Monday, May 5, 2003

Not every winner is new


Flying Pig Marathon notebook

Shannon Russell and Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Runners start
Runners take off along Mehring Way.
(Photo by Craig Ruttle)
Photo gallery
The Flying Pig relay bragging rights still belong to Cincinnati. Scott LeCates, Jill Tranter, Henry Dennis and John Sence defended Team Cincinnati's title with a second straight City Challenge 4-person relay victory Sunday morning.

The team, which won in 2:19:36, opened a 30 second lead after the Tranter-Dennis exchange and beat second-place Lexington by 23 minutes.

"Last year, there were a lot of rumors swirling about competition coming in," said second-year anchor Sence.

"But this year we all kind of came in knowing we'd win," said Dennis, the race's third leg. "It's not easy to put together a team that can run (a sub-2:20:00). We'd have heard about them."

Lead-off runner LeCates ran in place of out-of-town T.J. Lentz, who still hadn't met his teammates as the race started.

"We saw (LeCates) on TV this morning which was good, because we didn't know who he was," Dennis said, laughing.

Tranter ran the race's second leg so she could distribute water at Mile 25.

Sence and Dennis said Bob Roncker will keep the gold City Challenge Cup, which is supposed to travel between winning teams' cities.

JOHNSON REPEATS: Chad Johnson had to force himself to compete in the Wheelchair Race after waking up with a sore back.

Two hours later, the 27-year-old from Palmyra, Ind., had won for the second straight year with a time of 2:00.50. It was the fourth time that Johnson has competed in the Pig.

The back pain was the result of arthritis and a bone spur that kept him from training from July through March. He hurt his back at the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in late June and kept racing. He didn't find out he had the bone spur until late January.

But a broken wheel didn't stop him a few years ago, and neither would the pain in his back this year.

"I'm here," Johnson said. "I might as well race. If I can go ahead and do a race with broken wheels, I might as well do it with a little back pain."

10K DEBUT: Chicago native Cameron Stuber, 27, won the first annual Papa John's Flying Pig 10K race in 32:12. Stuber, who runs about 30 races a year, placed third overall in last year's 5-miler.

"I think I'm in a lot better shape this year," Stuber said. "I really wanted to win (the Pig). It was on my list of things to do."

Stuber plans to run the 10K again next year but "not the marathon - yet."

50TH STATE: South Dakota resident Micah Grenz, who entered just four days before the Pig, gave the race a representative from all 50 states.

Grenz, a first-time Pig runner, wasn't hoping for anything spectacular in his whirlwind trip. That was before his toothpaste exploded, leaving him unable to wear his South Dakota State University T-shirt.

And before he remembered that South Dakota State - where he is employed in athletic promotions - recently defeated local favorite NKU 65-50 for the Division II women's national basketball championship.

"I started to get nervous about this race Friday," said Grenz, who finished in 3:30. "But I think I actually ran my second-best time."

FAMILY TIES: Paulette Leeper had just passed the 4-mile mark of the 10K race when she heard her daughter's name and number over the public address system.

Sarah Leeper, a 14-year-old eighth grader who runs track and cross country at Loveland Middle School, had won the women's 10K race.

"When I heard her name and number, I bolted," Paulette said. "I kept it up for about a mile."

Sarah, who completed the course in 39:43, had to wait about 20 minutes for her mother to join her at the finish line. But it was a good day for both of them. Paulette beat her goal of finishing in less than an hour, coming in at 58:40.

It was the third straight year that mother and daughter ran together.

They both competed in the 5K race last year, with Sarah finishing second.

The victory was especially sweet for Sarah, who had to fight extreme fatigue for the last couple of miles.

"A lot of times in races, when I get close to the finish, sometimes I feel like giving up and settling for second place," Sarah said. "It felt really good to know that I hadn't settled for less than my best."

EMOTIONAL MOMENT: Bill Whipp was still fighting to control his emotions after he finished walking his 149th marathon, his 123rd on an artificial right knee. He holds the world record for marathons walked with an artificial knee.

Whipp, a 58-year-old Westwood resident, has walked a marathon in all 50 states. This was his second Flying Pig, which he completed in 5:12.

"Sometimes, I break down and cry like I did today," Whipp said. "Sometimes, it's just kind of internal. It's a gift. I've known the marathon my whole life.

"I knew the names Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers, all those names. Suddenly, my name's up there with them. I'm a marathoner, too. The marathon is magic. When you finish, you win."

Whipp held up the medallion he received for finishing.

"The person who did the marathon today in the shortest time got something that's no different than this. That person is showered and changed now, but he's no more a winner than I am."

By the numbers

0

Prize money, in dollars, awarded to anyone breaking the marathon course record.

$10,000

Money awarded last year to Tatyana Pozdnyakova, who set the women's course record (2:34:35) in 2002.

7,500

Number of cups used at the Flying Pig marathon finish line

10,000

Chiquita bananas consumed by the 9,762 Flying Pig

entrants.

7,500

Hot dogs eaten at the Sawyer Point

Victory Party.

40

Portable toilets at the start and finish lines.

10,000

Water bottles

distributed to race

finishers.

50

States represented in the marathon,

a Pig first.

9

Percent increase from last year's total of 8,996 racers.

440

Increase in racers in the 10K race (1,650), from last year's 5-mile race (1,210).

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E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com, srussell@enquirer.com




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