I’ve never really written a race review before, but feel this race deserves one. We’ll start with the recap after the break:
My official time was 2:14:33 (10:17 pace). I wasn’t expecting to PR, not on this course. I knew it was hilly and I psyched myself out too much. I didn’t have a great race in Nashville last weekend, so having such a great race was the reassurance I needed. You can see the elevation below:
Number of Finishers: 10,853
Number of Females: 6,761
Number of Males:4,092
Overall: 4282 Division: 377/952 Sex Pl: 1948/6761
I was really excited that I beat the average HM pace by over 15 minutes! Hill training pays off people!
I absolutely LOVED the course. Yes, it was tough, but it was an extremely fun race. It makes all the difference when you can really enjoy your race. My legs felt great and really strong. I took the first 5 miles easy in anticipation of the hill, and in hindsight I probably could’ve pushed harder, but didn’t want to run out of gas. I honestly feel like I could go run another half right now. No pain or soreness. The race honestly flew by, not much else to say other than I highly recommend this race! I will be back to conquer the full next year!
The Expo: awesome swag! You get a really high quality gym bag (I think it’s different every year-last year it was a messenger bag, year before a one-shoulder backpack) with the Flying Pig logo on it. The race tech tee has a great design, and you also get a neat, high quality poster as well. It was well organized for the most part and had tons of vendors. P&G was the main sponsor and they were giving full-sized free bottles and samples of products. We returned to the expo at the end of the day yesterday and they were SHOVELING extra free products into our race bags trying to get rid of stuff!
The Start: The race has a 6:30am start time, which I LOVED. You won’t be spending ALL day running, and can still fit in other activities if you’re visiting the city. The corrals, referred to as ‘pigpens,’ were really organized and extremely easy to find. They would NOT let you in if your bib had a different corral listed, so it’s important to pick the right one. I found my pacer and stuck with him since I lost my Garmin. I also couldn’t get Pandora to play on my phone, so this was the first race I’ve run completely technology free. I felt naked but awesome at the same time.
Crowd Support: was AWESOME. There was non-stop entertainment along the course. The spectators were great (so many cowbells) and the volunteers were FANTASTIC. There were water stops at every mile (some miles had 2 water stops) and they were on top of it. One thing I noticed was how great of an attitude everyone had. Even the runners.
Course: It’s hilly, but there’s only one major hill. A few minor hills in the first few miles at the bridges, and then at mile 10, the course is downhill the rest of the way. You start at the Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, cross the Ohio river into Kentucky at mile 2, and back in the city at mile 3. You head into the west side of town into a fairly industrial area where many breweries are located. After that, you’ll turn toward the downtown area where there are a few historical buildings. As you leave downtown, you head upward on a ramp then a slight downhill, marking the bottom of ‘the climb.’ This section leads you to mile 10, and encompasses the Elsinore Castle, which moves you to what I thought was the most scenic part of the course, overlooking the Ohio River in Eden Park. The hill ends eventually, cresting at the top of Eden Park, and then you get some a little relief with a flat loop. The hill keeps going, though, but in my opinion it wasn’t terrible. I did a good bit of hill training in Nashville, so it was never too much for me. I heard a few curse words from fellow runners, however, and a few ‘WTF really???’s’ You head into a suburb called Walnut Hills, one of Cincinnati’s oldest suburbs. Looking up, you’ll pass St. Frances DeSales Church (had to look that one up) which has incredibly impressive architecture. Inside is a giant bell, but it can’t be rung because it would shatter the glass of surrounding buildings. You continue uphill for another half mile, and at this point, the half course splits from the full, rewarding the half-ers with a downhill finish. In my opinion, this was the best part of the race because it was nearly effortless (if you’re good at downhill running, that is). I was passing quite a few people on the downhill and saw several people struggling, but if you let your legs do the work, you can really move! It was a great place to make up time spent on the hills. The last quarter mile is UPHILL (a-holes), but then you’re welcomed into the ‘Finish Swine’ where you get your medal.