Berlin 09 Diary: Day 3, Bekele Wins, Ritzenhein Makes Quantum Leap: A magnifiscent 10,000 meters!, Note by Larry Eder


10,000 meter races in the past nine world championships, for men, and women, have been races frequented with negative splits, furious finishes and the presence of four or five very tough runners at the bell with a lap to go. This time around there were some similarities, but also some differences in the top eight!


Kenenisa Bekele defended his three World Champ and two Olympic titles with a last lap just a shade under 51 seconds, and a second half in 13:06, running 26:46.31. Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea, pushed the second half, trying, as he does, to break Bekele, and was rewarded with the silver medal and a seasonal best of 26:50:12. Moses Ndiema Masai of Kenya took the bronze in 26:57.39! In the next group, two Americans, Dathan Ritzenhein, in sixth and Galen Rupp in eighth....

The race up front is fascinating, but what the real story is, in my mind, is what is happening in the fourth through eighth positions. Fact: In the top fifteen, there were three Kenyans, three Ethiopians, three Eritreans, one Tanzanian, two Americans, one Mexican, one runner from Qatar and one from Mexico.


Dathan making the quantum leap, photo by

In my mind, the person who made the quantum leap was one Dathan Ritzenhein. Dathan ran a personal best of 27:22.28, finishing sixth. (Note that Galen Rupp ran 27:37.29 for eigth, his seasonal best, having a sore hip, and Tim Nelson ran 28:18.84 for 17th place. )This was the guy who gave up the track for the road the past 18 months and made the Olympic marathon team. " In Beijing, Alberto said that I might want to go back to the track for a year. He said that once I get to 13 for the 5k and 27 for the 10k, I will be able to run the 2:04-06 needed in championship races!"

Dathan stayed behind the early pace, in about thirteenth, as Nicholas Kemboi of Qatat took the field through 2:46.24 for 1,000 meters, 5:34:24 for 2,000 meters, 8:19.55 for 3,000 meters and 11:04.75 for 4,000 meters.

"They really took off about 4,000 meters, " Dathan noted in a post race interview. And right he was, Moses Ndiema Masai of Kenya ran three surges in the next three laps, taking the leaders through 13:40.45 for the 5,000m point.

" I hit the 5k in about 13:50." noted Ritzenhein. Dathan went from eleventh to pass Galen Rupp, then in tenth and start moving through the crowd. " Someone told me later that we hit a two mile section of the race in 8:34!So I am rushing along in 64 seconds and I know I am passing people and I know the race up front is quick. I thought I might be able to catch the second pack (4-6), if I continued to push!"

Now, Zersenya Tadese, of Eritrea starts his long, long run for home. Hitting 6,000 meters in 16:18.75, then 7,000 meters in 18:57.73, and then 8,000 meters in 21:37.80! As Tadesse, Bekele and Masai are separating themselves, Dathan Ritzenhein rushes from eleventh, to tenth, to ninth, to seventh, and continues to push, ignoring the fatigue, knowing he is running fast. " I really did not know where I was, but I thought I might be in seventh or eighth, " noted Dathan later.

Kenenisa Bekele and Zerseney Tadese of Eritrea had been here before. Tadese almost brok Bekele in 2007, and again, in 2008. This time, Bekele took no chances. He looked, as on observer noted, " Like a cat who has caught a mouse, and let's it go, then catches, it, lets it go, then catches it, then lets it go, and grabs it for the coup de grace."

Zersenay Tadese is a brilliant runner. Tadese hit the 9,000 meter mark in 24:13.73, pushing the pace, surging, as he had done for the past eight or nine laps. Bekele was there, sitting right on Tadesse, ready to pounce.

Running the penultimate lap in 60 seconds, Kenenisa Bekele took off, taking his short stride from sixty second pace to 52 second pace, and that gold was his! Zersenay Tadesse held onto the silver and Moses Masai, the brother of 10k gold medalist Linet
Masai, who had won the gold in the women's 10k, took the bronze.

By this time, Dathan Ritzenhein was on his final bend, pushing, pushing, " I was hoping for sixth place, maybe fifth." He recalled. Dathan was rewarded with a big personal best, 27:22.28 ( his best before was 27:37), and the notion that he is back on track.

" I have spent a month training with Alberto. Alberto had me focus on fast stuff, you know, quarters in 56, with long rests, and 600 meters very fast, like 1:27. We would do tempo runs and our long runs would be 20 miles in 5:30 pace. I had spent the last few years on aerobic work, now I am doing the fast, short work that I need!"

When asked about the rest of his season, Dathan noted that he would run the 5k in Zurich, Brussels with a 5k , a 3k in Reiti and perhaps a half marathon in the fall. " And then, I am going to rest" noted the sixth placer.

In the end of this race, one sees that our coaches and athletes are starting to see that one must prepare for the heats, the rounds and the finals. Bekele and his crew prepare for the races. Alberto Salazar, Ritz's coach, promised to help bring up the quality of American distance running, and with Dathan, Galen and Tim, he is. Dathan Ritzenhein has made big changes in a short time!

Ritzenhein and his team mates now know, that doing the right work brings the right results!

12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics
Berlin (GER) - Monday, Aug 17, 2009
10,000 Metres - M Final

17 August 2009 - 20:50
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 402 Kenenisa Bekele ETH 26:46.31 (CR)
2 347 Zersenay Tadese ERI 26:50.12 (SB)
3 735 Moses Ndiema Masai KEN 26:57.39 (SB)
4 415 Imane Merga ETH 27:15.94 (PB)
5 730 Bernard Kiprop Kipyego KEN 27:18.47 (SB)
6 1221 Dathan Ritzenhein USA 27:22.28 (PB)
7 734 Micah Kipkemboi Kogo KEN 27:26.33 (SB)
8 1227 Galen Rupp USA 27:37.99 (SB)
9 346 Kidane Tadasse ERI 27:41.50 (SB)
10 407 Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam ETH 27:44.04 (SB)
11 950 Ahmad Hassan Abdullah QAT 27:45.03 (SB)
12 344 Teklemariam Medhin ERI 27:58.89 (SB)
13 1092 Fabiano Joseph Naasi TAN 28:04.32 (SB)
14 825 Juan Carlos Romero MEX 28:09.78 (SB)
15 358 Carles Castillejo ESP 28:09.89 .
16 1091 Dickson Marwa Mkami TAN 28:18.00 (SB)
17 1211 Tim Nelson USA 28:18.04 .
18 820 Juan Luis Barrios MEX 28:31.40 .
19 611 Surendra Kumar Singh IND 28:35.51 (SB)
20 1013 Anatoliy Rybakov RUS 28:42.28 .
21 1093 Ezekiel Jafari TAN 28:45.34 .
22 1137 Martin Toroitich UGA 28:49.49 (SB)
23 941 Rui Pedro Silva POR 28:51.40 .
24 143 David McNeill AUS 29:18.59 (SB)
25 690 Yuki Iwai JPN 29:24.12 .
. 132 Collis Birmingham AUS DNF .
. 368 Ayad Lamdassem ESP DNF .
. 380 Manuel Ángel Penas ESP DNF .
. 404 Abebe Dinkesa ETH DNF .
. 956 Nicholas Kemboi QAT DNF .
. 618 Martin Fagan IRL DNS .
Intermediate Bib Athlete Nation Mark
1000m 956 Nicholas Kemboi QAT 2:46.24
2000m 956 Nicholas Kemboi QAT 5:34.24
3000m 956 Nicholas Kemboi QAT 8:19.55
4000m 956 Nicholas Kemboi QAT 11:04.75
5000m 735 Moses Ndiema Masai KEN 13:40.45
6000m 347 Zersenay Tadese ERI 16:18.75
7000m 347 Zersenay Tadese ERI 18:57.73
8000m 347 Zersenay Tadese ERI 21:37.80
9000m 347 Zersenay Tadese ERI 24:13.73

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