Early-morning runs lead to half-marathon for Loyola senior
Not many college students are even awake at 5:30 a.m.
But one morning a week you’ll find Gianna Mautone, '13, not only out of bed, but jogging through the streets of Baltimore City with other members of Back On My Feet. The national nonprofit organization works to create independence and self-sufficiency within homeless and other underserved populations by engaging them in running and in the community to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem.
"You realize how happy people can be at that hour in the morning and how awesome the community is. You have something to wake up for," she said. "You have something motivating you."
Mautone, an English and Spanish double major from Hunterdon County, N.J., finds it's worth it to miss some sleep on Wednesday mornings to run with other members of Back On My Feet.
"Running is one of the best ways to build a relationship because it's just you and them and the birds. You just get to talk to people while you’re running," she said. "Even if I haven’t gotten extremely close to people, it's just everyone coming together with a common goal."
Because of the unity of the group, and because everyone is running together, it’s not always clear which of the runners have a place to sleep at night and which are experiencing homelessness. But Mautone falls easily into conversation with her fellow joggers.
"These are people who are experiencing something, and i's unfortunate, but they’re smart and they’re all people with stories, smiles, and hugs," she said. "It’s just very cool to be able to see people with a name and a face."
Mautone became involved in Back On My Feet through her work with Campus Ministry, where she met Patrick Range, assistant director of Campus Ministry, whose wife, Jackie Truncellito, '05, is director of communication and corporate relations for Back On My Feet in Baltimore.
"I would never have been able to get up that early in the morning when I was in college," Range said. "These students sort of had that sort of tilt to want to engage outside the bubble."
When the Baltimore Running Festival was held Oct. 12, Mautone, Lauren Janniello, '12—a speech-language pathology graduate student who also runs with Back On My Feet—and Katie Joumas, '13, were among the Loyola students who decided to run the half-marathon.
Mautone, who loves running, thoroughly enjoyed herself. And she’s still trying to decide whether she wants to run a marathon one day.
"At this point, I haven’t caught the marathon bug," she said. "I’m just not mentally there yet, but I really liked the half-marathon distance. I wasn’t sure if I was trained enough or not, but it wound up being a fun distance. I felt good afterwards. I had heard from people that the Baltimore Running Festival is so much fun and there's so much energy—and there was."