Jonas Hampton ‘11 was a trailblazer when he arrived on campus as a freshman. He was among the first to live in Hawk Hall when the inviting new residence hall opened its doors in 2007. And, even back then, he stared thinking about the milestone of someday winning the Hartford Marathon.
This past fall, competing in his first full marathon anywhere, Hampton reached that milestone—finishing first among more than 2,400 runners at the Eversource Hartford Marathon. The former Hawks’ track and cross-country standout beat his closest competition by two minutes and became the first Connecticut resident to win the Hartford men’s marathon in the 22-year history of the event.
The very perseverance Hampton must call upon to excel as a long-distance runner took root at UHart. Balancing the time demands of being a Division I athlete with the academic rigors of majoring in civil engineering was no easy task. Along the way, a change in his financial circumstances put his future as a runner and student at the University suddenly in doubt. But thanks to the University's supportive character, everyone, from University President Walter Harrison to his coach, Kathy Manizza, stepped up to ensure his success.
“It is nice to realize now that the support the University of Hartford provided Jonas in his early college years could well have been a turning point for him,” Manizza, now head coach of track and cross country at Eastern Connecticut State University, recalls. “He became more serious about school and running and developed into a great leader on our team.”
Hampton, currently residing in New Britain, Conn., hasn’t let his training and competition schedule interfere with his career path. The skills and hands-on experience he acquired during his studies in the University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture have propelled him to a job as a highway design engineer for the state of Connecticut Department of Transportation.
“I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am now without the support I received from the University,” Hampton says.
His next stop on the running trail is the Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles on Feb. 13. While his eventual goal is to make the Olympic team, he more realistically is eyeing a spot on a U.S. travel team in the shorter term.
Regardless of the goal he sets—Jonas Hampton knows that the perseverance he learned at UHart can make it happen.