I love the Flying Pig. Whenever I think about this race I get a huge smile on my face. First, the name of the race is just plain fun. As an added bonus, it ties into the city’s history. According to the Pig’s website, in the 1800s, Cincinnati was a center of Western commerce. Hogs were a major source of income, so pigs that were brought in by boat or otherwise herded into town were marched through the streets of Cincinnati to the processing plants. So many hogs were marched through the streets that Cincinnati came to be known as “Porkopolis.”
The Pig has an event for just about everyone. In addition to the marathon, there is a half-marathon, a 10K, FOUR different youth events, an event for your dog, and multiple-event challenges. My kids participated in the Flying Pig Kids’ Marathon and had a blast. This is a great way to incorporate your kids into your marathon experience, if they are interested in doing so. I’ll start with the expo, which was amazing. The Flying Pig’s expo was, by far, my family’s favorite expo. There was a sign-making station and so many great vendors (including one that sold little pink seed bead pig keychains, which the girls loved).
Plus, there were more freebies than you could handle. We snagged water bottles, backpacks, food, and tons of Proctor and Gamble samples. I also loved the t-shirt provided to race participants – it is now one of my favorite running t-shirts. It was white in 2017, with a cute pig, heart, and happy face emoji. But the best part is that it fits really well.
If I were to go back, and I hope that I will someday, I would not stay at the hotel that we stayed at. It was a perfectly nice hotel and suited our needs just fine. It was within walking distance of the zoo, which we visited, and the surrounding area was nice. When I was running, however, I noticed that the Holiday Inn in Covington, KY, was literally on the race course very close to the start, just as you cross the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. It is one of the host hotels and according to the Pig’s website, there is a shuttle that will pick runners up from the hotel to bring them to the start (and back again at the end). I would have definitely stayed here, as my family could have seen me run by, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and then just walked to the end. They’ve had that luxury during other marathons and it is well worth it. Of note, you need to book early and mention that you are participating in the marathon to get the group rate. If you don’t end up staying there, there are a bunch of hotels in Kentucky right along the front of the Ohio river and although I don’t know if the shuttle picks up at all of them, they are all pretty close to each other. You could probably walk to the shuttle.
I don’t remember much about the course. The Flying Pig has such a good website, you will find all that you need to know about elevation, etc., there. Things I do remember – there is a mile stretch of motivational signs that came at the perfect time. It might have been somewhere around mile 20 or soon thereafter. These were really good signs – not the “don’t trust a fart after mile 20” variety. I looked forward to each one.
I also remember the aid stations. The people who volunteered at them were amazing. It seemed like there was one every 1.5 miles with the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered on a race course. I remember one station outside a church somewhere around mile 22 or 24, when I was really feeling it. This lovely woman handed me water and with the warmest eyes stared straight into mine, smiled, and said “I believe in you; you can do this.” She just about brought me to tears. I remember her often, during the tough moments of races. This is a heavily sponsored event, resulting in neat twists you won’t find at other races. For instance, Old Spice sponsored an award for the “fastest mile to the finish” for each age group. I had no idea that there was such an award when I ran the race. But I felt amazing coming back into the city and pulled out a 7:21 minute mile, winning the award. That was a really fun surprise. Another really fun surprise was the announcer at the end of the race, who kept yelling out – “Good job guys – you just ran 22.6 miles!” repeatedly in congratulations. Jeez, I hope not!
My family, unfortunately, never saw me on the course. While I was having a lovely time, they were driving around, trying to find a place where they could park and go out to greet me. But everywhere Adam turned, the roads were shut down. He drove for hours and never made it near the course, which was obviously very frustrating. Another reason just to stay at one of the KY hotels! I never carry my phone, but I did for some reason during this race. I remember calling him when I was five miles out from the end, hearing his frustrating story, and telling him to just go to the finish line. That was like bells to his ears!
This was a family trip, and so we packed in some fun as well. No trip to Cincinnati would be complete without some Skyline Chili (they have gluten free options!), which you can get in multiple places in the city. We also went to the zoo, as mentioned, which was quite a nice zoo and I would recommend it if you are taking your family to this race. We took in a Cincinnati Reds game as well, which everyone enjoyed. Finally, I would highly recommend the American Sign Museum. https://www.americansignmuseum.org/ This is a funky, unusual, museum that features sign making and usage throughout American history. They have 100 years of signage, organized by era and style. It’s a relaxed, easy going, atmosphere and you can take in as much, or as little, information as you please. The kids still talk about it because of the visual impression it made.
Bottom line, if you get the chance to run the Pig, do it!
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”