The Queen City! My home for 5+ years and a place that will always hold a very special place in heart. I arrived downtown Cincy at 5:40pm and was picked up by my friend Graham. Tillie and I became great friends with Graham and his fiancee Tracy during our time in Cincinnati and Graham and I can talk for hours about sports. The two of them are tying the knot soon and recently bought a house around the corner from ours in Cincinnati. Graham and I grabbed a bite to eat in Hyde Park and then headed to my other alma mater, Xavier University to watch the Musketeers take on the Richmond Spiders.
The game was on ESPN and we were able to drop down a few seats to sit next to Allen and Anne Cole. They are the parents of Andrew Cole, a colleague of mine at Phi Delt. Allen is a long-time employee of Xavier and was kind enough to arrange for our tickets. He provided this awesome homemade flag for the picture. In the background, you can see one the best mascots in the NCAA, Xavier’s Blue Blob.
After the game, Graham dropped me off at my house (a nice convenience to have during the long trip!) where I caught up on some laundry and waited for DeMarkco Butler to arrive. Big thanks to Luke Benfield who is living in our house for the hospitality. His pillow top mattress made for one awesome night of rest. The next morning, DeMarkco and I headed down to Fountain Square to begin our run. Here, I was able to thank Andrew Cole for his donation. Andrew is the proudest Cincinnatian I know, so it was fun to take this pic.
During my first three runs on this trip, I’ve had to bear the rain, snow and wind. Cincinnati gave us a new element – THE COLD. It was 23 degrees when we started our run. It was so cold, that I saw squirrels roasting their….. well, actually I saw DeMarkco use socks for gloves. Despite the wardrobe improvisation, DeMarkco was able to pull it off in style. Have you ever seen a more stylish runner with white sunglasses and socks on hands?
I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me at Fountain Square, as four members of the Racing Turtles came down to support me. A few years ago, Tillie and I joined this team to run in the Bourbon Chase, a 200-mile, overnight relay race through Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail. We had a blast on the run, and it was great to meet new friends in Cincinnati. Thank you Andrea, Carol, Pauly and Mike for supporting me during this trip.
We began our run and our first stop was in front of one of my favorite Cincy murals. You know, one of the coolest things about this trip has come in the form of donations made from people I’ve never met. Hannah White, is one of these people, so I stopped to thank her. I thought the tip of the hat portrayed in this mural was fitting for her gracious donation.
We headed towards Music Hall to see Cincinnati’s newest mural, one of my favorites to date. Isn’t this awesome? It’s a collection of faces including Mr. Red, Elton John, Grover, the Nutcracker, Eric Kunzel (a legendary conductor in Cincinnati and Phi Delt), Mr. Rogers and many others. What a great piece of art! Here, I was able to thank Nathan Thomas, a great friend and fellow Phi Delt who works at Bradley University.
We ran around to the front side of Music Hall where I was able to thank Andrew Cole again. Music Hall is located in Over-the-Rhine, just north of downtown Cincinnati. OTR has been through a rough patch (some of you may remember the Cincinnati riots a decade ago) but is currently going through a wonderful revitalization. It was awesome to see its progress.
From Music Hall, we headed toward the world headquarters of Proctor & Gamble. Proctor & Gamble has obviously had a tremendous presence in Cincinnati and its downtown campus is beautiful. Here, I was able to thank another one of my running buddies for the day, A.J. Arand. A.J. is St. Xavier graduate, a Phi Delt alumnus from the University of Cincinnati, an Iron Phi himself and an employee of P&G. He works with the Bounce brand and will do tremendous things. Thanks A.J. for making the trek with us today. Here, I also sensed that P&G was thanking me for the ridiculous amount of money that I will be spending on Pampers over the next few years. P&G, you’re welcome.
From P&G we headed to the Taft Museum of Art. Former President of the United States, William Howard Taft grew up in Cincinnati. Did you know that President Taft was the first president to throw out an opening pitch at a baseball game, first to own a car, last to own a cow (what a slacker) and was over 330 pounds (we shed a few calories for him during the run)? Here I was able to thank my bud Mario Villa. Mario and I began work at Phi Delt together and forged a great friendship despite his love for the Texas Longhorns.
After the Taft Museum, we ran towards the waterfront and The Banks project. Cincinnati is revitalizing its river banks, an area between Great American Ballpark (Reds) and Paul Brown Stadium (Bengals). It was fun to see its progress and I fully support this awesome new mural. Did you know that the Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team? As a baseball fan, Cincy was a great place to learn about baseball history. Here, I was able to thank my aunt and uncle again, Colleen and Tom Good. I’ll be thanking them again at Babe Ruth’s birthplace in Baltimore, so I thought this was fitting as a runner’s choice.
One of the neatest pieces of The Banks project (in my opinion) is the Christian Moerlein beer garden that opened up last week. Cincinnati has a neat German heritage so beer gardens are obvious things to have. As you can see, it ponies up to Great American Ballpark.
We headed along the river to one of Cincinnati’s flying pigs. Cincinnati was once known as “Porkopolis” and has lovingly taken on the flying pig as the unofficial mascot. The Flying Pig Marathon was my first and talk about great branding, right? Nobody in Cincinnati can now say, “I’ll run a marathon when pigs fly.” Here, I was able to thank my wonderful parents Bill and Lindy Good. I could write a novel about how important my parents have been in my life, but I leave it as thank you mom and dad, I love you.
Near this flying pig statue, we observed this great statue of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a man whose legacy includes the name of this great city. I feel like Lucius could have kicked our butts in a race. Ironically enough, Lucius Quinctius is in the running for the name of our unborn child. I need to run this past Tillie first though.
We climbed the stairs up to Cincinnati’s Purple People Bridge to snap a few pictures. River towns are awesome and bring so much culture with them. We were able to see one of the many barges that pass through Cincinnati daily on the Ohio River.
Here, I was able to thank my main man and running buddy, DeMarkco Butler. DeMarkco is the current Director of Expansion for Phi Delta Theta and is doing a wonderful job. He’s a “little” brother to me of sorts and has become a great friend. DeMarkco loves to use the phrase “Beast mode” during his workouts, so I had to recognize the fact that we were definitely in beast mode for the day. Our 7 mile run was DeMarkco’s longest ever. I think that’s pretty sweet.
In true beast mode fashion, DeMarkco proceeded to display his strength by pretending to throw me in the river. His testosterone level was at an all-time high, so I went with it. Fortunately, nobody was injured.
We completed our run at Fountain Square and DeMarkco and I made the trek to the original location of my favorite Cincinnati delicacy. To be honest, I’m quite obsessed with Skyline Chili, Cincinnati’s famous sweet chili, and had to thank Chris Hill by running and eating a coney at the same time. Chris or “Cobra” to me worked with me on Phi Delta Theta’s educational initiatives and is another fan of the sweet Skyline goodness. You know, I wonder if I could convince P&G to make a Skyline-flavored baby food? What a brilliant idea.
As you can see, Skyline cheese coneys are a part of my favorite food group, the “you probably shouldn’t be eating this, especially if you’re running in eight states in eight days” food group. I savored every bite, DeMarkco gave me a minute to come back down from Cloud 9 and we headed back to the house to shower up.
The Cincinnati leg of my trip ended with a great lunch at the Taste of Belgium with Conrad Thiede. Conrad is one my favorites. A friend to all who live in downtown Cincinnati, a former colleague, a fellow Phi Delt, the Director of Planned Giving & Special Campaigns at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, an Iron Phi and most importantly, a fellow fan of the Biebs (Justin Bieber).
Conrad and I both ordered the Goetta Hash and it was DELICIOUS. Goetta is another food you’ll find often in Cincinnati.
Following lunch, it was off to the Megabus station for a six hour jaunt to Pittsburgh. What a great visit to Cincinnati.