Monday, May 07, 2001

Lots of inspiration along the course




The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Heading west on Eastern Avenue, it was quiet enough to hear the banter among the runners in Sunday's Flying Pig banner.

        “Is it mile 13 yet?” one said, hopefully.

        The quiet was broken by the Crossroads Church Choir and Band with its 130 members from Evansville, Ind. The non-denominational church stumbled across the marathon on the Internet and contacted the committee about performing.

        They like to do secular events. But this was their first marathon, and they didn't know what to expect.

        As runners passed, the choir and runners waved at each other. Some church members stood along the curb and gave the runners high-fives.

        “This was just overwhelming,” said the Rev. David Rinehart. “The energy between the runners and the choir and the band was just dynamic. I think this is one of the most powerful experiences we've ever shared.”

        FIANCE'S SUPPORT: This was the first marathon Steve Metz, a Finneytown 8th-grade history teacher, ran without his fiance, Kelly Allred of Hyde Park.

        Mr. Metz, 26, has run four marathons - including the two previous Flying Pigs - with Ms. Allred, 25. But this year, she is in medical school at the University of Cincinnati and unable to carve out time for training.

        Ms. Allred did, however, find time to cut up oranges to hand Mr. Metz during the race and to make a sign - Go Steve and Brad - to cheer him (and his running partner) on.

        He finished 1,742nd with a time of 4:15:32. They plan to wed June 30.

        LENDING A HAND: Runners making the turn at the Flying Pig's 17-mile mark, Central Parkway and Plum Street, saw a man willing to lend a hand: literally.

        “Good job! Go! Good job!,” Ken Pflamz, 26, of Fort Mitchell, yelled repeatedly, his right arm extended to the stream of runners who high-fived him back.

        Last year, he walked the Pig race.

        Runners went out of their way to high-five Mr. Pflamz, some limply reaching for a hand-swipe, others heartily slapping, quickening their pace as they went.

        “You're so tired at this point, the energy you get, the smiles, it's amazing,” he said of race participants. “It could give you those last couple of miles. Speaking for myself, I couldn't have finished last year.”

        INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE: Bucky Ignatius, a 56-year-old East End resident, stood on Delta Avenue near Columbia Parkway, wearing a sign around his neck: “You Are An Inspiration. Thanks.”

        Two years ago, he watched his ophthalmologist, Dr. Arden Wander, run the race. Mr. Ignatius was so inspired that he went home, made the sign and high-tailed it back to the course before the race ended.

        “These people work very hard to do this,” Mr. Ignatius said. “When you work at something that hard and achieve it, everyone in the world profits from that kind of energy. It's a great event. Very good for the city. There's a lot more camaraderie than competition. That's how sports events ought to be.”

        Just then, he spotted Dr. Wander, who ran again this year. “Artie, how are you?” he said, giving him a high-five. “Knock 'em dead.”

        Reported by Cindy Kranz, Tom O'Neill and Annie-Laurie Blair.

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