Flying Pig Marathon means big business for Greater Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - Approximately 33,000 runners are expected to participate in races associated with the 2013 Flying Pig Marathon weekend.

But local businesses are hoping they'll being doing a lot more than running Saturday and Sunday.

Estimates suggest that the race weekend could generate nearly $10 million for hotels, eateries, stores and local businesses in Greater Cincinnati.

Some businesses like Brand Evolution in Northside are banking specifically on the success of the Flying Pig Marathon brand.

"It's great. We absolutely love it," said Trey Walker with Brand Evolution. "We look forward to this weekend and obviously many years to follow."

The firm, which has participated in each of the previous 15 Flying Pig Marathons, is creating specialty race shirts for the event.

"Leading up to this is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun," said Walker, who along with his co-workers was busy cranking out t-shirts Wednesday evening. "Everybody here is completely committed to the event."

The firm handles all participant clothing and merchandise sales for the Flying Pig.

The marathon is Brand Evolution's biggest client and accounts for between 25 to 35 percent of its gross revenue, according to Walker.

Brand Evolution is just one of the businesses that has benefited from the success of the event over the past 15 years. The Flying Pig has been a major contributor to the Greater Cincinnati economy.

Doug Olberding says the impact of the race is about $9.5 million, most of which comes from non-local runners.  

Olberding, who chairs the Department of Sports Studies at Xavier University, said the biggest spending is on hotel rooms for out-of-towners.

Restaurants will also benefit from the marathon. While many restaurants look to make money on their alcohol sales, the Flying Pig weekend is typically an exception to that rule.

"Runners aren't going out on Saturday night before a 26-mile race and drinking heavily," Olberding said. "So, a typical convention, you see a bit more bar spending, but overall it's restaurants and lodging."

The Tri-State could also see indirect economic benefits. Since runners from all 50 states and 16 countries will participate in the race, the Flying Pig will give Cincinnati a chance to shine in front of the world.

"They report that the downtown is clean, it's vibrant, it's exciting, there's a lot to do, the neighborhoods are beautiful. So, there are these non-economic benefits," Olberding said. "They're a little bit more difficult to measure, but they're very, very real."

--9 On Your Side reporter Tom Mckee contributed to this report.

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