Flying Pig Marathon: 7 things to know

Runners will celebrate the 21st Flying Pig Marathon with a weekend of race events in Cincinnati.

The race has more 40,000 total participants, with an average of 21,000 participants on Sunday and about 20,000 for the Saturday events. It takes more than 8,000 volunteers to make the race run smoothly and approximately 150,000 spectators line the course to inspire the runners.

Here’s seven things you need to know about the Flying Pig Marathon:

1. When do the races start?

On Saturday, the Toyota 10K will start at 8 a.m, followed by the Tri-State Running Company 5K at 10 a.m. Other family events will take place throughout the day, including the Cincinnati Children’s 26th Mile at noon. On Sunday, the Wheelchair Start begins at 6:15 a.m., followed by the Flying Pig Marathon at 6:30 a.m. The Paycor Half Marathon and the City Dash 4-Person Relay also start at 6:30 a.m.

The Michelob Ultra Victory Party starts at 8:30 a.m.

LOCAL WINNER: Oakwood grad to defend winning title this year at Flying Pig Marathon

2. Who won the Flying Pig last year?

Twenty-six-year-old Caitlin Keen, a native of Texas who spent some of her childhood in Cincinnati, will try to repeat her first women's marathon victory. After winning last year's Flying Pig in 2:46.41, Keen qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta with time of 2:42 in the California International Marathon. She was attacked by a dog on a run in March in Texas and needed 21 stitches. She told Runner's World she still plans to run in Cincinnati.

Aaron Viets of Wisconsin won the men’s marathon.

3. Why is it called The Flying Pig Marathon

In the 1800s Cincinnati was called “Porkopolis” because of all the stockyards and the meat packing industry. In fact, they often ran pigs through the downtown streets, according to the Flying Pig website. In the 1980s when the riverfront was being developed, they commissioned a nationally renowned sculptor/artist to design something that was indicative of Cincinnati’s history and we now have Flying Pigs welcoming you to the riverfront. When the founders of the marathon were looking for a name for the event back in 1997, “Flying Pig” brought smiles to everyone’s face so that seemed most appropriate.

4. What is the Flying Pig Marathon course? 

The course is a scenic riverside course along the streets of Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Then it goes through Fairfax and Mariemont to the east. The race course finish line remains open for seven hours.


5. What is the economic impact of the Flying Pig?

A 2015 economic impact study produced by Xavier University showed that runners generated more than $14 million economic impact in Greater Cincinnati. More than $1.3 million is spent for lodging and another $1.2 million is spent at restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

6.  Why is a marathon 26.2 miles? 

Most people think the marathon distance of 26.2 miles represents the distance between the battlefields of Marathon and Athens that Pheidippeades supposedly ran to announce the Greek victory of the Persian army.

“When the Marathon was first introduced in the Olympic Games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896, the race was 40 kilometers – the actual distance between the two cities. However, the distance was changed in 1908 when the Olympics were held in London, England. Race organizers originally set the start in downtown Windsor but subsequently moved it to the lawn of Windsor Castle so the royal family could watch the start from their front porch. The finish line, however, remained the same so the race became 26 miles and 285 yards, the distance from the royal lawn to the finish line in Olympic Stadium,” according to the Flying Pig.


7. How hilly is the Flying Pig Marathon?

Cincinnati is known for its rolling hills throughout the city. For the race, the hills are in the first nine miles, according to the Flying Pig website. The first two are just going over the bridge into Kentucky and the one coming back. After several miles of flat there is a 300- foot climb among miles six and nine to a beautiful park with a panoramic view of the river and downtown Cincinnati. After that it is gently rolling and from mile 19 to the finish it is pretty flat.

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