Monday, May 07, 2001

Jun makes a long drive for long run

Runner defends men's title after trip from Florida

By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rudolf Jun drove into Cincinnati around 5 a.m. Sunday with beard stubble, pulled muscles and little sleep. Naturally, he won his second straight Flying Pig Marathon.

        What works for Jun might not fly for your average marathoner, but Jun is world class. The 29-year-old native of the Czech Republic ran a 2:28:07 and was nearly five minutes shy of last year's winning time.

        Like last year, Jun made a 12-hour drive from his home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and arrived in Cincinnati about 90 minutes before the marathon began Sunday morning. He wrapped an Ace bandage around his tender left-thigh muscles, pinned on his racer ID number (1, of course), and off he went.

        “I usually do it like this,” Jun said of his long drive/long run. “If you arrive the night before, sometimes you actually feel more tired in the morning.”

        Jun said the adrenaline from driving, combined with the mental preparation for a 26.2-mile run, energizes him for the start of the race.

        “This way, I am ready to go as soon as I get here,” he said. “I'll be tired tonight, but that is OK.”

        Jun fell short of a $5,000 bonus for breaking the course record of 2:21:15 set by Kenya's Elly Rono in 1999, but he still claimed $2,000 for winning the race.

        His pulled muscles had something to do with his relatively slow time, as did the heat. It was much warmer than last year's Pig, which began with temperatures in the 40s. Sunday, temperatures were in the 70s by race's end.

        And unlike 2000, when Jun ran away and won by eight minutes, he was challenged this time.

        Mark Lawson, a 32-year-old from Salt Lake City, ran with Jun until the 23-mile mark. That was about when the runners, heading back across the river via the Taylor-Southgate Bridge (from Newport to Cincinnati), hit the home stretch.

        Jun won by a comfortable 2 minutes and 26 seconds, and hit the finish line to cheers, applause, and a laurel wreath placed atop his head.

        “Once we hit the bridge, he pulled away,” Lawson said. “The last couple miles, I really hit the wall.”

        Jun hit his own wall about halfway through the race.

        “Usually I don't feel it until the last four or five miles,” he said. “Since I have been hurt, I haven't been able to do as much training. I haven't run for four weeks, and it hurt.”

        The course was changed to eliminate the far eastern portion (Red Bank Road, Wooster Pike, and Wilmer and Kellogg Avenues) and it was replaced by a stretch of Central Parkway and Spring Grove Avenue.

        “It looked pretty much the same to me,” Jun said. “I was just trying to finish the race, that's all. Before I was injured I was hoping for about a 2:16, but when I got hurt I figured there was no way.”

        Jun, who has lived in the United States for four years, has run a 2:16:32 marathon.

        After Sunday's race, he also was kidded about being an honorary citizen of Cincinnati.

        “I wish,” he said, smiling. “I will take it. This is my third year here, and it's been very good to me.”

Flying Pig results, photos, stories

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