V. 1 #15 Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 3 of 3)
Here is the final installment of local marathons that took place before the inaugural 1999 Flying Pig Marathon.
Phidippides Last Chance Marathon(s)
In 1980 Phidippides, (named after the early Greek marathoner), a national chain of about 60 franchised specialty-running stores existed.
Jeff Galloway was one of the owners of the chain and Bob Roncker was a part owner, with two other individuals, of the Cincinnati franchise. The original store was located at the corner of Madison and Edwards in Hyde Park next to the current Hitching Post. A second store was in Cherry Grove on Beechmont Avenue.
Galloway's idea was to have all the stores offer a Last Chance Marathon for the Boston Marathon on March 1, 1980. This was the last weekend that the Boston Athletic Association, BAA, which owns the marathon, was allowing people to qualify for that year’s event. Due to unusual circumstances, two marathons were staged on back-to-back weekends in early March 1980 at Mt. Airy Forest.
Bob Roncker established a fully certified course in Mount Airy Forest. It started and ended near the Oval on the left fork off of Colerain Avenue. One full route of the loop, including the side branches, was about 3½ miles. It was to be repeated over seven plus times.
On the afternoon before, when the finish line chutes and mile markers were being set up, the weather looked beautiful. However, a freak storm, which none of the weather analyst forecast, appeared that evening. Not only did it affect Cincinnati, but this storm also caught the entire Eastern Seaboard by surprise. Locally it dumped over a foot of snow and the temperature plummeted to around 15°.
Roncker awoke at 5:00 a.m. to pick up an out of town runner who was arriving at the bus depot downtown. While driving down, Roncker saw what the road conditions were like. He was concerned that anyone trying to arrive at the course might have an accident. He called the local media stations around 6:00 a.m. and asked them to make announcements that the race he had been postponed or canceled.
But, you know how runners are. If hell and high water can't stop them, a foot of snow surely won't. And it didn't. Well, he got a phone call about 9:00 a.m. from a group that came down from Michigan and they wanted to run a race. They were already at the park, braving the elements, and ready to go. Roncker said that he would come over and set them off.
Upon arriving at Mt. Airy, Roncker set out the mile and other markers to help guide the runners. Since a foot of virgin snow covered everything, you could not tell where pavement or earth was underneath. Ten individuals started, nearly all of whom finished. As a result of this race, Roncker claims a record in race directing annuls.
Single-handedly he directed and administered a fully certified marathon race. He served as the starter, gave out fluids (until the water froze), recorded all the finishers, and passed out awards. We won’t say that conditions were arctic-like, but during the course of the event, two separate dog sled teams passed by.
Permission was granted by the Boston Athletic Association to extend the qualifying period one more week. The next weekend the sun was out, the snow was gone, the temperature was up, and another race, with about 150 runners, was held over the exact same course. Some even had their shirts off. Unfortunately records of this event have disappeared.
Lee Hildebrandt during the second Phidippides Marathon
A runner in Mt. Airy Forest
Blue Ash Marathon
In 1986, under the guidance of Kriste Dick (Lindenmeyer) and the Clifton Track Club, the Blue Ash Marathon along with its half marathon component began. This event continued for eight years in total.
Kriste Dick (left) with Suzanne Crable
Steve Fader and Tim Kling placed first and second the initial two years of the event. Steve had almost identical times both years – 2:36:07 in 1986 and 2:36:42 in 1987.
Tim had times of 2:38:27 and 2:40:35.
Dianne Rappaport was the female winner of the inaugural event. The timer stopped at 3:15:36 for her.
The half always outdrew the full marathon. Each year around 350 individuals entered the half while there were never more than 70 who started the 26.2 mile distance.
After eight years, why does a marathon stop? The final year for this particular event was 1993. Marvin Thompson, the Blue Ash City Manager at the time, stated that they did not want to close the city’s recreation facilities for a good part of the day. Since traffic logistics also became a problem, the decision to terminate the event was made. That was the last local marathon until the Flying Pig started soaring in 1999.
Blue Ash Route
1990 Blue Ash Results