Saturday, May 3, 2003

Familiar faces are missing from Pig

One defending champ is out. And the other?

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Unless Cornelio Velasco enters the Flying Pig Marathon by 7 p.m., a new runner will bring home the bacon in Sunday's fifth annual race.

Race director Rich Williams said Pig officials haven't heard from Velasco, who won the 2002 marathon in 2:31:13. The Oaxaca, Mexico, native was last year's surprise when, after running in an Indianapolis half-marathon Saturday, he decided to enter the next day's Pig.

Velasco - and any last-minute marathoners - can register until the close of today's Bob Roncker's Running Spot Health & Fitness Expo at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

Reigning women's champ Tatyana Pozdnyakova is a confirmed no-show and possibly out of the country, Williams said. The Ukrainian professional runner won a $10,000 bonus last year for setting a new women's course record in 2:34:35.

The Pig is not offering prize money this year. Pozdnyakova earns a living from racing and said last year she wouldn't compete without the cash incentive.

But it isn't just the first-place marathoners who haven't registered. Williams said Isaac Barnes and Scott Young - the men's defending second- and third place winners - hadn't signed up as of Friday afternoon. Nor had Krista Place or Dolores Ware, the women's second- and third place finishers.

Still, record numbers of runners and walkers are expected to compete in the Flying Pig's wheelchair race, marathon, 4- and 2-person relays and 10K.

Some of Cincinnati's biggest running names will be back to defend the City Challenge title in the Ernst & Young four-person relay. Jill Tranter, Henry Dennis and John Sence are three returning legs of the relay, which finished in 2:16:15 - 51 minutes before second-place Columbus.

The final leg, T.J. Lentz, is attending a wedding out of town. Scott LeCates, last year's 5-mile second-place finisher, will run in his place.

"(LeCates) is a very good runner," said Bob Roncker, who initiated the City Challenge and organized last year's team. "The group we have is strong. Someone else is going to have to have a pretty strong group to beat them."

Teams from Lexington, Columbus and Dayton are expected to compete in the City Challenge.

LeCates, a Walnut Hills track and cross country coach, was planning to run the marathon until Roncker called. LeCates finished seventh in the 15K Heart Mini-Marathon on March 30 and fifth in the 2001 Pig marathon.

Sunday marks LeCates' first relay since he ran the 4x800 relay at the 1986 regional track meet as a Vandalia Butler junior.

"I don't have a preference of which leg I run, but I don't want to be the anchor. I'd be too nervous," LeCates said. "I'm no John Sence or Henry Dennis."

The Pig also will have an All-Star four-person relay team, with Lisa Haller (President & CEO, Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau), Eric Kearney (President, Sesh Communications), Katie Blackburn (Executive vice president, Cincinnati Bengals) and John Cranley (Cincinnati councilman).

This year, the Papa John's Flying 10K replaces the 5-mile race, in part because of a start change from Seventh Street to Paul Brown Stadium.

Williams said he saw Michael Dehring, the 5-mile men's champ, at the Friday's expo but didn't know if he was signed up for any race. Dehring won last year's race in a personal-best 24:47.



When Pigs Fly

Flying Pig Schedule

• 9 a.m. - noon: Kahn's Flying Piglet Kids' Fun Run and Festival, Sawyer Point.
• 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Bob Roncker's Running Spot Health & Fitness Expo/Packet Pick-up at Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center, 525 Elm St.
• 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.: Cinergy Foundation Pasta Party ($15 adults, $8 children 3-12, free children under 3), Atrium II, 221 E. 4th St.

• 6:25 a.m.: Wheelchair start.
• 6:30 a.m.: Flying Pig Marathon, Ernst & Young 4-Person Relay and Outback Steakhouse 2-Person Relay.
• 6:50 a.m.: Papa John's Flying Pig 10K.
• 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Victory Party at Yeatman's Cove.
Flying Pig map (PDF; 210k)
Papa Johns Race map (PDF; 190k)

Flying Pig History

2002 winners: men's, Cornelio Velasco (2:31:13), women's, Tatyana Pozdnyakova (2:34:35)*; wheelchair, Chad Johnson (1:53:15)

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).

*Course record

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