Sunday, April 27, 2003

Flying Pig gets new start

Over-the-Rhine joins the route

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Needing more space to accommodate the growing number of runners and support personnel, Flying Pig Marathon officials have moved the start line this year from Seventh Street to Mehring Way behind Paul Brown Stadium.

The race, which begins at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, also will wind through Over-the-Rhine for the first time and will take runners through the new Metro Transportation Tunnel that was part of the renovation of Fort Washington Way.

"What we try to do is go through all the neighborhoods," said race director Rich Williams. "Over-the-Rhine was one of the neighborhoods we haven't gone through."

In addition, the 5-mile companion race has been changed to a 10K event, largely due to the relocation of the starting line.

"The 10K (6.2 miles) is a more popular distance," Williams said.

Flying Pig officials are expecting a record field as they celebrate the event's fifth anniversary on May 4. The marathon and its companion races are expected to attract close to 10,000 runners this year; about 9,400 participated last year.

The rest of the route will remain basically unchanged, with runners chugging through the Eden Park area, O'Bryonville, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout, the East End, the West End, Covington and Newport.

They'll cross the Ohio River over the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, follow Fourth Street from Covington over Veterans Memorial Bridge across the Licking River into Newport, and then cross the Ohio River via the Taylor-Southgate Bridge.

The finish line remains at Yeatman's Cove along the Ohio.

There will be fluid stations at every mile and this year, for the first time, runners also will be treated to entertainment stations at every mile interval.

In conjunction with the race's first foray into Over-the-Rhine, U.S. Bank has underwritten a tent with breakfast and music, part of its "Rise and Swine in Over-the-Rhine" promotion.

"We're anticipating huge increases in crowds," said Iris Bush, executive director of the Flying Pig.

For the first time, beer will be available at the after-race party at Sawyer Point. Bush said race officials discovered many of the runners who had been in training for the race longed for a cold beer at the end of such an arduous journey.

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