Location: Cincinnati, OH
Results – 2:51:03, 18th overall out of 3362
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1. Hometown Marathon: The Pig is a classic in Cincinnati and it has a great sentiment for me just running the streets around this city.
2. Crowd: The energy never really dies during this race. Cheers from the crowd are heard along the entirety of the course with gaps meaning there is only 1 or 2 people clapping for you. Also, the aid station volunteers are just awesome and all have fun Pig themes: HOGwarts, Piglatin, HAMmer Time.
3. Big Race, Small Town Feel: the field isn’t fantastic at the Pig because there is no prize money for the winners. I mean, when I say “not fantastic” I mean there are no Kenyans and guys like me who run a 2:50 are able to run alone throughout the entire race. This is HUGE for me because nothing frustrates me more than having to run in a crowd of people, hence why I take to the trails!
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I just don’t love road races.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
I mean, the Pig theme is ridiculous. There is always at least one or two live “flying pigs” that are brought out to the course and given wings. As above, the aid station themes are classic with everyone dressing up to suite there theme. I love it when people get super into it!
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
You can’t beat running free at a 6:20 pace while getting cheers from big crowds. This being my hometown, both my parents followed me around the course and I saw them 5 times. This was great because even though there were water stations every other mile, I preferred to drink from my bottle and had my dad literally tossing me water bottles during the race! My dad video tapped the first time my mom through me a gel and I caught it, she was so excited haha.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
The weather is the biggest crap shoot here. The beginning of May has been excruciatingly hot – mid 80s, even 90s – to damn near frigid in the 20s. This year we were at a perfect 45 and I can’t complain at all, but just know if you sign up, you could have anything on race day. I’ve done this in snow as well as dripping sweat.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
My water bottle probably isn't necessary on the road races…I just don’t want to depend on other people mixing my gatorade and then dealing with the pinch and sip technique with those paper cups.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
There is literally one hill that takes any effort at mile 6 and after doing a bit of rolling, the final 12 miles are all pretty much downhill. I planned to negative split this race and was spot on with my timing. If you conquer Gilbert, you can maintain your pace all the way home, just like a good little piggy. Wee, wee wee!
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
The route takes you on the highlights through most of downtown Cincinnati and out as far as Mariemont. Eden park is beautiful and going through Mt. Adams always gives gorgeous views of the Ohio river and surrounding Kentucky greenery. I love Cincinnati and believe it has a pretty stellar skyline.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
It has a reputation of being hilly and tough. Going from the trails to this road race makes those descriptions pretty laughable, but I do think there are difficult parts including the climb up Gilbert into Eden Park. Also, your last turn is at mile 21, following 5 miles along the river into downtown for the finish so you can see where you need to go as soon as you make that last turn. It does seem far away at that point…luckily every step brings your closer.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
They do a great job managing the crowd of 9,000+ people between the full and half marathons. The corral system is just the greatest invention, so I am not passing walkers in the first mile. The aid stations are great with fun themes and loads of eager volunteers. They even had Larosa’s pizza at the finish this year, which I was a big fan up. My buddy Matt threw up crossing the finish line…he didn’t enjoy the pizza quite like I did.
Competition – is there a strong field?
As stated above, there are good quality runners, but nothing too amazing. I believe the course record is around 2:32. No Kenyans breaking 2 hours here! However, this also is appealing to me because I don’t want to be jostling for the inside curve while trying to manage a sub-6:30 min/mi. I think the competition here is Goldilocks.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Nah, typical road marathon. Sign up early for discounted entry.
Water and gatorade at every mile it felt like, might have been every other mile. Gu stations throughout as well as some random tents with Twizlers, Oranges, Beer…etc.
Weather and typical race conditions –
As above, this race can be too hot, too cold or just right, welcome to spring in the Midwest.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Probably don’t need anything other than your favorite, weather-appropriate hat. Maybe your preferred gels, but honestly, you can show up in a t-shirt and shorts and just munch what you find along the way.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
Great for spectators and they put road closures on Waze this year so you could route yourself to different locations on the course and the app knew how to avoid the closed roads. Pretty great!
Top 3 overall (male/female), Age group awards, Fastest half marathon, Fastest last mile
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
5 stars, the Pig rules all