Sunday, May 4, 2003

Pig runs today



By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

South Dakota resident Micah Grenz went from casual runner to instant celebrity the moment he said "Sure."

Grenz, an athletics department promotions manager at South Dakota State University, made Flying Pig Marathon history Wednesday when he became the 50th entrant from the 50th U.S. state to enter the fifth-annual race.

All 50 representatives were slated to compete in today's 26.2-mile course, from Paul Brown Stadium to Yeatman's Cove, beginning at 6:30 a.m.

When South Dakota State athletic director Fred Oien was searching for a marathoner Tuesday, Grenz found it hard to pass up a race he'd once seen in Runner's World.

Grenz, 27, didn't think it was such a big deal, signing up for a marathon. Then reporters started calling. And calling.

"I wasn't nervous about it - til now," Grenz said, laughing. "I probably won't have my fastest time ever, but I'm pretty prepared to run the whole course."

Most states had representatives long before the Pig's Saturday registration deadline, but Game Day Communications president Betsy Ross said it wasn't easy to attract the two holdouts: North and South Dakota.

Mayor Charlie Luken even issued a challenge to five mayors in the two states.

"The Dakotas have been slow to enter the Pig so we've been pressuring them to send representatives, because this is fast becoming one of the better marathons in the country," said Luken, who planned to run in today's Flying Pig 4-person relay.

He heard back only from Fargo mayor Bruce W. Furness, who politely declined. But Bismarck resident Don Reiner signed up for his inaugural Pig in late March and became the 49th representative.

Grenz, a Brookings, S.D. resident who grew up in Indianapolis, hasn't been to Cincinnati since 1994.

So why was it so difficult to get a South Dakotan to run the Pig?

"We're surrounded by a lot of farming communities and not a lot of farmers are runners," Grenz said. "Plus we just had a marathon (of 40-50 people) in town this weekend."

Flying Pig Marathon

Schedule

Start: Paul Brown Stadium, Mehring Way.

Finish: Yeatman's Cove, Sawyer Point.

Start times: 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.

TV: Ch. 5, 6:30 a.m.

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: Men's, Rudolf Jun (2:28:07); women's, Rebecca Gallaher (2:50:50); wheelchair, Vern Achenbach (1:53:47).

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

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

*Existing course record

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E-mail srussell@enquirer.com




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