I had 7 miles to run on Saturday morning. It should have been 10 miles, but I knew nowayinhell that I could taste wine Friday night and then have the time for a 10 mile run Saturday. So I negotiated a swap-10 miles at home, on Thursday, and 7 miles on Saturday.
I woke up feeling pretty okay Saturday morning. I managed to score some free coffee at the hotel before venturing out.
We were at the Hyatt Regency, right downtown Cinti, so I knew my run would take me over to the Serpentine Wall, on the river front.
I went to college (University of Cincinnati) in Cinti. The riverfront in Cinti has been remodelled since I went to school there. There used to be a street that literally ended in the river.
The Flying Pig controversy started while I lived there.
These are the infamous "flying pigs". This controversy went on..for months!!
This is taken from the Cinti Enquirer web site:
Mr. Leicester incorporated various aspects of Cincinnati history into his design. Pigs, he knew, played a significant role in the city's industrial development.
Indeed, Donna M. DeBlasio, senior historian for Cincinnati Museum Center, notes that by 1835 Cincinnati was the nation's leading pork-packing center. And by the 1840s, it was the world leader, with a quarter of a million hogs a year being slaughtered and processed here.
To pay homage to Cincinnati's reign as Porkopolis, Mr. Leicester included in his sculpture four 3-foot-high bronze pigs, with wings. They appeared to be blasting out of 30-foot-tall riverboat smokestacks.
Why winged pigs?
Mr. Leicester, speaking by phone from Weymouth, England, where he is visiting family, says winged animals have a tradition in sculpture. That answer, he acknowledges, is rather boring.
A more poetic explanation, he says, is that the swine represent “the angelic spirits of all the pigs that were slaughtered and were building blocks of Cincinnati's prosperity. So they're up there paying one last tribute — singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” — to all their (dead) brethren who flowed into the river.”
The pigs were a small part of the overall sculpture, but critics pounced. The swine were insulting, they said, and would make the city a laughingstock. Angry letters poured into local newspapers.
Then-mayor Charlie Luken told the Enquirer that the city “risks a lot of embarrassment from people who come here from outside the area and see this as a symbol of the city.”
Pig proponents, meanwhile, argued the oinkers were a whimsical representation of the city's past.
Looking back, Mr. Leicester says he was surprised by the “the sheer magnitude, and the sustained magnitude” of the controversy. “What was rather interesting in terms of the subject was that it wasn't about gun control, race, religion or morality. It was about this kind of undefinable thing — people's notion of what represents them.”
As the debate swirled, the news media — including the national press — ate it up. Reporters wrote about the squealing in Cincinnati City Hall and pigs hogging the bicentennial limelight.
At a city council meeting in January 1988, the public was invited to have its say. Three pro-pig councilmen wore snouts. Citizens brought signs that said “Let the Pigs Fly.”
And the pigs did prevail. The sculpture was built. The riverfront park was dedicated in June 1988. The flying pigs are there now, for your viewing pleasure.
I had to add this, because I guess not everyone knew where "The Flying Pig Marathon" came from!
The Flying Pig Marathon
And now there is a marathon that inexorably links the city with winged swine.
Mr. Coughlin says he and a few marketing types got together a couple of years ago to brainstorm names for the race.
“Somebody threw out — and I don't know who to credit, so I'll take the credit — the Flying Pig Marathon. And everybody laughed,” he says.
At first, the suggestion wasn't even included on the list of potential names. “Too stupid,” Mr. Coughlin says.
But then he asked that the group fly with the pigs.
Organizers eventually saw it as a name that would not only promote a fun event, but also tie in nicely with Cincinnati's history. And it had good marketing potential. They imagined someone saying, “Run a marathon? Yeah, right. When pigs fly.”
“We thought, pigs are in, they're friendly, they're lighthearted,” Mr. Coughlin says. “We didn't think too hard about it. It came out of trying not to be too serious.”
In October 1997, organizers officially announced the Flying Pig Marathon. The next day, a woman called Mr. Coughlin “berating me for being so stupid, and how (the name) belittled Cincinnati.
“When I hung up the phone, I thought, "Now I know I want to use this name.' ”
Runner's World magazine has called it “the most creative marathon name we've encountered.”
“The name alone doubled the size of this marathon,” Mr. Coughlin says. Reaction, he notes, has been overwhelmingly positive.
There's those pigs. Except I have always thought of them more as dancing pigs, not flying pigs.
Okay back to the run...I ran through Bicentennial Park, then Friendship Park. I also encountered a HUGE group of runners! Was there a race I missed? (I did check.) No, the runners are running too slow and uniform for a race. Wait, this is a "Training Group"!!! I have heard about these!!
I encountered several more 'training groups' of runners out and about.
I got to the end of Friendship Park, and followed two runners down a sidewalk, then I noticed a one-way street, going up hill. It is called "Kemper Lane". What was cool about this, was the old stones and steps in the weeds and brush. There was once houses here, where these steps ran up to. I bet if it was a week or two later, I would be spotting daffodils sprouting up here too.
I stopped at the top of the lane, and had a nice view of the bridges and river.
I then ran downhill, ran over to Kentucky, to Newport, and got a pretty good pic of the Cinti Skyline.
Got back to the hotel in time to change into dry clothes for breakfast with our friends. 6 miles instead of 7, but it was good to fit those miles in.