For Your Health

2013 Flying Pig Preview

Chad W. Lutz
Every year in early May, the streets of Cincinnati run wild with swine. Thousands of runners converge on the Queen City to tackle one of Ohio's most time-honored traditions: The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Sponsored by P&G, the event boasts several challenging and exciting races in addition to the marathon main event, including a half marathon, 5k, 10k and kid's fun run. This year represents the 15th running of the Flying Pig marathon, which looks set to break participation records. The first Flying Pig marathon held in 1999 featured a race field of only 6,200 runners. The 2012 edition of the event featured nearly 4,300 runners in the marathon field alone. In total, close to 20,000 runners will lace up for Flying Pig events held throughout this upcoming weekend, which kick off Friday with the health and fitness expo held at the Duke Energy Center downtown.

My only experiences with the Flying Pig include the ill-fated 2010 events and the 10k in 2011. As race weekend drew nearer in 2010, the forecast became more and more brooding. I was signed up for the half marathon; it was my second-ever half marathon, and it was one I will never forget. To this day, participants of the 2010 marathon and half marathon still talk about it. With lightning stretching out dangerously across the sky just before the start and torrential downpours for the first eight miles, it's the kind of thing that's hard to forget. The only other time the Flying Pig hosted less-than-desirable weather was in 2006. Most other years have held ideal running temperatures; 50 and partly cloudy with a slight breeze; the Natti by any other name.
A spectator cheers on runners during the torrential downpours of the 2010 Flying Pig (www.flyingpigmarathon.com)
The 2013 race weekend begins Friday with the Health and Fitness Expo put on by P&G at the Duke Energy Center. Doors open at noon on Friday and remain open until 7:00pm. The expo continues Saturday, May 4 from 10:00am to 7:00pm. There will be no packet or race bib pick up on Sunday, the day of the marathon and half marathon events. Participants must have a VALID, photo ID in order to pick up race packets at the expo. On hand at the expo will be a smattering of health and fitness-related companies ranging from major shoe brands and fitness apparel retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods, Asics, Mizuno and Brooks as well as local running stores like Fleet Feet Sports and Bob Roncker's Running Spot.

Running any of the races? Be sure to be on the lookout for Marathonfoto photographers along the way. Marathonfoto takes pictures at hundreds of events across the country and supplies runners with high-definition keepsakes to remember the moment. Photographers will be placed sporadically along the course, including the start and finish swines, so be sure to bring your best mug along with you and smile pretty (or not) for the camera. Marathonfoto posts all photos taken to their website, www.marathonfoto.com, after each race.

The Toyota 10k kicks off Saturday's events at 8:00am, which continue with the Tri-State Running Company 5k at 10:00am. Spots are still available for the 5k and 10k. Runners can access late online registration by following this link. Sunday gets things going early with a 6:25am start time for the wheelchair field of the Flying Pig marathon followed immediately by the start of the marathon and half marathon events. Once participants cross the infamous Finish Swine, accosted by marathon event staff dressed in giant, puffy pig costumes, finishers receive commemorative medals, post-race snacks, and access to the Post Race Party held at Yeatman's Cove, including live entertainment.

Over the years, the City of Cincinnati has truly embraced the Flying Pig and the race now stands as sort of a spring icon. Every year, dozens of my Cincinnati brethren in Buckeye text me to ask me if I'll be running the Pig, and every year I wish I was. The Boston Marathon has captured my heart, along with any sort of rationale regard for my legs, but the Flying Pig is where my heart truly fell in Love with running. Even despite the rains and thunder in 2010, thousands of spectators lined the busy city streets and parks to cheer on their fellow Cincinnatians. I use the term in a blanket manner because during Flying Pig weekend, no matter who you are, you are a Cincinnatian. The city comes alive for its race, and it's truly something to behold.
No swine-ing allowed.