The Cincinnati "Flying Pig" Marathon
is a relatively
held in the spring in
This year, 2001, marked the 3rd annual Flying Pig Marathon
The participation in this marathon is around 6000 runners,
making it one of the smaller city marathons, in contrast
to the 25,000+ runners of the New York City or Chicago marathons. However, this year
there were spectators lining the streets in the residential
areas, and the density of runners was such that one rarely
was running alone.
Cincinnati is hilly, very hilly in parts. Driving around
the Mt. Adams area of town is enough to give a runner nightmares.
Luckily, the course avoids the short, steep hills as much as
The starting line is on Seventh Street at Race Street.
After running around the flat grid of downtown and the
Riverfront area, the race heads uphill
towards Eden Park. The view from the park, overlooking
the Ohio River and across to Kentucky, is splendid.
These hills, occuring early in the race are long, but
not too steep. If you incorperated some hills into your workouts
you should be fine, going nice and steady up them.
After leaving the park, you run into the Walnut Hills
neighborhood (I think) and begin a long downhill grade.
In fact, while miles 3-7 were mostly uphill (miles 5-7 the
steepest) miles 7-15 are all predominantly downhill. This
give your legs and lungs a rest, but you still have to remember
to conserve energy. Between miles 9 and 10 the
course goes through the quaint Hyde Park Square and neighborhood
where there were great crowds cheering us onward.
Miles 11-12 are a steeper downhill toward the Ohio River
and Eastern Avenue which leads back to downtown. At mile
17 the course is very close to the start, which is a bit
heartbreaking. You know the finish is downtown near the start,
but then the course leads away into western Cincinnati. Here,
we follow Central Parkway west and north into a more urban
area. There are freight trains and warehouses around
more frequently. Only at mile 20 do you start heading
back toward the finish line. At this point in my race my legs
really started aching, but not as badly as in the Marine Corps
Marathon. Still, knowing that we had to run in Kentucky
before finishing, I knew it wouldn't be a cakewalk the rest of the
At mile 23, you might think, only 3 more miles, great! I was
trying to drill this happy thought into my head as I came in
view of the bridge from hell. Ok, it was just a normal bridge,
(the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, apparently), but as I started up
the long uphill grade my right knee rebelled. Well, the positive
side of this was that the sharp explosive pain by my kneecap took
my mind off of the nagging, pounding pain I'd had in my left foot
for most of the race. However, it put in my mind the depressing
thought of having to drop out of the race 2-3 miles from its
finish. Eventually, I reached the top of the bridge and gravity
help pull me off of it toward the 24 mile marker.
The next mile consisted of trudging and plodding through
Covington, KY to, yes you guessed it, another bridge
(the Taylor-Southgate Bridge, apparently).
I walked-jogged uphill, each step a challenge to my instinct to
lie down on the pavement and cry like a toddler. Once at the
top of the bridge I could see the arches of pink and black
balloons and the music at the finish line. Back to my "God,
just get me there before I die" jogging pace, and around some
exit ramp with toilet-bowl geometry, and there began the long
home stretch. Thankfully there were fans and finished
relay runners lining the way to cheer the way to Yeatman's
The 2001 course was changed from the 2000 course.
Comparing the elevation maps, it looks like they changed it to
have the start be flatter until mile 5, then there are a couple
more elevation changes later in the new course than the previous one.
Even with the pain of the last 3 miles, I still managed
a new PR of 3:32:49. The men's winner
was Rudolf Jun with a time of 2:28:07 and the
women's winner was Becky Gallaher at 2:50:50.
The weather was warm,
but comfortable during my part of the run. The crowds,
volunteers, and runners were all very supportive and friendly.
I recommend this marathon for its intimate feel and
The Flying Pig is somehow a mascot of Cincinnati.
I think it has something to do with Cincinnati once being
a huge pork-producing city.
May 2002 update
A new PR for me this year: 3:28:44!
It was the same course as last year; the weather was
a little cool and foggy for the first 2 hours then the clouds
cleared and the day warmed up. Tatyana Pozdnyakova broke the
women's course record by 15 minutes with a time of 2:34:35, finishing
just a few minutes after the first male finisher, Cornelio
Velasco who finished the course in 2:31:13. Also noteworthy
was Greg Osterman, a heart transplant recipient, whose finish
here (5:16:36) was his sixth marathon run since the operation.
The men's wheelchair race was won by Chad Johnson with a time of