I know what you're thinking, "Flying Pig wasn't on your race calendar?!" Yep, you're right. It was a late addition. A crazy idea that once planted in my mind, I couldn't get out. So off I went to Cincy for the weekend to get in some miles and learn the real meaning of racing in the rain.
Flying Pig Half was on Sunday May 2 (Sorry for the epically slow race report), right in the heart of the mid-west crazy rain storms/flash flooding (yes, mother nature still has it out for me). After hearing such wonderful things about the race, the fans, and the support, I was determined to not let a few sprinkles (or inches of rain) ruin the weekend. Upon my arrival in Cincy, the first thing I noticed is the overwhelming commitment to the theme. Everything is Pig and the whole city is behind it! The newscast is all Pig related stories. Everywhere you turn there is a sign supporting the Pig or wishing runners luck, and the support continued through out the weekend. Everyone, from fans, race volunteers, and even runners, is dressed in their best pig related fashions (ears, tails, tutus, whatever). A-plus for spirit at this one.
Unfortunately, When pigs fly, EB does not. I had a pretty bad flare up of ITBS early in the race, so I mainly tried to enjoy the course, the fans, and survive to the finish because I had a much faster friend stuck waiting in the rain for me to hobble across the line. The flash-flooding during the race didn't help things, but definitely made for an unique experience. At the time the gun fired, rain was coming down at about an inch an hour and there was stong lightening in the area. Soaked doesnt even begin to describe how I felt starting this race. Before I even made it to the starting area, I had stepped in several deep puddles on accident and my clothes were already soaked through. It was just that bad and there was nothing you could do about it. The good news is that when my feet are that wet, they don't bleed, so I guess that was a bonus. Check out the race website for some great pics of the rain! The race photogs didn't even take pics in the early miles, but once the rain started to calm down they caught a few shots.
Pre-race enjoying the sprinkles, er, monsoon.
Expo: Its a Big one. Even with well over 15,000 participants this race still offers a lot for each runner. The expo was a bit crowded, but really, when are they not? You could still move around and see/get everything that you needed. In addition this year, the Pig was a Runner's world challenge race (they have some fun videos and pics) and I literally ran into Bart Yasso at the expo (he has rocking calves). The race shwagg was impressive (dri-fit Shirt, Duffle bag, and official race poster) especially since the race was not anymore expensive than usual ($60 if you register early).
Race: The course isn't easy, which kind of surprised me given how many first timers and run/walkers were there. The course is challenging, but not impossible. The early miles include several bridges and quick visit to Kentucky, but thats basically the warm-up for the middle section. From miles 6-9.5 you climb steadily uphill. The good news is that this is where the heart of the fans are. Even in the flood conditions, there were tons of people along course cheering, ringing cowbells and proudly waving posters (covered in clear trashbags to survive the elements). I can only imagine how amazing they are in good weather! Once you conquer the hills, you are quickly shot back down them in under 2 miles, which is tons of fun for speed reasons, but murder if you have ITBS. From there its flat into the finish. My one complaint about the race was the lack of official corrals at the start. It was simply the honor system, which with a race this big, never works out well. I found it hard to find the pace signs at the start, but this may have been due to the insane weather at the start and the fact I had my head down looking for puddles. I didnt hang around much post race to check out the party because of the weather, but I've heard its a good one.
Overall: I really enjoyed the race! I know that sounds crazy considering the weather and my inability to walk up stairs for 4 days afterward, but its really well done. The commitment of the volunteers, the fans, and the whole city is excellent! I hope to do it again and see everything the Pig has to offer in good weather.