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Fifteenth annual Holy Half Marathon raises money for local children’s charity

| Monday, April 8, 2019

Over 1,600 people ran a route weaving across and around Notre Dame’s campus in the 15th Holy Half Marathon and 10k race this past Saturday.

“We’ve grown from two years ago, when we only had 1,500 allowed,” junior and event director Abby Smith said. “We upped the capacity to 1,700. Generally, the interest is at around 2,300 people, so our waitlist is pretty long.”

Erin Finnessy
Students and visitors of Notre Dame run through campus on the running route of the Holy Half Marathon and 10k Race on April 6.

Smith and fellow event directors junior Kateri Budo and senior Logan Arnold work with a team of 11 other students who begin planning for the event in August.

The students serve in a variety of roles to assist with every aspect of the race, including volunteer coordination, course mapping, social media and choosing the nonprofit organization the proceeds will benefit.

The race, which was originally started as a means of fundraising for Hurricane Katrina relief, has now shifted its focus to supporting local organizations.

“We usually try and find organizations that have an affiliation with either St. Joseph County or Notre Dame,” Smith said.

This year, the proceeds of the race will go to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program of St. Joseph County and Education Bridge.

“The CASA Program of St. Joseph County gives legal aid to children, and Education Bridge, who we donated to two years ago, was started by a Notre Dame grad,” Smith said. “Basically, they build schools in South Sudan.  They’re a very young organization, but it’s cool because that means our donation is super impactful to them, because they can really use the funds.”

Freshman John Sheridan, who finished second overall and was the male overall student winner, said he did not know how large the charity component of the race was until after the race. Sheridan, like many runners, said he decided to participate in the Holy Half as a personal goal to work towards.

“I was a big runner in high school, and I like to have my eyes ahead for something, so it was cool to have something to train for,” Sheridan said. “The Holy Half obviously is a huge deal on campus, so I felt like it would be cool to try to train for that — so I guess it paid off.”

A significant change to the event this year was the addition of an awards ceremony.

“We’ve always in the past given the winners some sort of prize, but that was just a very private event,” Arnold said. “The winner would come up to us afterwards, and we would just hand them the medal.”

This year, the three event directors announced the awards at a ceremony where members of the band played the Victory March and Alma Mater. Representatives from both CASA and Education Bridge also spoke.

“We invited them to speak during the awards ceremony to share what their mission is about to see where the money that the Holy Half raises goes to,” Arnold said.

Another change to the race this year was some modifications to the course route. The route is generally the same every year; starting at Stepan Center and going west, it laps the campus twice, passing by many iconic Notre Dame landmarks like the library, the grotto and the dome.

“Last year was actually short by a little under half a mile — which is a lot — so this year, our race director has run it like four times now to measure,” Smith said.

This year, the route seemed as though it was longer than 13.1 miles.

“There was some construction along the intended race route that we did not know about until Friday afternoon,” Arnold said. “We found out about it way too last-minute to do anything so we just went around it. So that added some distance to the course and was also just a little frustrating.”

Sheridan said his watch recorded it as 13.24 miles, but added that GPS is not perfectly accurate.

“I heard people say 13.4, which is crazy, but I think it was long, but not by that much — not enough to affect anything,” Sheridan said.

In its 15 years, the Holy Half has become a popular Notre Dame tradition, drawing students, alumni and members of the surrounding Notre Dame community.

“I feel like it just brings everyone together, because there were just so many people yesterday that I had no idea ran and they were just so proud of themselves and running with people that they maybe would never interact with,” Sheridan said. “It’s a big community-building thing, which I think is awesome.”

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