Monday, April 25, 2016

V. 1 #13 Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 1 of 3)

V. 1  #13 Area Marathons that Preceded the Flying Pig (Part 1 of 3)

Many people think that the Flying Pig Marathon is the first ever marathon to take place in the area. This is not the case. There have been a number of other marathons that preceded the Pig.  This is the first of three blogs describing the marathons that came before the Pig.

Roger Bacon Spartan Marathon

Mike Boylan, an English teacher and the head coach of the cross-country and track teams at Roger Bacon High School put on the area’s first marathon on December 8, 1970. Mike was looking for a way to keep his runners active between seasons and having a marathon for his team fit into his plans.

Mike Boylan, founder of the first local marathon

Russ McMahon, a junior in school and a member of the cross-country team, who won that first marathon, commented, "He created a 500 mile and 1000 mile club for his athletes so that they would stay in shape during the off-season. He also decided that we should run a marathon. 

School was closed that day, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, so Coach Boylan said that that day was as good as any to put on the race. He mapped out an eight-mile course, which started on Mitchell Avenue, across the street from the football stadium. About 25 of us ran down Mitchell and turned right on to Spring Grove Avenue, which later merges with Vine Street. We continued up Vine to Seymour Avenue and turned right while heading toward Reading Road. At Reading we made another right and stayed on that road until we got to Clinton Springs Avenue. We again turned right and went a short distance back to Mitchell and on down to where we started. We repeated this route two more times. To finish we ran down to the track in the stadium and ran around the track to complete the final mile."



Two photos of Russ McMahon, winner of the first local marathon

Russ finished first in about 3:07. He is forever the first winner of a marathon contested in Cincinnati. Dave Clark was second. Mike tweaked the course over the final two years that the race was run. Boylan then left high school teaching to go to law school. With a three-year history it was a short-lived race, but the Roger Bacon Spartan Marathon was the first ever marathon race held in Greater Cincinnati.

1972 Spartan Marathon Course

Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon
1968 - Present

Although not technically a Cincinnati area marathon, the Ohio River Road Runners Club (ORRRC), co-founded by Steve Price, first started hosting a marathon in Monroe, Ohio in 1968 and runners from the area participated in it.

Steve Price – director of ORRRC Marathon

It was the closest marathon for Greater Cincinnatians to attend. The course, within view of the Lebanon Correctional Institution, started on Union Road, which heads south from route 63. It was a 6½-mile route over rolling terrain that shuttled out and back on secondary blacktop roads. Here is Terry Gallagher of Lexington, the winner of the 1968 race, receiving assistance.  Note the crops in the background indicating the rural nature of the race.

Terry Gallagher

As a perk to accommodate all the participants, a couple of rooms were rented for the day at a nearby motel in order to serve as a dressing facility.

Wayne Doehlman, Fred Winston, Bob Roncker, Henry Rider, Mike Fremont, and Greg Witte were among the 53 finishers in the fourth addition of the race.  This October 24, 1971 race started at 12:00 noon.  It was Bob’s initiation to marathoning.  Mike, who was in his forties at the time, would later set a world age group marathon record of 6:05:53 when he was 88.

Bob Roncker

Mike Fremont

10 individuals did not finish. The winning time was 2:34:07. The first 14 runners, more than 25% of those who completed the course, finished under three hours. Trophies went to the top 15 with medals to all finishers. The entry fee was two dollars.

The 22nd ORRRC marathon, which took place on March 5, 1989, had a similar number of finishers, 58. However, on that year only five individuals dipped under three hours.


  1. Noticed that Sy May finished 25th in ORRRC marathon.

  2. Noticed that Sy May finished 25th in ORRRC marathon.

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