Dathan Ritzenhein, a two time Olympian, has to juggle a heart with grand ambitions, and a body that sometimes objects. On January 15, 2012, Dathan came within 8 seconds of making the US Olympic team at the marathon. Ritzenhein finished in the cold corner of hell that is fourth place, as millions of Americans watched later that day, Dathan came all so close.
It was later that day, as Dathan walked with his wife and his two children, that he told RBR, that he put his life in perspective. ” I will try and run on the track for awhile, it has been a long time since I raced on the track. ” noted Dathan in an early February phone call.
On May 18, Dathan, with the kind support of Mo Farah, the gold medalist at the 5,000m, and Galen Rupp, the American record holder at 10,000m , ran the A standard for the 5,000 meters, surpassing that goal by six seconds. Ritzenheins’s 13:14 put a huge smile on the wisened Michiganer’s face. Nine days later, Dathan was on the line in Hengelo, Holland, for a 10,000m race.
Again, Ritz was running on hallowed ground. A bit sore from his 5,000m success, Dathan started out slow and, as is his want when he is running with confidence, started to pick off the runners who had dropped off the epic battle in front of him. The FBK Stadium, named in honor of Fannie Blankers-Koen, the four gold medal winning Dutch athlete from the 1948 games.
In front of Ritz was ten of the top Ethiopian distance runners, fighting for two berths open on the Ethiopian 10,000m team. Besides Tariku Bekele, younger brother of Kenenisa Bekele, was Haile Gebreselassie, who was running his last race on the track. Haile stayed with the final eight for 24 laps, and could not muster a strong kick,relegating himself to seventh, while running 27:20.39. Tariku Bekele had won, running 27:11.70.
In back of this epic battle, Dathan Ritzenhein was running by himself. ” The field did come back as quick as I thought,” noted Ritz the next day. ” I was by myself near the end, and, it was really hot.”
Yet, with a fast 5,000m on his legs, racing flats on his feet, and running by himself for most of the last eleven laps, Dathan Ritzenhein ran 27:50.82.
So, for the next few weeks, as Dathan Ritzenhein prepares for the US Olympic Trials, he will have the quiet confidence of a guy who knows that his body is coming around as he battles to make his third Olympic team.
I would not bet against him.
Leave a Reply