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Holy Half benefits locals

Anna Boarini | Sunday, April 10, 2011

The theme of Sunday’s sixth annual Holy Half Marathon asked participants, “Who are you running for?” In that spirit, race organizers hoped the thousands of participants would think beyond their own training, to others.

“The past few years, the money has all gone to New Orleans and the theme has been New Orleans too,” senior and race director Gabby Tate said. “This year we wanted to do something different and get more people involved from South Bend and out of the Notre Dame bubble.”

Working with the theme, the directors decided to focus the fundraising efforts on local charities.

“We came up with a list from friends’ suggestions and narrowed it down to a few, which we presented to all four class councils,” senior and race director Sean Kickham said. “They voted and those are the charities that the money will go to.”

This year’s race will benefit the South Bend Center for the Homeless, St. Adalbert elementary school and Michiana Down Syndrome, a local family support and advocacy group. Runners can choose what charity their run will benefit.

Last year, the Holy Half raised $15,000 for the Brodamore Improvement Association, which benefits victims of Hurricane Katrina. This year, the organizers said they hoped to surpass last year’s total.

Even though the race is a large fundraiser, this year the directors wanted to make the race more of an event, with more activities than just the run.

“We’re having more food, a costume contest, award ceremony and free massages at the end of the race for runners, ” Tate said.

While the race is a fundraising event, what drives it are the runners. This year, Saint Mary’s senior Catie Salyer had a very special race, thanks to her boyfriend, senior Colin Raymond, and a special finish line question.

“We ran the whole race together, and helped and supported each other,” Salyer said. “He finished in front of me, when I crossed the finish line, he went down on one knee and was there waiting for me. It was really special and really personal, since running is my thing.”

The proposal was made even more special by the presence of Raymond and Salyer’s friends. One of Raymond’s friends even held the ring during the race and made a quick handoff before Salyer crossed the finish line.

Salyer said she hopes that she and Raymond will be able to come back after they graduate and run the Holy Half again, but that all depends on where they are living.

“Colin’s in Army ROTC and we don’t know where we will live, but I’m sure sometime we will come back for it,” she said.

Junior Pat Kissling ran his second Holy Half, running for the Center for the Homeless. Kissling said he is a regular runner that trained casually and would absolutely participate in the event again.

“I thought it went really well, and had a great turnout,” Kissling said. ” The best part for me was running around South Quad because that is where there is always a lot of people.”

Anna Svensson said she is new to the Holy Half. The junior played a varsity sport in high school and dances with the pom squad on campus and decided to give the half marathon a try.

“I thought that the race went really well and had a great turnout, “Svensson said. “The biggest challenge for me was the heat. I trained in much colder weather and I had to stop more, around the water breaks, due to exhaustion from the heat.”

Svensson trained using a schedule she found online for rookie half marathon runners and said it was helpful, especially since she did not know when a runner should reach their peak mileage.

“The schedule was really encouraging and helpful,” Svensson said. “I feel like if I would have followed it more closely, I would have done better.”