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Runners raise funds for Katrina

Emma Driscoll | Monday, March 26, 2007

On Sunday morning, more than 350 racers showed up prepared run the distance – 13.1 miles, to be exact -to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina in this year’s Holy Half Marathon.

The race drew between 360 and 375 participants in its third year – an increase from last year’s race that had “just over 300” runners, marathon director Kathleen Coverick said. The past two years have seen a significant swell in the number of participants from the first Holy Half held in 2005, which “had probably 80 people” and made a little over $2000, Coverick said.

Coverick attributed the rise in participation to both talk among interested students and the distinctiveness of the race as a half marathon.

“It just definitely spread through word of mouth,” she said. “It’s just a pretty unique race in that it’s the only half marathon [on campus]. There are 5Ks and 10Ks more often, and I think that kind of helped with the big turn out.”

Participation was not affected by students who pre-registered for the race online but did not show up for the race, due to large number of people who signed up on the day of the race. Coverick said the nearly 100 walk-ups showed up Sunday morning.

Law student Dan McGrath finished first with a time of 1:11.03. While he said he was happy to have done so well, he enjoyed the whole experience of the run.

“It was fun to get the win, but I didn’t really take too much out of it,” he said. “It was a campus run, it was a charity thing. It was fun.”

McGrath has been training to run in the Boston Marathon in three weeks. He said he does a specific workout each week, along with a progressively longer run. McGrath said the Holy Half was just like another workout to him.

“This was what I was going to do this weekend anyway,” he said.

McGrath said there were people all over campus cheering for the runners.

“I was really impressed with how many people showed up and how many people were out there cheering,” he said.

The race raised around $6,000 – about the same as last year – to be donated to Operation Helping Hands, according to Coverick. She said Helping Hands is the project of Catholic Charities in New Orleans that helps victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve done service with them before and a lot of Notre Dame students, when they do service in New Orleans, that’s the organization they work through,” Coverick said.

Funds from last year’s race were also donated to Helping Hands.

Runners could load up on carbohydrates at a dinner catered by Olive Garden on Saturday night, which raised $250 of the $6000, Coverick said. Senior Alli DeJong spoke during the dinner about the situation in New Orleans, according to Coverick.

Runners paid a $15 dollar entrance fee that Coverick said will “go right to the charity,” because campus organizations covered the costs of the race.

Sunday’s warm weather might have proved to be an unexpected obstacle for runners, because many participants had become used to running in cold weather during the winter months, Coverick said.

Fortunately, 20 people from First Aid Services Team (FAST) were there to help runners.

“There were three major first aid incidents – all of which happened within ninety seconds of one another – but all are OK now,” Coverick said via e-mail. “The [FAST] team member I spoke with attributed it to a mid-race heat wave. Most cases were ones of exhaustion rather than acute leg injuries, but I’m sure lots of people will be icing over the next few days.”