Tipp City resident chasing ‘ambitious goal’ of winning Ohio’s six biggest marathons

Jason Salyer wins Flying Pig for first time two weeks after winning Glass City Marathon

Jason Salyer won two marathons in two weeks, taking two big steps toward a career goal he plans to chase into 2024.

Salyer, a 2009 Tippecanoe High School graduate who lives in Tipp City, won the Glass City Marathon in Toledo on April 24 in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Then on Sunday in Cincinnati, he won the Flying Pig Marathon in 2:27:10.

“I‘ve definitely never tried something like this,” Salyer said Monday, “and honestly what I did is arguably very idiotic. Nobody does this. Traditionally speaking, people that consider themselves to be marathon runners, they might do two marathons a year. Maybe they’ll do three. But definitely no more than three. And usually those marathons are spaced out with three or four months between them. but I have kind of a daredevil persona. I have an ambitious goal of winning what I consider to be the six Ohio marathon majors.”

Salyer, 32, has already won half of those: the Air Force Marathon in 2022; the Glass City Marathon in April; and the Flying Pig. He will run the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 15. If he wins that, which he knows will be difficult, he will try to win the Cleveland and Akron marathons in 2024. He will also race in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Feb. 3.

Salyer could not afford to take two weeks off between the Glass City and Flying Pig races. Thanks to Xcel Sports Medicine, one of his two sponsors along with Runners Plus, he had three physical therapy sessions in between the two races. That helped him recover. He did take two weeks off after the first marathon but then ran on 10 straight days leading up to the second.

Salyer had plenty of challenges Sunday, starting with the weather. Rain threatened to delay the start of the race and then did cause many runners to shelter in place after the start. Salyer and the top runners never stopped.

“My shoes were completely soaked within two miles,” he said. “We were trudging through puddles every single mile. My feet were slipping inside of my shoes, even though I tied them as tightly as I could. But everybody’s dealing with the same conditions, and you just have to embrace the weather. The people that are able to embrace it and just go with the flow are probably the people that ended up with better days.”

The thought of stopping never crossed his mind.

“When I’m in a race, I’m locked in,” Salyer said, “and I’m just focused on competing and positioning myself to do as best as I can. I never got to the point where I was worried about my safety.”

Salyer knew two runners from Cincinnati would challenge him for the lead throughout the day: William Cadwell, 25, who finished second in 2:27:28; and Jack Randall, 28, who was third in 2:28:13.

“This was my first time running this race,” Salyer said, “but I knew based on my research and based on what other people said about the course that it’s an extremely hilly course, a very challenging course, especially in the first half of the race. That’s where a majority of the elevation is. So I went out very conservatively, taking my time up the hills and also trying not to go too quickly on the downhills because if you run too quickly on the downhills, it can really trash your quads and and be detrimental for you later in the race.”

Caldwell took the early lead as Salyer and Randall traded spots. After the halfway point of the 26.2-mile race, Caldwell had a one-minute, or 300-meter lead.

“I honestly wasn’t 100% confident I was going to be able to catch him,” Salyer said, “but I told myself I might as well try. We’re already halfway through the race. I told myself a lot of positive phrases: let’s go; you’ve got this; keep chipping away, don’t settle. Eventually, I was able to start closing in on him, just chipping away at his lead. By mile 16, he had maybe a 50-meter lead on me, and he was making a right-hand turn and I saw him look to his right to see how big of a lead he had. That’s a big no-no in running because if you look over your shoulder, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re tired. That gave me some encouragement. I kept chasing him. I finally caught them right around mile 18 or so. Then we ran together for two miles until the start of mile 20.”

Salyer started to pull away that point and built a 100-meter lead of his own. In the final 300 meters, Caldwell closed the gap. A spectator yelled at Salyer, telling him Caldwell was 10 meters behind him.

“I look over my shoulder, and there he is barreling down on me,” Salyer said. “I’m like, ‘Oh boy, I better go now.’ I had to change and shift gears, and it was a sprint finish.”

Salyer shared photos of his race to the finish on Facebook and wrote, “These photos aren’t pretty. My grimacing face clearly shows the pain I’m battling through: the residual fatigue from Toledo; the hills of Cincinnati; the constant downpour of rain; the warm weather; and the fierce competition. All the work and pain I put myself through leading up to and during this race was worth it in the end. I certainly appreciate that people take interest in my running and the support undoubtedly gives me a big boost, but I’m intrinsically motivated to maximize my potential. These past two weeks were validation that my hard work is paying off. I’ve continually tested my perceived limits over these last couple years. I still have more testing to do.”

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