Flying Pig Half Marathon Pre-Race Coverage

This coming Sunday is the 13th annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.  Included in the day’s events is also a half marathon, a marathon relay, a 10K, a 5K any many more events.  But the signature reason that I’m providing extensive coverage of this nationally famous race is because it will serve as the arena for a much-anticipated showdown.  Two Chicago competitors have faced each other twice this year, with this half marathon providing the third and final confrontation.  Though the race may or may not empirically determine who is the better athlete, the hype leading up to it will definitely declare who cares about this competition more.
In one corner we have Daniel “Otter” Otto, a lovably sardonic Packers fan from Naperville, Illinois, brought to Chicago after graduating from Michigan State University.  A back injury forced him to abandon one pastime, rugby, for an activity that he publicly dislikes, to the point that he made a blog about it: running.  He’ll have to put that animosity to good use if he wants to win come May 1st. 
His opponent is the lovely and affable Laura “Roala” Melle, hailing from the diverse ethnic neighborhoods of Silver Spring, Maryland.  She has been in Chicago since graduating from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, but will soon depart for Mozambique with the Peace Corps.  She considers herself someone who prefers training to racing, but this Sunday, training time is over.
These formidable runners first raced together in February at the 2011 LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon, where both set out to achieve the coveted sub-2-hour half marathon.  Hills and an ankle injury prevented Otter from reaching this time limit, while Laura smashed the barrier with her current PR, 1:55:00, without the use of a stopwatch.  This singular achievement sparked a nascent rivalry that today has become borderline radioactive.
The two would later have their rematch on the streets of downtown Chicago at the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, where Otter finished just under a minute faster than Laura.  He wasn’t thrilled with his time, though his fans couldn’t fault him as he was impressively hungover.  However, during a post-race interview, Laura explicitly noted how she was “totally not at all tired when I reached the finish line?  Seriously?  I was not even breathing hard?  I basically ran my half marathon pace the whole way?”
With each proudly boasting the laurels of one battle won, the final fight to win the war will take place on the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio.  It’s difficult to say just how this race will pan out, and the run-o-sphere is abuzz with predictions.  We have gathered as many facts as we can in anticipation of this mythical clash and invite you to make your own predictions.

The last year has been a very prolific running year for Otter, one in which he has run many races at varying distances.  However, what’s important to note is his recent half marathon PR at the inaugural Chi-Town Half Marathon (1:52:24).  A few weeks prior to that stellar performance he publicly declared that he was out to finish 28 races before his 28th birthday.  In the process, he has set more than one personal best, which has helped him keep his training strong.  This recent momentum will definitely help him out leading up to the Flying Pig.

However, he is not without faults.  Though he is known to throw the hammer down at the final sprint of a race, it is not entirely uncommon to see him getting “hammer drunk” the night before the event.  If the bars in Cinci cast an appealing lure, he might bite and jeopardize his time, giving Laura the upper hand.

Though not as enthusiastic with races as Otter, Laura has many cards up her sleeve going into this race.  Her 1:55 PR was set on a notoriously hilly course and the Flying Pig is sure to challenge runners with a gradual ascent between miles 5 and 8.  As someone who used to “run uphill really fast?” Laura is no stranger to burning quadriceps.  This will definitely serve her well going up against her competitor, whose half marathon PR, though two minutes faster, was set on a surfboard flat course.

An additional X factor with Ms. Melle is her imminent departure for south Africa.  Knowing that her opportunities for overblown and expensive races will be limited for the near future, she might give that extra 10%, giving her fans an impressive performance.  Assuming her shins don’t complain between now and race day, I think we should expect this train to run express all the way to the finish line.

Looking at the elements, it’s still definitely too early to call this race in favor of either runner.  As we’ve mentioned, the course for the half marathon sends runners on a consistent 3-mile ascent.  Will Otter’s increased training be enough to overcome Laura’s natural climbing abilities?  Additionally, the 10-day forecast is predicting an overnight low of 61 and a race-day high of 79 for Cincinnati.  These conditions aren’t ideal and have the potential for some serious heat if the humidity is high.  We will definitely see both runners paying close attention to hydration, especially Otter, who Perspiration Monthly named their Man of the Year.

Flying Pig Half Marathon Elevation Chart

The experts are equally torn about the anticipated result.  Nicholas Restauri, editor-in-chief of Exercising with 1L’s has his money on Otter, citing that “historically men have dominated in everything competitive.”  However, chief nutritionist for Robert RPAG industries Jayne Kenney is gunning for Laura first and foremost because she’s a girl and secondly because she “trusts her not to go out and wreck her body with booze the night beforehand.” 

It is therefore clear that, despite all public declarations, meticulous analysis and conventional wisdom, we can’t accurately predict who will come out on top.  What is certain is that both competitors are eager to please their fans and will therefore be bringing their A-games to this race.

Stay tuned for updates and next week’s recap of the epic showdown.

About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

3 Responses to Flying Pig Half Marathon Pre-Race Coverage

  1. bearrunner says:

    Seeing your PR’s are only 3 minutes off eachother, if the strategy for the female was to take off at the start, I bet she would win… If you both run together, the male will win…


  2. Pingback: State Twelve: Ohio (Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon) « Dan's Marathon

  3. Pingback: Race #6 — Flying Pig Half-Marathon (Cincinnati, OH 5/1/11)– 01:53:49 | Anti-Running

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