Friday, April 30, 2004

Many faraway roads lead to race's starting point

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cheyenne Caine would drag herself out of bed at 2 a.m. to prepare for her long training runs for the Flying Pig Marathon.

By 2:45 a.m. her husband was also awake, and by 3 a.m. they were on the road - Cheyenne winding around the streets of her hometown, Kingston, Jamaica, and her husband behind her in their car to make sure she was safe.

SPECIAL SECTION Flying Pig Marathon section
Said Caine: "There were so many mornings ... when you have to dig deep and ask, 'Is this goal what I really want? Am I really willing to do whatever it takes?' "

She decided she was, and that meant training in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the Caribbean sun. It also means making the day-long trip today through four different airports to arrive in Cincinnati for her first marathon.

Caine is one of several marathoners who will log thousands of miles just to get to the starting line Sunday. Runners from 49 states and eight countries are registered.

Caine picked the Pig because of the weather, its semi-hilly course that's similar to her home, and recommendations from the Internet and friends in her local running club who ran the marathon two years ago.

Word of the Flying Pig also traveled to Santiago, Chile, and Luis de la Mora will make the 12-hour plane trip to run in his first marathon. De la Mora knows nothing of Cincinnati except the Bengals and the Reds, but he heard from a friend that the Pig's crowd support would be good for a first-timer.

"I was looking for a friendly place and a safe place," de la Mora said. "When I found the Cincinnati Flying Pig, it looked really nice."

Atsushi Kato, a 19-time marathoner from Tokyo, is taking a three-week class at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and is trying to run as many U.S. marathons as he can while he's here. The Pig will be his fourth this trip after running in French Lick, Ind., on April 18, Louisville April 24 and Toledo April 25. He ran better than 3:35 in the last two and also hopes to run in Lake Geneva, Wis., on May 8.

Runners from Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico are expected to race. On a national level, the Pig is missing only a North Dakota runner.

Mike Rodriguez, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., the American runner with the most miles accumulated in the Pig's history, will make the 1,000-plus-mile trek to his hometown for his sixth Pig.

Along with potential jet lag, the biggest adjustments of training in one place and racing in another can be the weather and the geography, the runners said. While de la Mora said the climate in Santiago is about the same as it is here now, Caine and Rodriguez welcome the race day's 60-degree forecast. The hills are a different story.

"You can't find a hill to save your life (in South Florida), except for this one local part of town that's an old trash heap," Rodriguez said. "So far every year, I've kind of dreaded it, thinking this will be the year the hills kill me, but so far they haven't."

But running in a new place can benefit runners by adding to the excitement.

"It weighs both ways," Caine said. "You know you have to make an effort. You can't just roll out of bed or sleep in and decide, 'Oh, I'll race another day...' "

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