Saturday, May 04, 2002

Some aim to finish, others aim to finish fast

Top men hope to challenge Pig's course record

By Michael Perry,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Flying Pig Marathon is a unique sporting event. Fans cheer on all the competitors. Competitors cheer on each other.

        There is limited predictability as to the outcome, and, well, winning is not really the point for the vast majority of its participants. It's about beating personal-best times, overcoming odds, pushing yourself to the limit or simply accomplishing a lofty goal.

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    2001 winners: men's, Rudolf Jun (2:28:07); women's, Rebecca Gallaher (2:50:50); wheelchair, Vern Achenbach (1:53.47)

    2000 winners: men's, Jun (2:23:04); women's, Gallaher (2:49:31*); wheelchair, Franz Nietlispach (1:35:07)

    1999 winners: men's, Elly Rono (2:21:15*); women's, Sommer Settell (2:58:10); wheelchair, Saul Mendoza (1:30:46*)

    * Record-

        Oh yeah, and enjoying the scenery and camaraderie and maybe, for a select few, taking a shot at the $10,000 Waffle House bonus for breaking the course record.

        A record 7,043 participants were registered for the fourth Flying Pig marathon and relays as of Friday, including 4,765 marathoners. The race and two- and four-person relays begin at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The wheelchair event starts at 6:25, and the Papa John's Flying Pig 5-Mile at 6:50.

        The weather is expected to be partly cloudy with a high temperature of 79 and a low of 49.

        The Flying Pig has grown in size and stature since making its debut in 1999. It was named in January one of the top 20 marathons in the country by Runner's World magazine.

        The first Flying Pig drew almost 6,200 people competing in the marathon or relay.

        The popularity of the event and the $10,000 bonus have helped attract a field that represents 49 states — Vermont, where are you? — and nine countries.

        Two-time defending champions Rudolf Jun and Rebecca Gallaher have not registered for the event. Jun, who lives in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., has relatives visiting from the Czech Republic.

        Two of the leading contenders to win the marathon are coming from Peru (projected times by Angel Roberto Saenz Mori and Rolando Mondalgo Vargas threaten the course record of 2:21:15, set by Elly Rono in '99).

        A few other men to watch:

        • Scott Young, 32, lives in Tucson, Ariz., but grew up in Loveland and Kenwood and attended Cincinnati County Day. He played soccer at Guilford College in North Carolina, joined the Air Force and is working on a Ph.D. in cell biology and anatomy.

        He ran the Papa John's Flying Pig 5-mile race last year while his wife, Nancy (formerly Conway), who is from Indian Hill and attended Ursuline, ran the marathon. “She had nothing but the greatest things to say about the race,” Young said.

        Nancy suffered a stress fracture in her foot in January and won't run this year. Scott has run marathons in Boston; Cleveland; San Francisco; Big Sur in Carmel, Calif.; Columbus, and Tucson. He finished second in Tucson in December.

        “I'm hoping that I can maybe run between a 2:25 and 2:28,” he said. “Any faster than that is kind of out of my reach.”

        • Scott Colford, 31, is from Logansport, Ind., about four hours away. He finished fourth last year and third in 2000.

        “The top two guys were about five minutes ahead of me last year,” Colford said. “I like the course. It's always been a fun marathon. I haven't had my best times there, but I've done reasonably well.”

        This is his third marathon of the year; he won in St. Petersburg, Fla., in January.

        • Tim Rieger II, 25, who lives in Kettering, is a former University of Cincinnati cross country and track team member. He is running his first marathon, with the goal of eventually qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Trials.

        “Training's been going well for the past year and a half, and I've been getting some good, solid mileage in,” Rieger said.“I'm very pleased. But there's always that little bit of apprehension when you haven't conquered that distance yet. I'm excited just to see what I can do.”

        Rieger has run with John Sence, T.J. Lentz and Henry Dennis, three of the area's top runners, during the past year.

        On the women's side, Tatyana Pozdnyardva, 47, a native of Russia who lives in Ukraine and trains in Gainesville, Fla., has turned in a projected time that would challenge the women's record, set by Gallaher (2:49:31).


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