Glastonbury resident Angie Rafter crosses the finishes line to win the Hartford Marathon 5k race on Oct. 8. Rafter shattered the woman’s course record, running a 16:15. Photo credit Steve McLoughlin Photography.
Glastonbury resident Angie Rafter broke the women’s 5k record at the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 8.
The 23-year-old ran the 5000 meters in a blistering 16:15, averaging 5:14 per mile to shatter the previous record of 16:47 held by Amy Nedeau since 2003.
A standout runner at Central Connecticut State University, Rafter used her experience and training from the years of collegiate running to take an early lead and never look back.
“I just wanted to go out and go as hard as I could,” said Rafter, who beat the runner-up by nearly two minutes and fueled her lead over the field by keeping pace with a handful of the top-ten finishers in the men’s race.
This was Rafter’s first time finishing under the arches during the annual event in downtown Hartford, which hosts a full marathon, half marathon, and 5k.
Rafter said she always wanted to be involved with the marathon weekend in the state’s capital, but she was normally competing with her cross-country team at The New England Championship in Boston when the local races take place the second Saturday in October.
It is her time at Central that she credits for her personal growth as both a runner and person.
“It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life coming to CCSU,” said Rafter, who attended Killingly High School and followed her best friend in high school, Katie Stevens, to the New Britain-based college.
Since joining the Blue Devils running program, Rafter has etched an impeccable running resume and set the school’s record books of fire as a three-season runner.
She owns the program’s indoor and outdoor 5k marks, along with the 800-meter records in both indoor and outdoor, the 1000 and 3000 meters in indoor, and the 10,000 meters in outdoor.
Rafter won individual Northeast Conference (NEC) cross-country championships in 2018, 2019, and 2021 and has captured ten NEC gold medals on the track. She has also been named the conference’s Most Outstanding Performer twice during cross country season and three more times in track.
All the accolades are something that Rafter said she could have never dreamed of while growing up in Danielson, CT.
She started running cross-country in the fifth grade after she was cut from the school’s cheerleading team. She joked that cross-country was the only sport that did not make cuts.
Rafter called college coach Eric Blake a “driving influence.”
“I wasn't a standout runner in high school and Coach Blake took a shot on me,” recalled Rafter. “The coaches believe that I had this potential as a runner.”
Blake, the head coach of the women’s running program at CCSU, said that Rafter’s dedication is second to none, saying she will wake up at 5 a.m. to go for a run and later do her normal training with the team.
“When she came in as a freshman, she believed in our program from day one,” added Blake. “She’s an extremely hard worker and a talented runner. She thinks big; she has big goals.”
Now working on her master’s in health and psychology, Rafter is out of eligibility in cross country and outdoor track. However, she does have a season left of eligibility in indoor track and will be running again with the Blue Devils this winter.
Rafter, who got her undergraduate degree in English with a minor in psychology, is hoping for her best season yet at CCSU and would like to continue to run competitively, either professionally or semi-professional after college.
With a passion for mental health advocacy, Rafter’s long-term plan is to become a mental health counselor, specifically for student athletes.
“When I entered grad school I was really struggling with my mental health and everything that I had put on my plate during my undergraduate years. Talking about mental health was one of the things that helped me,” said Rafter. “Advocating for mental health and talking about it is one of the most powerful things that we can do.”
Rafter, who focused her thesis on mental health and the resources accessible and utilized by student athletes, added that CCSU has exceeded her expectations.
“Our campus has done a great job at allowing us to think of who we are outside of being a student athlete.” added Rafter. “I really can't say enough amazing things about CCSU and our athletic staff.”
As she prepared for her final season at Central and works toward her graduate degree, Rafter and her boyfriend, fellow CCSU runner Alex Norstrom, are living their best life after moving to the community this year.
“We love it here,” Rafter said of Glastonbury.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin