Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Day -1

I'm in Cincinnati today and it's cloudy and spitting rain. I'm here to learn the answer to one question and one question only: Can pigs fly??

The pre-marathon fitness expo, held downtown at the Duke Energy Center convention center, was filled with flying pigs! So it must be true: Pigs really can fly!

I have always wanted to run in this marathon, just couldn't fit it into my schedule or my plans. It has EVERYTHING going for it: Looped route that finishes where it starts, downtown start with plenty of hotels, all activities right there, within walking distance to each other including the fitness expo, pasta party, start and finish lines, hotels.

There have been so many really cool details and touches to this event, I'm just so impressed!

Check out the volunteer shirts!

Check out the cookies at the pasta party!

The pasta party was great! They had a tent set up in fountain square right downtown and less than a block away from the Hilton where I'm staying.

The volunteers working the event were all wearing really great t-shirts and the band - a local band, all volunteers who donate their performance earnings to charities - was really excellent! They were putting on a great show for us. I sat with a couple from St Marys, FL and a couple of women from Akron OH. The FL couple do a different marathon each year, one that takes them on a vacation trip. They were telling me about doing this year's Disney marathon, doing what they call the "Goofy" event which is a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon the next day. Wow! This is their first time doing the Flying Pig and they were appropriately attired.

What an outstanding fitness expo! The organization and layout of the hall put Houston's to shame. Lots of giveaways, too!

Those of us who registered through the Runners World Challenge had our race packets waiting for us at the Runner's World booth, so no standing in line at the packet pick-up or t-shirt pick-up areas. How cool was that?! At the Runners World booth I got to meet two of the editors - Jennifer and Katie - and saw the legendary Bart Yasso. I'll be attending a reception hosted by Runners World later today at which Bart will be saying a few "words of wisdom" about tomorrow's race.

Who knew there could be so much fun with the Flying Pig theme? Everywhere I looked in the exhibit hall the theme of "pig" was played to the max. The official event merchandise store was outstanding! Lots of quality ASICS brand gear with the Fying Pig logo, and in a wide variety of colors besides the ubiquitous "pig" pink. And accessories?? Oh my! Stuffed pigs, pig kites, pig lightcatchers, pig ponchos, pig hats, pig glasses, pig mugs, pig decals, pig keyrings, pig fridge magnets...

Throughout the exhibit hall the vendors were giving out freebies: premium and full-sized products, not trinkets or small samples. I picked up my race packet on Friday and made the rounds but went back on Saturday morning to make the rounds again...and pick up more stuff. And spend more money.

Along one wall in the exhibit area was a mile-by-mile narrative of the race route, along with large maps of the route, the start, and the finish areas. It was a really great touch!

I drove here from Houston, believing it would be the lesser of the two evil ways of getting here. The other, more evil way would have been to fly. It's gotten so that I really hate flying and if I can get there by car then, by George, that's how I'm getting there. Or by motorcycle, if that's a viable option.

So, with running gear, food, and supplies packed in one duffle bag and my clothes and personal effects packed in a wheeled bag, I hit the road Thursday morning at 6:00 AM, avoiding most of the Houston rush hour traffic and finding good open roads much of the way.

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