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Runners participate in 13th annual Holy Half Marathon

| Monday, April 3, 2017

Around 1,700 Notre Dame community members and runners from across the country put their best foot forward while running in Saturday’s Holy Half Marathon and 10K, which took participants on a run throughout the University’s campus.

The event, which started as a Lenten goal for a group of students 13 years ago, is always popular, senior and Holy Half controller Kelly Janakiefski said. This year was no exception, as all 1,700 registration slots were filled within a month of registration opening, she said.

“It [started out] very small, and it has exploded in popularity,”Janakiefski said. “And I also think it’s fun because it’s so many seniors and so many Notre Dame students who never run anything in their life, and they’re like, ‘This is great. This is so fun.’ So it’s fun to see how engaged students are with the event.”

Senior volunteer Mary Patano said she appreciated the opportunity to be involved with the Holy Half in more ways than just running the race.

“The Holy Half is just such a Notre Dame tradition, and if I were more athletic, I would participate in it, but I’m not, so I figure the next best thing is to volunteer,” Patano said. “And it’s also fun seeing the parents and the kids and everyone — young and old — coming to do this tradition.”

Without the work of volunteers such as Patano, the Holy Half would not be possible, Janakiefski said.

“[The volunteers are] absolutely huge,” she said. “We have a fairly small group of people who work on the Holy Half all year, but we get, on race day, upwards of 100 volunteers just for the day. They’re huge. We have to put them out on the course, they help us set up during the day and we literally could not do it without them.”

Senior Rachael Mahle, who ran the half marathon, said the event is emblematic of the University.

“I think it’s cool that it brings together the entire Notre Dame community,” Mahle said. “Not just the students, but also I saw staff here — professors, people from St. Liam’s — and it’s also become a family event. … My dad came and ran it with me, and we actually got to run it together. I think that really embodies the community and family spirit of Notre Dame.”

Part of this spirit, Janakiefski said, is apparent in the number of people willing to contribute to a good cause. This year the Holy Half will be making “meaningful donations” to four different Notre Dame-affiliated or South Bend charities.

“The Holy Half is one of the biggest donators on campus, I think, to local charities,” Janakiefski said. “ … We’re hoping to do a donation this year of over $50,000, which is incredible. And part of that is because students and people who come to run are willing to pay more because it’s a charity race, and it’s such a fun Notre Dame event.”

Sophomore Bill Boehner, who ran in the half marathon, said he was excited to see the event in its entirety after last year’s Holy Half was cancelled due to a snowstorm the morning of the race.

“I couldn’t run it last year because it was snowed out, so I decided this is the year,” he said. “ … I liked how there were so many people around. The people definitely got me through the race. … It basically encompasses Notre Dame. We’re all active in the community and within our own community and the surrounding community.”

Janakiefski said she was grateful to everyone who helped make this year’s Holy Half a success.

“We knew what we wanted to do to do the best race possible, and I think it [went] really well,” Janakiefski said. “ … From the Holy Half, we want to say thank you to the students and to all of the participants who come to volunteer and who come to run, because they make the event possible.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a junior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, and currently serving as News Editor. She is a proud resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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