Some of the Trinity runners at the start line of the 2012 race
The Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge was developed in 2008 with the arrival of the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon/Half-Marathon to San Antonio. The Rock 'n' Roll event attracts 25,000 participants annually. The Trinity University Dean of Students has used this race to combine a personal passion for running, with a professional passion for student education, growth, and development.
Over the past seven years hundreds of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni have participated in the Trinity training program. The stated "challenges" are related to attempting the 13.1 mile race and serving the community to reduce hunger and address homelessness.
The program features several weekly group runs (including increasingly longer weekend runs) from August through November. Seminars with outside presenters on topics such as buying proper shoes and equipment, running technique, and nutrition offer learning beyond the classroom. Participants include first-time runners and experienced runners at different levels - each trying to reach a milestone by finishing a half-marathon or setting a personal record.
Socially, the program features informal post-race dining opportunities, a Dean-sponsored taco breakfast at a restaurant in the community, a pre-race pasta dinner, and group transportation to the running expo and race.
While running is an individual sport, training groups routinely run for a cause to support others. Trinity University runners conduct an annual food drive in support of the San Antonio Food Bank. In 2010 Trinity graduate Kayla Mire tragically passed away in a one-car accident. She had worked with the Dean of Students to complete her degree after suffering mental illness and was also an ardent supporter of the homeless. The annual food food drive was named in her honor in 2011. Her parents spoke to the runners at the organizational meeting.
While the program is about health and wellness and becoming involved in the community through the food drive, training together has allowed for many other positive benefits. The long runs feature routes along the famed San Antonio River Walk and local parks. One run takes the group through the Pearl Brewery Farmer's Market. Another includes a run to a nearby lake. One weekend run, informally dubbed the "homelessness run," winds through the neighborhood with San Antonio's largest homeless shelter. This run is designed specifically to contrast the placid wealthy neighborhood routes early in the training with the stark reality of the more needy areas of our community.
The program allows the University to make a bold statement to the San Antonio community. The Trinity bookstore sells participants running shirts at cost. A sea of maroon-clad Trinity runners (typically 100 strong) is visible to community members cheering along the route. In 2009 and 2010 the Trinity group placed first (based on number of participants) in the race-wide Get Fit Challenge competition, large corporation division.
Thus students are taught about their own mental and physical capabilities through challenging their limits; have impact on others through the food drive; discover their local surroundings by learning a variety of running routes; grow individually; and connect and support the San Antonio community.
73,147 total equivalent pounds in eight years.