Eleventh annual Holy Half Marathon carries on tradition of community and service


In 2004, a group of Notre Dame students decided to organize a half marathon race.  Little did they know that the group of 80 runners in the event’s first year would eventually grow to over 1,000, making the Holy Half Marathon one of the hallmark traditions of Notre Dame.

Now in its 11th year, the annual Holy Half gathers members of the Notre Dame community together to face the challenge of long-distance running while also serving others.  The first Holy Half donated 1,000 dollars to the Louis J. Acompora Foundation, which works to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, especially in young people.

The following year, Hurricane Katrina struck.  Without hesitation, Notre Dame students found a way to support the thousands of victims—through the Holy Half.   For the next 6 years, proceeds from the popular race supported relief efforts in New Orleans.

Starting in 2011, the Holy Half began to focus on supporting the community of South Bend.  According to the Holy Half website, the event raised more than 140,000 dollars between 2011 and 2014.  Since its first year, the event has been entirely student-run.

This year, proceeds from the race went to two charitable organizations in the area.  The first, La Casa de Amistad, functions as a community center in the west side of South Bend.  According to the center’s website, La Casa de Amistad “offers varied programs in an effort to edify Hispanic youth and adults in development of leadership skills, increase knowledge and appreciation of their own culture, and develop stronger self-esteem, encouraging fuller participation as community members.”

The second organization, St. Margaret’s House, works to support women and children in the area.  The mission statement online emphasizes a commitment to provide “individual attention to their immediate needs, breaking the bonds of isolation and helping them acquire skills to better their lives.”  St. Margaret’s House hospitality services include offering meals, laundry facilities, and counseling programs.

Katie Wood, president of the student club that runs the Holy Half, described to the Rover the accomplishments of this year’s race.  “This year [there were] 1500 runners, including students, faculty, staff, family, alumni, and members of the South Bend community,” she said.  In addition, “about 150 people signed up to volunteer.”

Wood also noted that this year marks an important development in the organization of the event.  “Although this is the 11th year of the Holy Half Marathon, this marks the first year that the Holy Half is an official student club,” she said.  Several officers and committees help lead the club, contact local charities, publicize the event, and organize the day of the race itself.

Over the past decade, the Holy Half Marathon has increased its publicity through social media.  Through its website and Twitter and Facebook pages, the student organization provides viewers with information about the event and the impact it has on others.

One Facebook post contains over 100 individual photos of Holy Half runners, each holding a whiteboard sign reading “I’m running 13.1 because…” along with his or her answer.  Several runners noted their eagerness to challenge themselves, take part in the tradition, run with family and friends, and support a good cause.  Others simply responded with, “because I can!” or the mock complaint, “because this person made me.”

This year, the thousands of people who supported the Holy Half once again made it a success, providing local charities with generous support and continuing a lively and long-lasting tradition.

Sophia Buono is a freshman majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies.  She congratulates all those who ran in the Holy Half Marathon last weekend and admits that if she were to participate next year, she would probably have to begin training tomorrow.  Contact Sophia at sbuono@nd.edu.