps for the 120 half marathoners and 126 laps for the 120 relay teams.
Race director Scott Sutter, a former cross country/track runner at The Citadel, said he remembered running indoor workouts around his college fieldhouse concourse. He raised the idea while talking to other race directors.
"I thought, why don't we something like that up here where there are really no races during the winter," he said.
So he thought of the XL Center as a venue and called. Center management said it wanted to be involved.
So Sutter began doing some research and found a few other races such as the 5th annual Icebreaker indoor marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay in Milwaukee which last year boasted almost 500 finishers and 100 teams.
He said the XL Center concourse is a perfect venue for the event as its concourse is 15 to 30 feet wide, offering plenty of room for runners.
Sutter said the race, to his knowledge, will be one of just three indoor half marathons in the North America. He expects the half marathon field to fill especially since there are no half marathons within 30 days of his race.
The half marathon will begin at 7:15 a.m. followed by the relay at 10 a.m. All runners will receive tickets to that night's AHL matchup between the Connecticut Whale and the Springfield Falcons, with the race winners being introduced on the XL Center ice during the second period intermission.
Sutter, who directs other races in north central Connecticut, said he won't make any money from this year's race as all proceeds will benefit Veterans Inc., a Massachusetts organization that works to end homelessness among veterans.
"We just want to prove this will work," he said.
He said that with the two races, spectator seating in the concourse, along with a home show and the hockey game, makes for a nice family day for the runners.
"We want to make sure everyone has a good time," he said.
The race has a water stop, is chip timed and runners' laps will be counted. All entrants get t-shirts and there are medals for all finishers.
Entry fee for the half is $75 and the relay is $175. The relay has categories for male, female, co-ed, police, fire, EMT and military teams.
If you're wondering if you can qualify for Boston by running an indoor marathon, you can't. Boston does not accept indoor times.
Online registration is at https://register.thelastmileracing.com/register/?event=15889.
More information is available by contacting Sutter at email@example.com or on Facebook by searching VeteranInc.IndoorRaces.
Sutter said the race will also be a test for a winter 2014 event he is planning at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. That event will not only have a half marathon but a CrossFit competition in the 65,000 square-foot exhibit hall.
Joe Wojtas is The Day's running columnist