Running for a cause this Christmas


Six members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich varsity cross country team will be running the 13.1 mile Big Apple Half Marathon Sunday, December 10 in New York City. The course begins on West Drive near 96th Street and consists of two and a half loops around Central Park, going across 72nd Street, and up Harlem Hill. The runners will cross the finish line on the 102nd Street transverse. Additionally, Sacred Heart runners will be collecting pledges from friends and family for every mile the team runs to support The Foundation for Pediatric Gastrointestinal Illnesses (FPGI).

Varsity cross country runners from left to right Ella Holl ’19, Maggy Wolanske ’18, Anissa Arakal ’19, Karina Badey ’19, Grace Lillis ’21, Lily DeConcini ’20, and Grace Flanagan ’19 together after racing in the 2017 Fairfield Athletic Association Championships. Courtesy of Christopher Pope.

Senior cross country co-captain Maggy Wolanske has been leading sophomore teammate Lily DeConcini and junior teammates Mary Anne Gallagher, Ella Holl, Grace Flanagan, and Gabby Davitch through four weeks of preparation following the end of the cross country season. Maggy has worked together with the runners, creating a plan to steadily increase the mileage the team runs each week. By the week before race day, the team will have run a combined total of 23 miles, running at least three days a week. 
“Having the experience of running a half marathon last year has provided me with the skills to motivate and effectively guide my teammates,” Maggy said. “Additionally, by being one of the cross country captains, it has shown me that a strong bond between the teammates holds a lot of value, and I believe the bond we all have will push each runner through the race.”
This year, Lily, the youngest team member to run the half marathon, joined cross country mid-season. Lily had believed it was a very individualized sport, but she soon realized that cross country was more of a team activity than she had anticipated. She found that the strong team dynamic galvanizes her to improve her running and take on the half marathon.
Teammates training for the half marathon together after school. Karina Badey ‘19

“My teammates and coaches have motivated me to push myself beyond what I believed I was capable of. Additionally, this year, the cross country team had its best season ever. Although the season has ended, joining the team has motivated me to keep on pushing myself by running beyond the fall season with my teammates,” Lily said.
Through the half marathon, the runners will be working to pursue Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria, specifically Goal Three, “a social awareness which impels to action”. Last year, Grace Flanagan worked with her family to create a donor-advised fund to support treatments for and raise awareness about pediatric gastrointestinal illnesses. Grace faced a motility disorder, a type of gastrointestinal illness, just before she joined the Sacred Heart community as a freshman in 2015.
Grace suggested the idea of using NYCRUNS Big Apple Half Marathon event to support her foundation, FPGI. All donations will be directed towards activities that are consistent with FPGI’s mission of providing support for patients and funding research initiatives.
“My teammates and I plan to announce our efforts to the school community, and ask for sponsorship from our family and friends,” Grace said. “My foundation has a webpage that we will send out for more information regarding donations. I hope that people will be inspired by our efforts and donate to the cause we are running for.”
-Karina Badey, Arts and Entertainment Editor