Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Flying Pig Marathon Pivots to Keep Registrants Engaged with Virtual Races, Social Media Content and Socially Distanced Socials


  • 5,500+ participated in a virtual spring race hosted by the Flying Pig Marathon
  • One million social media impressions from March 15-May 4, 2020
  • 18 million media impressions resulting in $1.1. million in earned media coverage
  • 18,000 Facebook engagements for the virtual Porch Pours event on May 3


Flying Pig Marathon Events Moved to October 9-11 amid COVID-19 crisis

On Friday, March 13, organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon moved the date of the 2020 race weekend from May 1-3 to October 9-11 amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Flying Pig Marathon, named the #1 Marathon in America earlier this year, is known for its extraordinary participant experience and worked to maintain this during the pandemic. Options were offered to participants: Run a Spring Virtual Race, postpone to the October date or contribute race registration fees to the Flying Pig Charities.

By May 30, more than 5,500 will have completed their spring virtual race. Registration for the fall Flying Pig races opens on May 11 and nearly 17,000 are signed up for the October race weekend.

To mark what would have been Flying Pig Marathon week, organizers launched a social media and media outreach campaign starting on April 24 running through May 3.

Personalized Virtual High Fives from Iris Simpson Bush and the Pig Mascot

To commemorate those who participated in the spring virtual Flying Pig races, Iris Simpson Bush and the Flying Pig mascot (both of whom greet every finisher at the Swine Line of the Marathon) offered personalized videos with a virtual high five for $22 with all proceeds benefitting UC Health COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund and the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) Chamber Small Business Fund. A donation of $1,000 was made on behalf of the Flying Pig Marathon to these funds.

“The Flying Pig Marathon has an economic impact of more than $14 million each year with direct financial support to our hospitality and retail community,” said Iris Simpson Bush, President & CEO of Pig Works, the parent organization of the Flying Pig Marathon. “We are happy to support our local medical professionals as well as the small businesses in OTR during this time of need.”


The Flying Pig Sidewalk Chalk Community Festival

Thousands of runners and walkers hit the pavement in their communities to run their virtual event. Organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon asked the community to create flying pig inspired sidewalk chalk designs to entertain and delight those participants. Creations were shared on Facebook and the most creative won prizes from sponsors.

Flying Pig Porch Pours in partnership with AGAR, May 3, 12-1 p.m.   

The Flying Pig Marathon hosted a fun-filled hour on May 3 from 12-1 p.m. on Facebook to create a live experience from participant’s porches featuring champagne toasts, running-inspired playlist, cocktail recipes and video tributes to participants and volunteers.


Nearly 1,000 people tuned in live to see video tributes from Marathon leadership, sponsors and media partners and more than 18,000 engaged with the Facebook event.


12 p.m.

Welcome and champagne toast from Iris Simpson Bush, Flying Pig Marathon Executive Director

12:05 p.m.

Playlist intro by Rob Mason from AGAR

12:10 p.m.

Cocktail recipe by AGAR and Home Makers

12:20 p.m.

Champagne toast by Josh Heuser, Chair of the Flying Pig Marathon Board

12:25 p.m.

Congratulations video from WLWT’s Randi Rico

12:30 p.m.

Congrats from Elvis from Eden Park

12:35 p.m.

Top 10 Most Memorable Moments of the Flying Pig video

12:40 p.m.

Congratulations from Barbara Hauser, P&G

12:45 p.m.

Thank you to our Grunts from Iris Simpson Bush

12:50 p.m.

Congratulations from Flying Pig Mascot

12:55 p.m.

Closing toast with John Cappella, Race Director, Flying Pig Marathon


Flying Pig Participants Participated in Porch Pours from All Over

Media Tour

The organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon conduct a media tour each year before race weekend and this year was no different. Iris Simpson Bush, President & CEO of Pig Works, provided media interviews over the week and was on site at the traditional Finish Swine area on May 3 where all four TV stations were live. The media relations activity from March 15 through May 4 resulted in 154 TV stories and an earned media value of $1.1 million dollars with more than 18 million media impressions.


Flying Pig Marathon Top 10 Moments of the last 22 years

From April 24 through May 3, the Top 10 Moments from the Flying Pig were unveiled daily on social media and distributed to Cincinnati media to air as well. During this time, the Flying Pig Marathon social media sites (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) saw an increase in social media activity resulting in 521,000+ total impressions. Overall, the Flying Pig Marathon had 1.1 million media impressions from March 15 through May 4.

The following list was unveiled (one a day) on social and the entire list was unveiled to the media on the final weekend:

The Flying Pig weekend powered by P&G has been moved from its usual first weekend in May to October 9-11 in conjunction with the Queen Bee Half Marathon and Medpace 4 Miler.

While we won’t have formal Flying Pig events on May 1-3, more than 5,000 runners and walkers are completing their virtual Flying Pigs this spring. To commemorate what would have been the 22nd running of the Flying Pig, here’s a countdown of the Top 10 moments leading up to the May 3 Marathon date:


April 24, Moment #10: The Flying Pig Marathon named the best marathon in the country for 2020. Earlier this year the Flying Pig Marathon was voted the #1 marathon in the country by RaceRaves! The Flying Pig also took home awards for Top 10 Best Themed Race in the U.S., Top 10 Best Weekend Experience in the U.S., and the Green Lion Award, an award given to races committed to expanding and maintaining their sustainability efforts.


April 25, Moment #9: Amy Robillard dominates the women’s marathon. In 2011 Amy Robillard started a streak where she won every Flying Pig event she entered. Starting with wins in the half marathon in 2011 and 2012, she moved to the full marathon with wins back to back in 2014 and 2015 before jumping back to the half marathon in 2016. Also in 2016, she represented our area at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Los Angeles.


April 26, Moment #8: Sergio Reyes, back-to-back-to-back (and more) champion. Reyes, of Palmdale, California, first burst upon the Flying Pig scene with a 2009 win in the Marathon that was only :12 off the event record. He returned to win again in 2012, 2013, 2014 and in 2016, becoming the only five-time Flying Pig Marathon champion.


April 27, Moment #7: The 20th anniversary Flying Pig Marathon powered by P&G celebrated a record crowd, 43,127 for total weekend participation, an almost 13% increase from 2017, representing all 50 states and 22 countries. The event was highlighted by wins by Aaron Viets of Cedarburg, Wisconsin and former Cincinnatian Caitlin Keen. Caitlin, a former Hyde Park resident now living in Fort Worth, said growing up, she watched the Flying Pig Marathon on television and when it went past her house, and dreamed about winning it one day. She did, in only her second career marathon and first Pig.


April 28, Moment #6: Fire on mile 22. On May 4, 2008, the Flying Pig was celebrating the last day of its 10th anniversary running with a record crowd when an early morning fire along Mile 22 of the course forced last-minute changes and created a marathon to remember. The fire forced organizers and police to re-route the course so runners would go around the block and around the fire. Quick action by city officials made the change as effortless as possible and resulted in only about a 10 minute delay to the start of the Marathon.


April 29, Moment #5: Amazing turnout after the Boston Marathon bombings. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing happened less than two weeks before the Flying Pig events. Pig organizers didn’t know if the bombing would scare people away from participating. Instead, the opposite happened. Many Flying Pig events reached capacity because of a last-minute rush of registrations. Flying Pig participants donated $50,000 to the One Fund Boston, wrote notes of support at the Expo and purchased #BostonStrong shirts and bracelets, with proceeds going to the bombing victims.


April 30, Moment #4: The amazing comeback of Alison Bedingfield Delgado. The 2005 winner of the Flying Pig Marathon suffered a traumatic head injury from a horrific bicycle accident in 2010 that nearly claimed her life.  After not knowing whether she would live, much less run again, Alison recovered to place third in the 2011 Tri-State Running Company 5K. Later she would place third in the 2015 Flying Pig and win the 2018 Tri-State Running Company 5K.


May 1, Moment #3: Bridesmaid no more: Kerry Lee finally wins. In 2017, after coming in second or third in the Flying Pig Marathon for the previous six years, the seventh time proved to be the charm for Anderson High School cross country coach Kerry Lee, who finally won the women’s division of the 19th annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in a time of 2:53:55. She came in second the previous year as well as in 2015, 2013 and 2011.  She was third in the women’s field in 2012 and 2014.


May 2, Moment #2: Cecil Franke sets the record. Cecil Franke had a distinguished high school and college running career, including the 1986 Indiana High School Athletic Association 3200 meter state title at Jac-Cen-Del and school records at Ball State University. He has run Boston, run the 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials, won at Columbus and won the Flying Pig Marathon in 2006, the second marathon he had ever run in a time of 2:20:25, an event record that still stands.  


May 3, Moment #1: First Flying Pig debuts in 1999. Fresh off starting his Paycor payroll processing company in 1990, Bob Coughlin, himself a runner, had the vision in 1997 to organize the board of what eventually would become the Flying Pig Marathon. In two years of planning, the board developed the Flying Pig Marathon with more than 6,000 participants at the starting line in May of 1999. The event has grown to more than 40,000 weekend from all 50 states and more than two dozen countries, with more than $16 million donated to charity over the last 22 years.