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Cincinnati, Ohio (May 1, 2005) — The last time Tim Rieger ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, in 2002, he admitted he 'bonked' at mile 22. This time, he made sure he was strong throughout the finish.

The 28-year old Rieger, of Dayton, Ohio, battled Isaac Barnes throughout most of the 26.2 miles before Rieger took the lead in the last mile and a half to win the seventh annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon with a time of 2:30:24.

The former University of Cincinnati runner has run only two marathons, both of which were the Flying Pig. In the 2002 race, he finished fourth when he ran out of energy toward the end. "My goal this year was the top five," Rieger said. "I never thought I had it won, until the end."

Or did he? He admitted that he had a feeling he could win this year's Marathon. "The last two weeks I envisioned myself crossing the finish line first. I kept that to myself because you never know how a race is going to go, but I saw myself winning."

The victory was especially sweet for Rieger, since five years ago he was recovering from a potentially fatal viral heart infection that kept him from running for U.C. for more than six months. "It certainly makes you appreciate every day once you recover from something like that."

The 29-year old Barnes was neck and neck with Rieger from as early as the two and a half mile mark. Barnes finished second in the Flying Pig Marathon in 2002 and 2000, and third in the 2001 race.

"I thought I had it," said Barnes. "This hurt me today. At mile 25, he got me on a hill. It wasn't much of a hill, but he (Rieger) stuck with me like a bulldog. He just had more strength at the end."

In the women's division, 22-year old Alison Bedingfield of Groesbeck, a Cincinnati suburb, broke away from the pack to claim her first marathon win in her first ever marathon, finishing in 3:03:40.

"I thought I had trained enough for this distance," said Bedingfield, who is taking a year off before entering the University of Cincinnati Medical School in the fall. She serves as an assistant track coach at her alma mater, Colerain High School, where she was on the state champion cross country teams in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

"I knew if I stayed on my pace, I'd get there," said Bedingfield, who is a newcomer to the elite regional running scene. "I may have impressed myself right now (with the win), although I was hurting those last 10 miles."

Second in the women's division was 40-year old Lisa Veneziano, the 2003 Flying Pig Marathon women's winner, who took the 2004 race off to have a baby.

"I was sixth most of the way," said Veneziano. "It wasn't until about mile 18 when I started passing the ladies on the course." Her time was 3:07:29.

Third among women was 39-year old Laurie Davis of North Avondale in 3:13:19.

In the Flying Pig Half Marathon presented by National City, 34-year old Jason Newport of Eaton, Ohio, was the men's division leader in a back-and-forth battle with friend and sometimes training partner, 24-year old Eric Hodgson of Oxford, Ohio. The two traded leads after the half marathon turn, until Jason took the lead for good just before the finish line in a time of 1:15:37. Hodgson finished in 1:15:43.

"We were with the marathon runners until we got to Eden Park," said Newport. "once we hit that stretch, the lead marathon runners fell back to save their strength, so it was nice to have an open road."

Third was 22-year old Abrham Almanthe of Cincinnati in a time of 1:17:16.

The women's division winner was 34-year old Tanya Thatcher of Mason, Ohio, in a time of 1:23:02. Second was Jill Tranter of Walton, Kentucky at 1:24:27 and third was Kerry Lee of Cincinnati in 1:26:17.

"I'm not an early morning runner, so when my alarm went off at 4:40 a.m. I wasn't sure about running," said Thatcher. "I felt pretty good, and I knew I had to make my move once we hit the downhill stretch at mile 10. Right after I saw my husband (Geoff) cheering me on just past mile nine, I knew it was time to go."

A record field of 13, 279 participants entered the Marathon weekend events, including the Papa John's 10K, the 5K presented by girls!CAN, and the Kahn's Flying Piglet presented by the Cincinnati Enquirer. That is a 9.5 percent increase from the 2004 record entries of 12,124. Included in that number are 4,351 in the full marathon and 4,235 in the Half Marathon presented by National City.