Dathan Ritzenhein: on Running the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the RBR Interview, by Larry Eder

Dathan Ritzenhein announced last week that he would be running the Bank of America Chicago marathon in the Fall of 2013, just like he did in 2012. His personal best of 2:07.47 gave him the proof that yes, he, Dathan could run a good marathon. He will also be running the Shamrock Shuffle, on April 7, 2013, also produced by the Bank of America Chicago marathon. 

After a year that included just missing the US marathon team, where he finished fourth, then, making US team at 10,000 meters, and then, a fine marathon in Chicago, Dathan Ritzenhein took some time off at the end of the year and is just rounding into shape. His second place at the US Club Cross Country Championships, after a battle with Chris Derrick, shows that he is on the right path for 2013. 

Dathan Ritzenhein, 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running his pb of 2:07.47,  
photo by PhotoRun.net

Dathan Ritzenhein is from the American heartland. Dathan Ritzenhein is devoted father and husband, and one of the best runners in the world. Ritz has juggled marriage, a family, and the ups and downs of being an elite athlete for over a decade (actually nearly 15 years since he came on the elite prep stage). I continue to enjoy our conversations and interviews. Dathan is a student of the sport. 

Dathan wants one more good season on the track, and yes, a pb in the 10,000 meters. His dream is to break 27 minutes, so that he could spend full time focused on the marathon. With his pb of 12:56.29, then an American record, and his half marathon pb of 60 minutes, Dathan Ritzenhein has breadth that others envy. Dathan has been coached by Alberto Salazar since 2009. 

We caught up with Dathan Ritzenhein as he was doing a media day in Chicago on Monday, February 18, 2013, as part of a pre marathon gathering and an event for two of his sponsors, Nike and Gatorade. 

Tomorrow, February 19, 2013, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon opens their registration at 12 p.m. Central Time.

We wish Dathan Ritzenhein the best of luck on October 13, 2013, as he and 40,000 of his closest friends in sport, run the streets of the Windy City, all hoping to put a great ending on what author John Parker (Once a Runner) called so eloquently: the Miles of Trials and Trials of Miles...

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Philly Half, Dathan prepping for 2012 B of A Chicago, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, # 1.Tell your me about your plans to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2013? 

Dathan Ritzenhein: I am so excited to get that word out there. The anticipation was tough, I am no longer feeling  like being a secret agent. It is nice to announce it and get it out early.

The marathon was great to me last year. Finally, at the Chicago Marathon, I had something good in the marathon. I found the winning formula at Chicago.


Dathan Ritzenhein & Wesley Korir, photo by Karen Locke

RBR, #2 What did you learn from your experience in Chicago in 2012?

Dathan Ritzenhein: Before, in marathons, I would get so wrapped up (on the training). Now, I see it differently. I don't need these specific workouts. Sometimes it is not going to happen. It is just another race.  I would read between the lines. I had nine weeks of training after London for Chicago last year that were great. 


London 2012, Dathan in the 10,000 meters, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, # 3: And you had great training from London to Bank of America Chicago?

Dathan Ritzenhein: I was healthy for a year! Before that, I had been piecing things together. I had been, in the past, hoping to get the workouts in. The time between London and Chicago was short, but nine weeks, coming at the end of a healthy year! I did not take risks. It kind of helped me. 


Dathan Ritzenhein, 2013 USA Club Cross Country Champs, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, #4: You just ran the 2013 USA Club Cross Country? How did you come off that?

Dathan Ritzenhein: It was okay. I was kind of disappointed. I had wanted to run really well. I took a long break after Chicago, and built up real slowly. I know I was in pretty rocking shape. But, I was disappointed, as Cross Country is my forte. Those guys were ready to go! You just have to knock off the rust again. (Editors note: Dathan was second, he was not farther back as this might suggest).


2012 U.S.A. Marathon Trials, photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, # 5: What do you have coming up?

Dathan Ritzenhein: Same track season as  last year. I will use the same path. I want to have a last real shot to having a track season, I am 30 now. Speed comes a littler harder (now). This is my last real shot to go for it on the track. I want to make the 10,000 meters at the Worlds in Moscow. The Worlds are then nine weeks from Chicago, like last year. And just like last year, if I do the same training, it will be good.


Mary Cain, New Balance Games, 2013, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, #6: What are you thoughts on Mary Cain?

Dathan Ritzenhein: When Alberto (Salazar) first started working with her, he went to visit her and she ran super fast that summer. He came back, and I remember having dinner with him before Chicago last year. "This girl is a phenom," Alberto told me. "She is the best talent since Mary Slaney" Alberto added. I am looking forward to see where she goes in the future. 


Dathan Ritzenhein, the thrill of victory, 

2007 Healthy Kidney, NYC, 

photo by PhotoRun.net


The agony of fourth place, 2012 U.S.A. Marathon Trials, 

photo by 


RBR, # 7: What would you tell an athlete such as Mary Cain about a long career?

Dathan Ritzenhein:  She is going to have to make some difficult decisions. Is she going to college? Will she move to Oregon (and go professional)? She will have to make decisions that most athletes will not have to even consider. She has to learn to enjoy the ride. The pressure can boil over. She has another 15-20 years, if she puts everything together, she will have so much success. With the success she has already have, she will have some down times. She has to learn how to get through the down times, she will have to learn how to really enjoy ride. 

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Making his third Olympic team, Dathan Ritzenhein, 10,000 meters, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, # 8: Did you feel pressured by the media when you were starting out? 

Dathan Ritzenhein: I did not feel much pressure from the media. Pressure from outside was never my biggest enemy. My biggest enemy was my own body. I would be coming back, and the media attention would kind of help me validate the results. Sometimes it helped me, especially when I was not able to race.


Ritz, Rupp and Farah, 2012 London Olympics, 

photo by PhotoRun.net


RBR, # 9: When you broke thirteen minutes, and set a new AR for 5,000 meters, were you surprised? 

Dathan Ritzenhein: I thought I would do it long time before then. If I had been healthy, I thought that I would had done that years before. I had almost given up on that goal. When it came, I remembered that was what Bob Kennedy had done. I had started to shift away. I thought, Maybe, it just was not in the cards. So when I moved down, it did not really shock, me, I had known that I was really fit.  So when I caught the fire, it just kind of happened. (Editor's note: Dathan ran 12:56.29 for the AR. Bob Kennedy had held the 5,000m AR since 1996).


Rupp, Farah, Ritz, 

2012 USATF Oxy Performance meet, 

May 2012, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, #10: Do you think you still can run a personal best at 10,000 meters?

Dathan Ritzenhein: I really think I can break 27 minutes. Sub-thirteen minutes for the 5,000 meters probably not anymore. If I can break 27 minutes for the 10,000 meters, then, I can look at the marathon on a full-time scope.


Evan Jager, 2011 Payton Jordan, 

photo by PhotoRun.net

RBR, #11: What did you think of MIllrose?

Dathan Ritzenhein: I did not watch the streamed video on Saturday, but did watch the races on Sunday! I was impressed. Evan went for it, following Bernard in the two mile. Bernard is just amazing. I am also impressed with Evan Jager. He is just so talented. And he stayed with Bernard for a very long time.


The moment of truth, Mo, Galen go 1-2, London 2012, 

photo of PhotoRun.net

RBR, #12: Americans did very well in London. You were there when Americans were battling back to be competitive on the global stage over the past decade. Now, with Mo, Galen, you, and guys like Evan Jager, Centro and Leo.  I believe that Europeans could do the same thing, if they have to refocus on their training and their goals. What do you think?  

Dathan Ritzenhein: It is a hard thing for Europeans. They have just about given up on cross country. They have not had much success in recent years. East Africans have been dominating in the events that the Europeans had dominated for decades before.


Manzano in second, Centro in fourth, London 2012, 

photo by Photorun.net

I think that the reasons Americans are doing well is that the training has truly increased. We have these training groups. You can not sit on your laurels. There are many good Americans to go on runs with everyday. Making the A standard does not get you anything! Making the A standard will not get you sponsored! You have to bring some marketability. You have to hit special times. Like anything, money makes the world go round. 

Money being injected into the sport helps. We get such big financial support. When we have someone like Mo Farah coming into our group, it elevates everyone's game. Look, Galen could not kick a year or so ago. Now, you should see the workouts that Mo and Galen do! It is amazing! 

So much of it is mental too. Mo and Galen are good for all in our training group. We have upped our game. We support each other. The Europeans have to look at their training and their focus, and learn from us. 


Mo Farah completes the double, 5,000 meters, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon race registration begins on February 19, 2013. For more information on the Chicago Marathon, please check http://www.chicagomarathon.com

Dathan Ritzenhein is a stylish writer. His blog can be found at http://dathanritzenhein.competitor.com/.

Special thanks to the Bank of America Chicago marathon for their generosity with Dathan and of course, for Dathan's honesty in his interviews. Special thanks to Lily Hornstad of TeamWorks Media and Dathan's sponsors Nike and Gatorade. 

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