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Who are you running for?

Troy Mathew | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Looking for substantial exercise, a great way to support the community or possible lakeside entertainment from a Mariachi band? Look no further than Notre Dame’s 2011 Holy Half Marathon. Its flyers advertise this year’s race as “bigger, better and holier” than ever.

“We’ve added a lot of improvements over last year. We’re trying to build this year’s race up as more of an event,” Holy Half co-director Gabby Tate said in an interview with the Observer.

USA Track and Field will certify the 2011 Holy Half’s 13.1-mile route for accuracy in order to avoid an unforeseen mishap that occurred in the previous year’s race.

“Last year, there was some construction on campus we didn’t get notice of, so the route ended up being shorter than planned,” Tate said.

Changes have been added in order to make the Holy Half a more memorable and special experience for the runner as well.

“Last year I think we made some sacrifices at the expense of the participants, so that’s something we’re trying to avoid for this year’s race,” Tate said.

Runners will receive a performance T-shirt instead of a regular T-shirt, along with coupons and promotions from the race’s sponsors, which are still being determined. Runners may also enjoy a unique form of race-time entertainment.

“We’re trying to get a Mariachi band to perform around the lakes for runners, which I think will be really fun. We’re also working on getting things like water bottles and bumper stickers for the runners,” Tate said.

Entertainment can be found in the lively student-runner crowd as well. Hyped as a costume contest, the race spurs students to get creative in their attire. A group of Waldos, a man in a Scooby Doo costume and a ghost, complete with a sheet over his head, were among last year’s costumed participants.

Also in the theme of improvement, Tate hopes to heighten community involvement in this year’s Holy Half. The previous four races donated proceeds to the Broadmoor Improvement Associaton, a cause devoted to rebuilding New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. The 2011 race has a more local philanthropic focus.

“The three charities the race will support are St. Adalbert School, Michiana Down Syndrome and South Bend’s Center for the Homeless. Each charity will be manning a water station, so they really have a lot of involvement in the race,” Tate said.

Race participants will also have a unique method of donation.

“The theme of this year’s race is ‘Who are you running for?’ and runners will get to pick which specific charity their money goes toward.” Tate said.

Representatives from each charity will be present at the race to answer any questions, fostering a highly interactive donation experience. For Tate, the social service aspect of the race is truly evocative of the Notre Dame community.

“I feel like [the Holy Half] represents what Notre Dame stands for. This is a big athletics school, and everyone is involved with that, so it has that aspect, but it also deals with social concerns which a lot of the students here find important,” Tate said.

As a four-year runner and three-year co-director, Tate traces her interest for directing the event back to her experience as a freshman.

“When I ran [the Holy Half] my freshman year, I just thought it was a really important and fun event,” she said. “That really inspired me to take on more responsibility with the race. [Co-director] Sean Kickham and I have been involved ever since.”

The race will take place April 10 at 10 a.m. Participants can sign up for either the half marathon or 10K race. Runners can register on the day of the race starting at 8 a.m., or by visiting nd.edu/~holyhalf/