Monday, May 15, 2000

Runners start off along Fifth Street.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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Marathoners happy as pigs in slop

Cool morning welcome relief to runners, spectators

By Cindi Andrews and John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Runners pass Fountain Square.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        It'd be a stretch to say the second Flying Pig Marathon was no sweat, but cool weather, a new course and a plethora of painted pigs made it festive.

        Rudolph Jun, last year's runner-up, won the Pig in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 4 seconds. Jun, a 28-year-old Czech living in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., led from start to finish.

        Rebecca Gallaher, who grew up in Sharonville and lives now in Mississippi, won the women's division in 2:49:32.

        “It was our Mother's Day present — sweaty kisses,” said Mary Kay Taylor of Mason, wife of relay runner Chris.

        The weather was perfect.

        “We got a break,” race director Rich Williams said. “It makes a huge difference.”

        Cooler weather meant a only few dozen of the 6,200 runners ended up in the medical tent. Last year, in hotter weather, hundreds were treated.

        From the starting squeal to the finish line, spectators lined the 26.2 miles shouting encouragement — and other thoughts — to competitors.

        “If you don't finish, I'll meet you at the finish line anyway,” Kim Allen of Deer Park yelled to her husband, Dave, in Mile 14 near Lunken Airport. “I swear to God this is more work for me than it is for him,” she added, toting a backpack of first aid supplies and snacks.

        Hyde Park rooter Kim Walters threw a marathon party complete with danish pastry, fresh fruit and vodka for the orange juice. Coffee was a bigger hit, with temperatures in the low 40s early Sunday.

        “We're here to cheer on the whole pack,” said Ms. Walters, who entertained about two dozen friends in her sloping Observatory Avenue yard.

Christopher Schultheis, 5, waits for his mom to pass through Hyde Park.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Front runners appreciated the crowds.

        “It was awesome,” said Isaac Barnes, who finished second. “Every corner you turn, there would be people cheering. That keeps you going.”

        There were two minor glitches: wheelchair winner Franz Nietlispach came down the wrong chute to the finish, and the post-race bottled water supply temporarily ran out.

        “Things went very smoothly,” Mr. Williams said.

        He said he will reserve judgment on the new route until he hears from runners, but “I don't anticipate changing the course.”

Spectators cheer at the halfway point.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Many who had friends and relatives in the marathon caught up with them at three or more spots along the course. Bill Hoff of Dayton, Ohio, said his group figured out when daughter-in-law Sheila Hoff of Loveland should reach different locations and saw her at four of their five stops.

        Those who were less prepared had more trouble getting around the many marathon-related road blocks.

        Most traffic moved smoothly, Cincinnati Police Lt. Ron Higgins said. Reported problems included runners blocking parishioners trying to reach several churches, including St. Rose and St. Stephen churches on Eastern Avenue, and St. Joseph Church on Ezzard Charles Drive.

Michelle Willoghby and Michelle Deeley wear pig ears.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        The Rev. Philip Seher, pastor at St. Joseph, complained that only two of more than 40 worshipers were able to get to the church for Mass. He urged city officials to arrange the race so it does not interfere with church services anywhere.

        Spectators also got an early eyeful of the Big Pig Gig, an outdoor exhibit of painted pigs. Inspired by last summer's bovine sculptures in Chicago, the porkers are expected to be a tourist draw when they all go on display next month.

        About 50 of the 380 pigs that have been purchased by sponsors were placed along the marathon course, although most were not in their permanent locations.

A runner pauses to photograph one of the Big Pig Gig statues along the route.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        “Now that's a good-looking pig,” Barbara Pula said of one colorful creature at Fountain Square. The Florence, Ky., newcomer said she wanted to get pig T-shirts for her family “because they won't believe it.”

        Sunday, the pigs were entertainment for restless kids who found the roughly 3-foot artworks perfect for climbing.

        “Be careful on the pig, guys,” mom Julie Highley of Amelia warned from her spot on Eggleston Avenue, conveniently close to a bright blue pig. “We don't want to break him.”


Pig Stories
-Marathoners happy as pigs in slop
Pain fades, pride lasts
Men's winner: Second time charm for Jun
Women's winner: Hills no sweat to Sharonville native
Wheelchair winner: Wrong turn to finish line
Pig Notebook: Bridges were tough finish