Thursday, October 2, 2003

Flying Pig set for new course

Local race also to announce new director

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon will announce today a new director and a new direction.

Don Connolly, the guru of local race managers with more than 700 races to his credit, is taking over for Rich Williams, who parted ways with the marathon in June after serving as race director the first five years.

When: May 2, 2004.

How to register: By mail or online. Mail registrations can be done by downloading the form at Web site or by calling the Pig offices at 513-721-PIGS to have a form mailed to you. Registration on the Web site should begin later this week.

Cost: For individuals, registering by Jan. 20 costs $55; registering between Jan. 21-April 5 is $65; late registration is $80. Two-person relays are $130. Four-person relays are $260. Corporate four-person relays (proceeds to charity) are $500.

Information: Call 513-721-PIGS.

The marathon also is planning a host of additions and changes, including a new course layout and a planned 5K run. The sixth annual Pig will be run May 2, 2004.

"Every year we try to raise the bar - add some new twists and enhance some of the events," said Iris Simpson-Bush, the Pig's executive director.

The event continues to grow. It attracted 6,163 participants in 1999 for the inaugural race and climbed to a high of 9,271 this year. It's already the 17th-largest marathon in the nation, Simpson-Bush said.

The course map hasn't been set, but some details are certain:

The race will start downtown and go to Northern Kentucky and back, then head for Eden Park - getting most of the hills out of the way early. It then will travel through East Walnut Hills and Hyde Park. Organizers hope to extend the course farther east, at least into Fairfax. Then it will return on Eastern Avenue and end at Sawyer Point.

"Previously, it went back through downtown before having the last few miles in Northern Kentucky and coming back for the finish," Connolly said. "Psychologically, runners don't like that - seeing the finish and going past it.

"Now, as you come into the city from the east side, you'll know, 'I'm home.' "

A course advisory committee was created for the first time, led by the likes of world-class runner John Sence, triathlete Michael Folan, and Karen Cosgrove and Ruth Ann Little of the Leukemia Society's Team in Training program.

After a handful of changes in recent years, Connolly said the intention is to set a course design that will last.

Connolly, who has managed nearly every other local race at some point, is best known for a 30-year tenure as the Thanksgiving Day Race director. The organizational structure of the Pig is changing to delegate responsibilities and prepare for future growth.

Two positions under Connolly have been created: Ric Wetterauer has been elevated to operations coordinator; Kelly Weissmann, the Pig's former executive director, returns as logistics coordinator.

Other changes in the works:

• The 5K, not yet finalized, would be a complement to the 10K.

"A lot of people want to be a part of this but can't run a marathon. But they think, 'I can do a 5K,' " Simpson-Bush said. "We want to open it to different ability levels."

• Walkers will be officially permitted and added as a category. They begin the marathon at 5 a.m.; runners begin at 6:30.

"We had a reputation of not being walker-friendly, and we want them to feel they have their own division," Simpson-Bush said.

• The Flying Pig Fitness Gig, a collaborative project with Time Warner Cable to introduce information about running and nutrition in area classrooms, will begin soon.

Schools interested in information should call 513-721-PIGS.


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