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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

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Holy Half unites runners and spectators

Community and endurance shine at Notre Dame's annual marathon event

On Saturday, volunteers and spectators filled Notre Dame’s campus with cheers and excitement as they gathered to support the 1,700 runners racing in the Holy Half Marathon.

The Holy Half Marathon has occurred annually since 2004 and has been raising money for South Bend charities since 2011. This year, the marathon partnered with Cultivate Food Rescue and Girls on the Run Michiana.

“It was just really nice seeing, one, the different age ranges that participated was really cool, and then seeing everybody so excited at packet pickup and then on race day,” Holy Half committee member Sofia de Lira said. “I feel like everybody that was a part of it was super excited to do so. It wasn't a chore for anybody.”

The fastest runners led off the race at 9 a.m., with two more waves of runners following behind them. The male overall winner was Atticus Stonestrom with a time of 1:14:16.2, and the female overall winner was Olivia Dietzel with a time of 1:19:34.7. 

“It was just kind of cool seeing how much effort people put into it,” de Lira said. “Especially like people that have no interest in running that just want to put it together.” 

Holy Half committee members spent all of Friday preparing for the race and arrived at the starting site at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday to complete the final race-day preparations. De Lira volunteered at a Lyons Hall water station outside of the Rockne Memorial Gym during the race.

“Running out of water at the water station and getting to waterfall it into everyone's mouth, that was definitely the highlight,” de Lira said. “But then another personal highlight is I went and found Mia and gave her her little applesauce, and so I was happy to be able to do that and help her push through her last miles.”

Mia Valli, De Lira's roommate, had asked De Lira to hand her a packet of applesauce as she passed by the water station during their run. However, when Valli first passed the station, she forgot to take the applesauce. Realizing this, De Lira quickly located Valli, who was now four miles ahead, and hurried to catch up to her, ensuring she delivered the applesauce before Valli went much further.

“I think it was excellent,” junior Katiebelle Thompson said. “The vibes were just full of energy and a lot of joy for the people who put in the work to run the marathon. I was very happy to be a part of cheering on my friends who were running the half.”

Race participants had the option to complete a 2-lap 13.1-mile race or a 1-lap 10k. The race started and ended at the Stepan Center, and the course led participants all around campus with water stations near St. Joesph’s lake, Rockne Memorial Gym, McGlinn Fields and Notre Dame Stadium.

“The best aspect of the race was really the end,” freshman Ted Schroder said. “It was really phenomenal. This was my first actual race, so it was nice to be able to run through that finish line, give it your all at the end, to see the end in sight rather than ‘oh I hit my time.’”

Schroder began the race with a group and split off from them around mile four. Schroder commented that while the race was difficult around miles eight and 10.

“I didn’t start running until this fall actually,” Schroder said. “The most I had ever run in my life was four miles, and then through army ROTC and the other people inside ROTC, I was just sort of motivated to get into running.”

This time around was sophomore Mary Jordan’s second time completing the race. Jordan ran with two friends, which all wore matching, homemade shirts to race in.

“I'm not gonna be here next spring, and I'm super bummed that I'm missing it just because I played sports all through high school, so I kind of lacked some sense of purpose since I’m not on the teams here or anything,” Jordan said. “I think it's really cool to see how many people I knew that did it and succeeded no matter where they were in the race.”

Last year, Jordan dedicated each mile in the race to someone. This year, however, Jordan dedicated the entire race to one person.

“My aunt passed a couple years ago, so I dedicated it to her which is special because my cousin ran a marathon, actually today, and it's her mom who passed,” Jordan said. “So that was definitely a high for me.”

Freshman Michael Gawkins ran the race with three senior friends who are a part of army ROTC with him. Together, the four shared the same pace and listened to music together on a speaker.

“Highs were views of the lakes for sure, enjoying the splendor of creation and listening to one of my friend’s playlist,” Gawkins said. “When we turned on the song WAM towards the end of the race, it really added to our speed and overall experience.”

While Gawkins enjoyed the views of running around the lakes, he noted that one of the low points of his race was running on the lakes’ confined gravel paths.

“We all got bananas during the race from some faithful North Quad race watchers,” Gawkins said. “We all took a banana while we were running, which was a really good call.”

On his course journey, Gawkins enjoyed seeing others cheering the runners on. His favorite spectator signs said “speed boost” and “worst parade I’ve ever been to.”

Before the race, Gawkins gathered with other army ROTC members to take a picture, stretch, divide into groups, discuss race strategy and eat energy chews. Following the race, Gawkins enjoyed the food provided by the Holy Half Marathon.

“I'd always heard that it was like a cool Notre Dame tradition, and it sounded like it'd be fun,” Gawkin said. “A lot of my friends were doing it. Just being with my friends was the best part.”