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Holy Half runners conquer campus

Nicole Michels | Monday, March 26, 2012

Saturday morning, 1,120 runners toed up to the starting line for the eighth annual Holy Half Marathon and 10k race before most on campus had even eaten breakfast.  

Sponsored by the Class of 2014, the event raised approximately $30,000 in support of Hope Ministries, the St. Joseph County Public Library and the Literacy Council of North Central Indiana.  

Student organizer Carolyn Green said the event planning team was pleased with the race’s turnout.

“The goal was to make an opportunity for students to interact outside of [normal] campus events … this was a really unique way for doing that,” she said. “Really, it is a physical accomplishment, but it becomes something bigger than yourself, because it’s not only fulfilling something that is a part of the Notre Dame tradition, but we also raised $30,000 for local charities.”

The biggest challenge for race coordinators was overcoming the negative effects of the scorching heat during last year’s race, Green said.

“The administration was kind of reluctant to have the race this year because of all the injuries last year,” Green said.  “Over fall break, we made this appeal and presented to them, focusing on how the race has become something on Notre Dame bucket lists, and such a big tradition.”

Green said the Holy Half team was prepared to give medical attention to runners at any point during the race, but the cool, cloudy weather minimized medical emergencies.

“This year, we partnered with the medical team from the Sunburst Marathon (a local marathon event), that way we’d have ambulances and a medical tent, all the necessary precautions,” Green said.  “We were so lucky with the weather this year.”

Sophomore participant Vincent Burns said this year’s weather made for a more enjoyable race experience.  

“I think that the weather this year made it tremendously more fun,” he said. “I wasn’t worried that I was going to faint, whereas last year people were falling left and right.”

Burns said he also enjoyed the new course designed by this year’s event planners.

“I really liked the course this year,” Burns said.  “It was basically the reverse of the course they had last year and it made for a much more enjoyable race … because the lakes were towards the end instead of running around the edge of campus [at the end of the race].”

The new course design treated racers to a view of the golden dome as they ran down Notre Dame Ave., finishing on Irish Green.   

Green said the 13.1-mile course is popular because it is run entirely on Notre Dame’s campus. In addition to organizing the event, Green ran the race the last two years, giving her unique insight into the experience.  

“The whole time I was running I could see when we did a good job marking this, or that that spot was clear, I can follow that,” Green said.  “I’m not sure how big [this race] can get because it’s all on campus, and it depends on the course’s capacity.”

University administration capped the race at 1,000 racers, but allowed the organizers to open the waiting list because around 200 people indicated late interest in participating, Green said.  

She said the event is unique because it attracts both experienced racers and more casual competitors.  

“It’s tricky that there are all these alumni coming in and it might be their first [half] marathon … right next to graduate students who have been training really hard,” Green said.

Graduate student Tyler Kreipke, who won this year’s Holy Half with a time of 76 minutes, said he used the race as an indication of his fitness level as he prepares for the upcoming Indianapolis Half Marathon and Chicago Marathon.

“This race was [an opportunity] to go out and gauge where my fitness level was at, and to get into a competitive race to prepare and see where I’m at going into the Indianapolis Half Marathon,” he said.

Kreipke said he planned to start with the lead pack of runners and play the rest of the race by ear.

“I started out with a few people at the front of the race – about three or four when we started off – and just hung with them,” Kreipke said. “At about four or five miles, the group started to spread out and then [I] was kind of in no-man’s land and settled into my own pace.”

Kreipke said he was happy with his first-place performance, despite an in-race injury.

“My fitness was better than I expected to see at this point, so that was promising,” Kreipke said.  “But right towards the end, I was running on the edge of the sidewalk to try to get the shortest line when my foot slipped off and I sprained my ankle.”

Kreipke said he was lucky enough to be about 600 meters from the finish and finished the race on adrenaline.  

“At the end I wasn’t absolutely exhausted. I still had a little gas left in the case,” Kreipke said.  “It was a really fun course and really nice to get to run around campus.”

Sophomore Erin Hanratty said she enjoyed the on-campus race and the challenge it provided.  She said the training plan provided by the Holy Half organizers prepared her well for the race.

“Everyone hits a wall at ten miles, apparently, and so did I,” Hanratty said.  “The last three miles were the hardest.  At 10 miles it was kind of hard, but I kept going and didn’t stop.”

Looking ahead to next year, Green said she wants to build on the momentum created by this year’s raffle, expanding the event to include a weekend for the alumni interested in attending.

Green said the event’s capacity to strengthen Notre Dame’s connection with the surrounding community is one of the important features of the race.

“The Holy Half Marathon directly engages part of the University’s mission: to engage the greater South Bend area,” Green said.