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Saint Ursula Academy Water Station Recharges Runners with Hydration and Motivation

Flying Pig Christmas

Cincinnati, Ohio, May 31, 2022 The Saint Ursula Academy Cross Country (XC) and Track and Field Teams spend a lot of time together throughout the year, mapping out runs and recording statistics that lead them to success in OHSAA high school competitions.  In this way, they are similar to other XC and Track/Field teams around the city.  There is another competition that sets them apart from other high schools in the area, however.  The coveted “Best Fluid Station in the Flying Pig” is the title that many distance runners around the area would agree belongs to the runners at Saint Ursula Academy.
Saint Ursula Academy is located on a critical stretch of the Flying Pig Full Marathon and the Flying Pig Half Marathon, right after the runners have climbed the hill from downtown and through Eden Park. After an incredibly difficult stretch of the run, seasoned Pig runners know what will greet them after the turn onto McMillan Street in East Walnut Hills—a very large group of students, dressed in costume, playing fun music, passing out water, and cheering at the tops of their lungs for the runners to “keep going” and “finish strong.”  After each race, the school receives several email messages, social media shout-outs, and phone calls thanking the students for their energy, motivation, and encouragement.  
One of the top 2022 women finishers, Sarah Clark ’14 said, “Knowing the SUA track team was at the top of Victory Parkway was the perfect motivation to push me up the hill. Hearing them cheer me and the other runners on was electrifying. It gave me the chills.”
The winner of the half marathon, Caitlyn Keen from Texas thanked the SUA students publicly on her social media channels, while wearing a Saint Ursula Track and Field t-shirt the runners had given to her.  
Sarah McGrath Bergmann ‘13, an SUA Track and Field coach, helped the girls get organized before running the race with Sarah Clark ‘14, Emma Foster ‘19, and Anna Orzali ’17 this year.  “We see our girls putting their whole heart into races and it inspires us to want to be our best too! We have a motto that we try to live by on our team - PMA, which stands for positive mental attitude. I believe the girls definitely spread PMA to all the participants of the flying pig this year!”
The XC and Track and Field teams know that their support provides encouragement to so many runners, those who are veteran marathon runners and those who are struggling to get through their first marathon or half-marathon.  Each student has been in a competitive setting where they just needed a word of motivation to take the next step, and they are determined to provide those words of encouragement to others.  
And while the goal is to support other runners, the experience for the SUA runners is one they will always remember.  
“This was second time volunteering at the Flying Pig with my team and it is by far my favorite memory of our track and field season. This race was especially fun for me because I look up to Caitlin Keen so much as a runner and as a person. It was awesome not only to see her run but also hear how much our team spirit on the course motivated her in the race. At one point I even yelled out, “We love you Caitlin!” and she responded to us which was so cool,” said Anna Mickol ’23.
Natalie Huber ’23 plans to keep the tradition alive at future Flying Pig events.   “Volunteering at the Flying Pig water station was super valuable as I got to cheer on other runners with my best friends on the track and field team. Our station was located at mile 8 after a strenuous hill that we run during practice, so we know how much the support is needed at this point in the race. Getting to celebrate all of the runners that passed our station really seemed to make an impact as the runners would stop and thank us for volunteering so early in the morning. This is something I definitely want to continue every year as it engraves team bonding and support into our team and community,” she said.
The SUA students who cheer at the fluid station of the Flying Pig are living the mission of Saint Ursula Academy.  Their positive spirit, support, and encouragement as they “build a better world” does not go unnoticed by all of the runners on the course who are working to achieve personal goals, with the support of a very positive, encouraging group of Saint Ursula Academy students.
PHOTO CAPTION:  Students from Saint Ursula Academy treat runners of the Flying Pig Marathon to cheers, fluids, and encouragement along a tough stretch of the course.  In this photo from the October 2021 marathon, students created a Christmas Wonderland on McMillan to cheer on the runners! 
Saint Ursula Academy is a Catholic, college-preparatory, secondary school for young women known for academic excellence and rich tradition. Saint Ursula welcomes students from more than 90 grade schools in the Greater Cincinnati area and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School. The campus, located at 1339 E. McMillan Street in East Walnut Hills has been the home of Saint Ursula Academy and Convent since 1910. 92% of the  Class of 2022 earned college scholarship offers totaling more than $23.3-million.