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Extraordinary People Make Pig Memorable

There are as many special personal stories as there are runners at the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Here are just some of the people who make us proud of the Pig:

Steve and Julie Winner of Sydney, Australia: Steve took to running when he decided to kick a 50-cigarette a day habit, and Julie eventually joined him on the road. But why come halfway around the world to run in your 19th marathon (Steve) and 5th marathon (Julie)? "We love the pig," said Steve.

They saw the logo in an ad for the marathon in Runner's World, were intrigued, and had their travel agent book the trip. While they were headed this way, they said, why not run Boston as well? And it was there, waiting for the Boston marathon to start, that they ran into Mary Enzweiler, the volunteer coordinator of the Pig, who happened to spread her blanket out beside them—her Flying Pig Marathon blanket.

The topic, naturally, turned to the Pig, and a friendship was born—a friendship that was renewed two weeks later in Cincinnati.

Finland Folk: More proof of the Power of the Pig comes from Finland-specifically, Lapland, where the father-son running team of Jussi and Sampsa Lauerma live. They made their first-ever visit to the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon this year after seeing it promoted at the New York City Marathon a couple of years ago because, in father Jussi's words, "We saw the name of the race—we thought it was funny. We liked it."

How far north is Lapland, you ask? It's about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle where, as dad is quick to point out, Santa Claus REALLY lives, not the North Pole. So if you're neighbors, do you ever see him while you're out on training runs? "Just around Christmastime," Jussi said.

Oh yes, those training runs. In the cold and dark of a Lapland winter, how do you battle the brutal, below zero weather to get your miles in? "Just put on a few extra clothes," dad laughed.

A Heroic Effort: Dr. Gary Stewart already had a special place in local running, even before he started training for the Pig. Dr. Stewart played a major role in the rehabilitation of Kent Enzweiler, a local world-class runner who was hit by a car during training several months ago and is now in a wheelchair. This past April Dr. Stewart was training for the Pig in a west-side park while his girlfriend, Jade Gilliland, was roller blading, when they heard a scream. While Jade went back to the car to call for help, Gary walked closer to some nearby brush toward the noise, which now sounded more like a hurt dog's whimper.

"The first thing I saw was this huge guy with a sawed off baseball bat, just beating up on something that looked like an animal—all I could see was this black, matted hair. And I thought, why is this guy beating up on this dog?" That's when the beating victim sat up, stared at Gary, and shreiked, "Help me."

Gary yelled at the man, who then tucked the baseball bat in his pants and started walking toward Stewart. When the man put his hands in his pockets, that's when Gary went into action. "He came at me and didn't say a word. I figured he was going after a gun or a knife, so I just jumped him."

While Gary and the man struggled, another bystander called for police and Jade came back from the car with a canister of pepper spray. The struggle continued until Jade emptied the entire canister in the man's face, then Gary and the bystander kept the man subdued until police and EMT's arrived.

"She had a horrible gash on her head," Gary said. " We talked with her and her family a week after it happened. She doesn't remember anything about it, which is probably good. I just hope she'll be able to recover emotionally."

It was an emotional incident for Gary, as well. "This park is the most beautiful place on earth. An attack like that violates me."