Annual Holy Half Marathon raises money for Direct Relief
Alexandra Muck | Monday, April 9, 2018
Over 1600 runners participated in this year’s Holy Half Marathon and 10k races, which were held Saturday. Senior Anna Lyons, the president of the Holy Half club and one of the race directors, said 300 people participated in the 10k and 1300 runners participated in the half marathon. Lyons said an additional 500 runners were on this year’s wait list.
“It’s such a great tradition,” she said. “People get so excited about it. We have alumni come in, families come in to watch their kids run or run with them. The students train really hard for it. … All the money goes to charity, so it’s for a really great cause.”
This year, the proceeds from the registration fees are going to Direct Relief, which is helping those affected by recent natural disasters.
“This year, in light of all the natural disasters that have been in Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida — we decided to give back to a natural disaster relief charity,” Lyons said.
Lyons said the Holy Half started 14 years ago to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
“This year we thought it would be cool to go back to the roots of the race,” she said.
One of the best parts of the race is the mix of people who run, Lyons said.
“We definitely have people who are really serious about running and running it for time and that’s so great to see to give them a place to do that, but then we also have so many first-time runners,” she said. “ … The community element is really great.”
Flannan Hehir, a senior and the winner of this year’s half marathon, said the cause is one of the reasons he runs.
“The cause is such a great thing,” he said. “I think so many of your peers are out there supporting you and you’re supporting them, so it’s kind of a mutual relationship where people benefit a lot. … It’s always a cool race.”
Daniel Duran, a senior who ran the 10k, said the cause and the motivation to workout were reasons he ran.
“You give money to a good cause, and working out is always good for you,” he said. “It gives you a good excuse to get in shape again.”
To organize the race, Lyons said the club of just over 10 members has to handle a variety of tasks ranging from obtaining sponsors, overseeing registration, printing t-shirts and medals and coordinating the course logistics.
“Every part of the year we’re doing something different,” she said. “In the beginning of the year it’s a lot about contacting charities and sponsors and trying to get that squared away, and then we have to handle everyone’s registration and make sure that gets publicized. In the spring, it’s a lot of planning the logistics of the course and coordinating all the deliveries and making sure everything is squared away.”
Not all clubs on campus necessarily allow students to organize an event from start to finish, which is one of the things sophomore Abby Smith, secretary of the Holy Half club and race director, said she likes about the Holy Half.
“We never really stop planning it,” she said. “ … It’s also a lot of cross-communication. You’re not just planning something with one person. You have to talk to four or five different people from different areas of the University that make sure things get done.”
Senior Katie Lee, the vice president of the club and a race director, said seeing the end of the race makes the work worth it.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s really rewarding to see everyone finishing and have everyone’s friends and families cheering them on,” she said. “We get a lot of good feedback, so getting that makes it worth it.”
The club members rely on the help of volunteers, especially at the water stations. Some of the water stations are manned by dorms on campus, such as the Flaherty water station.
“We have a lot of girls in Flaherty who run the Holy Half, so it’s fun to support them,” Emma Gentine, a junior who was working the station, said. “ … All the runners are very appreciative of everyone who volunteers, and you can make it a lot of fun just screaming and cheering for people, so it’s definitely worth it.”
Hannah Morris, a sophomore in Flaherty who also worked the station, said holding out water is something easy to do for those running 13.1 miles.
“People are always very friendly and seeing their smiling faces as they grab a cup of water is a pretty nice moment,” she said.