Carolyn Green | Monday, March 26, 2012
Standing on Irish Green on Saturday, I watched graduate students who had been training for months, fathers completing their first half-marathons with their daughters and alumni running next to fellow classmates they hadn’t seen in years, all cross the finish line of the Holy Half Marathon. Seeing their shared expressions of relief, joy and accomplishment, I could hardly believe that just a few months ago, the Holy Half almost didn’t happen.
When we first spoke to the administration about our plans for Holy Half 2012, we were met with some resistance, and understandably so. Running a half-marathon is a huge physical endeavor and the risks are high. I mean, when Phidippides ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, he died of exhaustion shortly after finishing the 26 miles. Who was the first person to say, “Running 26 miles was a great idea, let’s do that again!”
In last year’s Holy Half, due to the freak heat wave, poor preparation or whatever else, far too many people were dropping like flies. In fact, my dad was one of the injured runners, so I can personally attest that the emergency room of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center was practically a Notre Dame reunion.
However, there was no way the Holy Half tradition was not going to continue. Since its creation in 2004, the Holy Half has become an inherent part of the Notre Dame experience. Just ask Ian Montijo, the junior who placed first among male undergraduate runners, about the emails he exchanged with his fellow Stanford Hall mates about their training plans. Or talk with Eliza Nagle, whose parents and sister traveled to Notre Dame from Nashville, Tenn., to watch their daughter run her first half-marathon. Fr. John Patrick Riley, priest of St. Joseph’s Parish, said after the race, “Although my body is pretty well battered from the effort at my age, happy memories will help in the recovery.”
We could not have asked for better weather, a more dedicated group of volunteers and support staff or greater enthusiasm from runners and spectators alike. This was somewhat of a transition year for the Holy Half, but for being a transition year, it was one heck of an event. 1,144 runners completed either the half-marathon or 10K on Saturday, and we raised approximately $30,000 to be split among our three charities: Hope Ministries, the St. Joseph County Public Library and the Literacy Council of St. Joseph County.
In the past, the Holy Half has been linked with the class of 2011, but after their graduation from the University, the Holy Half moved on to new leadership under the class of 2014. Though it has not yet been approved for club status, we hope to eventually be recognized as an “organization” similar to Bookstore Basketball. With the encouragement of the student body, the great Holy Half tradition can carry on and we can continue to make a lasting impact on campus and in the South Bend community.
Of course, there is much upon which to improve. A few runners in the 10K somehow missed the lakes entirely and we were not able to provide the Gatorade that we had promised. We rely on the support of Notre Dame students, staff, alumni and all other patrons of the Holy Half to let us know what we can do to make ourselves better and how we can make the Holy Half the best it can be for years to come.
Even if you didn’t run Saturday, you probably know someone who did, or maybe you just saw someone limping down the stairs due to the sweet burn of post-race lactic acid buildup. Make sure you tell that person congratulations, because he or she has accomplished something great. Thank you to everyone who was a part of the Holy Half Marathon 2012. We could not have done it without you.
Carolyn Green is the student director of the Holy Half Marathon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.