Mean Girl Revenge Fueled Flying Pig Marathon Champ

By Betsy Ross, Contributing Writer
Photos by Paula Norton, Mark Bowen

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“You want me to do something..tell me I can’t do it.”
--Maya Angelou

For every participant who crossed the finish line for the 20th anniversary Flying Pig Marathon powered by P&G, there is a story. Some have a story about running for a charity or some have a story about finishing in honor of a friend or family member.

And then, there’s Flying Pig Marathon winner Caitlin Keen, whose story is one of perseverance, of believing in yourself, and in using ‘mean girl’ motivation to pave the way to the finish line.

Let’s turn back the clock some 13 years, when Caitlin was a student at St. Mary’s Grade School in Hyde Park and would see the Flying Pig runners go through her neighborhood. 

“This is the first marathon I watched as a 12-year-old growing up there on the corner, on Erie Avenue,” she told reporters, “and I said, ‘I’m going to win this one day.’ And I remember this one girl, who was not very nice, said, ‘no you won’t.’

“So I think that today when I was on Erie Avenue running, that was the only thing that went through my mind--‘yes you will.’ Even though that was 13 years ago, it was going through my head the whole way. ‘Yes you can, you can do this, it doesn’t matter if anyone else says you can’t.’ I’ve never let that go, I don’t think, in 13 years.”

Caitlin was going to attend McNicholas High before her parents announced that the family was heading to Texas. There, she took up cross country in high school and continued her career in college. She’s now a volunteer assistant track coach at Texas Christian University.

“I’ve never broken the tape in my life, I was an OK high school runner, never won a state championship, and walked on at a Division I school, Southern Methodist University,” she said. “I ended up getting a full ride my senior year, but never was a winner, never was an All American, and today my time was so close to the Olympic trials, it’s unbelievable, I’m so happy, it means everything.”

While her daughter was giving interviews, her mom was finishing the Paycor Half Marathon and Caitlin managed to greet her mom at the finish line. In fact, the whole family was on hand to see Caitlin’s victory.

“My family, my parents have given so much to help support my dreams, my family were the ones who really pulled me through,” she said. “I saw my dad and my sister in Hyde Park and I started crying.”

Caitlin was supposed to fly back to Texas Monday to go back to work, but with her win came the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Reds game. Since she works at a running store, her boss was more than willing to let her stretch out her celebration an extra day—and she used that extra time to visit her former school, St. Mary’s, and tell the students how she made the dreams she had when she was their age, come true—and they can, too. Thanks to the team at CVG Airport, Caitlin was able to change her flight with ease.

“I had to believe in myself more than anything,” she said, ‘and if you have any doubt you’re going do this, then you’ve already lost. You have to believe in yourself more than anyone else. No one can will you to the finish line, you have to will yourself there. I had to believe I could do it.”

And she did, all the while teaching us a lesson in never giving up. To see more of Caitlin’s post-race interview, click on the link, courtesy WLWT-TV.