Monday, May 07, 2001

Final finisher's story a triumph of spirit

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Flying Pig Marathon's first finisher, Rudolf Jun, gets the headlines. But the woman who crossed more than six hours later was no less a winner.

        Katie Hahn walked 26.2 miles Sunday, nearly 26 miles farther than she could five months ago. The marathon's final finisher — in eight hours, 37 minutes — was as triumphant as anyone.

        “It's important for me because I did something I thought I could never do,” said Hahn, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher from Dayton, Ohio. “I couldn't have done it by myself. It takes a team to help you, and it takes heart and spirit.”

        In December, trying to get fit, Hahn joined the Team in Training group. Each member has a “hero,” a patient in whose honor they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Hers is Westin Fox, a 15-year-old Springboro boy with leukemia.

        At first, Hahn couldn't walk a mile. Then, slowly, she could.

        Her Team in Training partners would finish a training run, double back to where she was straggling, and walk her in. Hahn had a mentor, Jeanie Wolslagel, who called a couple of times a week for support.

        Sunday, help came from her family, which drove alongside her. After 13 miles, just when Hahn was sure she wouldn't make it, her dad, Bill, got out of the car to walk with her.

        Six miles later, Hahn's sis ter, Jennie, got out to walk. Fox's mother joined them in the 21st mile. Then Hahn's mom, Sally, two miles later. Then brother Adam and his girlfriend, Amy Neal, after another mile.

        “They were all telling me, "You can't stop,' ” Hahn said.

        She wouldn't. She would raise $1,000 in Fox's name.

        Said Hahn: “When it was roughest out there and everything hurt, that's when you think, "It could be chemo(therapy). It could be your life in the balance. This isn't. So just go. Finish.'”

Flying Pig results, photos, stories

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