Simpson Bush's Marathon day is not like the rest of us. She lines up at the start line. "To this day at the start line, my knees shake and a say a prayer for their safe return," she revealed.
She then heads to the finish line to greet every participant. "The most emotional moments happen right there at the finish line," Simpson Bush said. "The last person to cross the finish line brings tears to my eyes."
Simpson Bush would participate in the Flying Pig relay on marathon day in the early years, but the veteran of multiple marathons admits one day she would like to experience the event "like everybody else."
She actually runs the Pig a week before. She covers the full 26.2 course with a couple of friends. "I always have a lot of people to run with," Simpson Bush said. "Several local running groups divide themselves up into relays and they run with me."
Her family operates as the support team following them around as a mobile aid station with water, bananas or anything else she might need.
While running without the famous support along the route, she is well aware of the type of marathon she has helped create. "From the beginning we felt if you want to do a marathon and you want to do all of that training," she said from her office. "We want do all we can to get you from the start to the finish."
Simpson Bush has finished three official marathons and countless week-before Flying Pigs. She has participated in 32 Thanksgiving Day Races, "I never miss that," she said with a smile. It is her love of the city and the event she has helped mold that keeps her going.
Chair Awarded to Simpson Bush by Road Race Management
Her work with the Flying Pig is nationally recognized. In November, Road Race Management honored her as the National Race Director of the Year. It is an award handed out for more than 30 years and Simpson Bush is the fifth woman to win it.
"I was shocked. It's a big deal to me," said Simpson Bush, recalling the honor. "This award goes to the staff support, board support and all of the committed people that really help to make this a special event."
While Simpson Bush has been honored for what the Flying Pig has grown into over 20 years, he is also looking into what the brand might become. The staff and board of the marathon are looking into ways to grow.
"We ask, how do you stay relevant?" Simpson Bush said. "How do we give the participants, the sponsors and the community at large what it wants from its hometown marathon?"
Simpson Bush during recording of Unprompted Podcast with Riva & Nero
Simpson Bush would not reveal whats ahead in the next 20 years of the Flying Pig, but did admit to looking in endurance events involving multi-sport and trail running.
"We are not ready to announce anything," Simpson Bush said. "We are looking at other markets and the events they are doing. We might see some different events here through the year."
In a way, the Pig and Simpson Bush have grown together; into a running story of 20 years about the love of running and our community.