It was to be a quick stop. Attending the expo on Friday, even though I had a race in Columbus on Saturday was a logistical decision, and turned out to be a wise one. Arriving shortly after opening, the lines were already long, and did not get shorter during my stay.
The packet pickup for the Flying Pig Marathon weekend was divided into two stops – race numbers at the Millennium hotel (the host hotel for the weekend) – swag and expo across the street at the convention center. Bib numbers had to be collected first, as the shirt, poster, and premium bag could only be collected after.
The Flying Pig Marathon offers several different race options including a kids marathon (where the 26 miles are run in increments with the final mile on race weekend), a flying fur run (a two-mile run with dogs on saturday afternoon), a 5 and 10k on Saturday morning, and a half and full marathon on Sunday. In addition runners can compete in a Pump n Run event which combines running and weight lifting.
The race start turned out to be about a 3/4 mile walk from the host hotel. Starting just outside of Paul Brown stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals. Runners taking in the skyline hurried into corrals ready to for the 6:30 AM start. The course was beautiful and crowd support was heavy. Shortly after the start the race went past the Cincinnati Reds Ballpark. Winding along the river the turns and hills quickly led runners to the Bridge where we passed into Kentucky for the next leg of the race.
While most of the race is hilly, the flying pig is known for “the hill”… a nearly two-mile climb that takes you to the top of the city. The climb is big – but the payoff in the view from the top is bigger. There is a sense of camaraderie along this stretch of road, and throughout the challenge runners pushed forward with smiles on their faces.
Once the hill is completed, most of the remaining miles are downhill – this course is anything but flat and fast – however those who dare to pick up speed on the down hills can make up some of the time from their climb. This part of the race was also marked by sweet treats – with the crowds handing out licorice, jolly ranchers, and swedish fish. None of this however could compete with the beer – nicely placed at the 12.5 mile mark – just before the “finish swine”.
The medal for this race is two-sided. The half medal is smaller than the full – which also has a colorful ribbon. There was some complaint about the ribbon for the half, I however did not mind. Runners expect a significant upgrade in the medal for the full – and it seems to me that upgrading the ribbon is a great way to add perceived value without and excessive cost for the race directors. Besides, it gives me something to come back and work for next year! If I was to do anything differently, it would be to book a hotel closer to the finish line at the Red’s Stadium. The host hotel, while very convenient for the expo, was a mile away from the finish – and almost completely uphill! Despite this, it was a great weekend running – an event I would highly recommend to all in the running community.