Finding your dream: The woman behind the Flying Pig Marathon

While the competitors run the course, one woman is running behind the scenes to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 2:59 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Flying Pig Marathon is celebrating its 25th year, and each year, a woman behind the race makes the magic happen.

Iris Simpson Bush has taken on several different roles while organizing the Flying Pig each year, but she is now the president and CEO of Pig Works.

She says that she never imagined this would become her career and she is now living her dream.

Each year, 30,000 to 40,000 people from across the world come together here in Cincinnati with one common goal: cross the finish line of the Flying Pig Marathon.

While the competitors run the course, Simpson Bush is running behind the scenes to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

“Looking back and seeing all the ideas, the passion, the commitment that people were making to this event that could be to see what it’s become; That’s been pretty gratifying,” says Simpson Bush.

It all started in 1997 when Simpson Bush was working in broadcast sales at a local TV station when something caught her eye.

“I saw a newspaper article,” recalls Simpson Bush, “That is when we checked the newspaper for some news as well, and I saw that somebody was trying to bring a marathon to Cincinnati. I had run a few marathons, [I] love running, so personally, I was excited. I knew it would be good for our city, and I thought the station should get involved.”

From there, the Flying Pig Marathon has continued to grow each year with Simpson Bnush first serving as a board member before becoming the president and CEO of Pigs Works, the parent company of all seven of their races held across the city, including the Queen Bee and the Fifty West Mile.

“It’s so exciting the way the city embraces it,” Simpson Bush says.

Simpson Bush said when she began organizing the Flying Pig, she had two main goals: bringing in more revenue and gaining national recognition, which she says was difficult to navigate at first.

“I have to tell you, a few weeks into it, I realized the thousands, the myriad of details, and how much I didn’t know,” explains Simpson Bush. “It was a situation where I had to reach out to some others.”

She quickly found her way, making the Flying Pig the classic it is today.

“I think probably the exciting part is being able to be at the finish line,” Simpson Bush says. “If everything goes well, I get to stand there and, and help to greet people as they’re coming across. People who know you, you don’t know who they are. Sometimes, if you do know them, they look different after they’ve done a marathon. So, that’s an honor to get to congratulate them on their accomplishment. You feel excited because, in a very small way, you helped them achieve whatever their goal was, whatever brought them to that start line.”

Simpson Bush says while she loved her job in sales and never aspired to become a race director, she couldn’t imagine life any other way.

“People talk about following your dreams, you don’t always know what your dream is,” Simpson Bush explains. “But you have to look for the opportunity that feels right. Have the courage to take it. Take chances, and you know, be your true self and give it everything you’ve got.”

The Flying Pig Marathon weekend kicks off Friday with several different events.

The marathon starts on Sunday at 6:30 a.m.

Even if you aren’t running, you can be a part of it to cheer on those taking part.

Breaking Through Series

This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.

FOX19 NOW will be highlighting those who are stepping forward to pave the way for a better future.

If you know a woman making a difference in the community, whether it’s a business, teaching, or volunteering, we want to hear from you.

Send an email to with “Breaking Through” in the subject line.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.