Computer Science Majors, Professor Conquer Runner’s World Festival
How did a few Moravian College computer science majors shatter a stereotype this weekend? One stride at a time, of course.
For the second consecutive year, a small group from the College’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science competed in the annual Runner's World Half Marathon and Running Festival in Bethlehem. On Oct. 19-20, pushed aside their keyboards and laptops for running shoes and water stations. Among those traversing the city this weekend were Allison Samson ’14, Elise Richards ’16, Rameet Kaur ’14, Alek Szilagyi ’14, James Moore ’13, and Matt Lang, assistant professor of computer science.
This group was building on a tradition started the previous year when eight computer science students and Professor Lang traded the computer lab for the open road. Szilagyi explains the initiative grew organically as a few SOAR participants were looking for a way to stay active during their summer research. This search led to recreational running.
“Not many people are expecting computer scientists to get together and run in the afternoon or compete in a half-marathon together on the weekends, but that’s we just did,” he says. “A couple of us wanted to do it, and we convinced the others to do, too.” In 2012, the group started by running the event’s 5K race. This year, another group – Richards, Samson, and Kaur – did the same. However, Szilagyi, Moore and Lang built upon their success by completing a festival “hat trick.” They ran Saturday’s 5K and 10K races as well as Sunday’s half marathon; three races in just two days. This was quite an undertaking, as Moore and Szilagyi didn’t consider themselves runners a year ago.
“We just decided that since we had an entire year to train, let’s just do them all,” reasons Szilagyi.
After 22.4 miles of running and another four-plus miles walking back and forth from the venue, Moore estimates he traversed more than a full marathon this past weekend. He credits 12 weeks of training and his stubbornness for carrying him to the finish line. “I’m not naturally a runner,” Moore explains. “I was able to power through despite through the force of will.”
ABOVE: Moore (from left), Lang and Szilagyi completed a festival “hat trick” this year, running Saturday’s 5K and 10K races as well as Sunday’s half-marathon.
ABOVE: Lang (second from left) set personal bests in his 10k and half-marathon runs. Part of the course took him on the Philip J. Fahy Memorial Bridge, also known as the New Street Bridge.
When soreness settled in Sunday night, Szilagyi couldn’t help but be proud of his accomplishment. “Oh, yeah, there was pain afterward,” he says. “I did a lot of sitting and napping the rest of the day, but I was too proud of myself to actually care about how much I was hurting.”
Lang, who set personal bests in his 10k and half-marathon runs, was also boastful, but for his students. “It has been great to see these students commit to doing something that pushes them beyond what they thought they were capable of,” he says.
Moore, who graduated last May and works for the Vanguard Group in Malvern, returned to Bethlehem because he couldn’t miss an opportunity to run with his former classmates. “It was a lot of fun to get together as a department and do something that was not only social, but also very challenging,” he says. “We were all competing against the course and our own limitations.”
For Lang, a weekend running with his students exemplifies what it means to be a part of the Moravian College community.
“In my opinion, this is what makes coming to Moravian a special experience,” Lang concludes. “Students can excel in computer science and get a one-on-one relationship that extends beyond the classroom and even the discipline. Our department is about more than just computer science.”
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