Dathan Ritzenhein’s 60:56 third-place finish at Sunday’s Rock `n” Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon sets him up well for his marathon in Chicago in three weeks time. After his race he was quoted as saying that his goal in the Windy City was to able to run a 2:06 time. But according to his coach Alberto Salazar, that pronouncement wasn’t at the heart of Dathan’s statement, nor is it how either one of them even approaches the sport.
“They took out the second half of his quote,” Al told me during a phone interview on Tueday. “He said he’d love to run 2:06, but what he wanted to do in Chicago is be competitive.
“He’s been training with Mo (Farah) and Galen (Rupp, the Olympic gold and silver medalist at 10,000-meters. Dathan finished 13th in London). We don’t concentrate on time. Dathan hasn’t run that super time (in the marathon), and until he does he won’t be competitive, but he wants to run with the guys.”
Having followed Dathan’s career since his days as a scrawny high school sensation in Rockford, Michigan where he won back-to-back Foot Locker National Cross Country titles and a bronze medal in world junior competition, I can attest that finishing position – the essence of cross country – rather than finishing time has always been his focus. Though he briefly held the American record at 5000 meters, time trials have never been Ritz’s forte.
Following a stellar career at the University of Colorado, Dathan has so far topped off his pro career with a bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championship in Birmingham, England in 2009 (PR, 60:00). Through it all, however, Ritzenhein has been plagued by injuries, particularly foot problems. But coming into Chicago 2012, Ritz is as healthy as he’s ever been for a marathon.
“We’ve been disappointed with (marathon) results in the past,” admitted Salazar, himself a former three-time New York City and one-time Boston Marathon champion. “But sooner or later, unless he’s just not suited to the marathon, he will run a (super) time. Finally, we’ve come to the conclusion that 110 miles is the max per week he can train. Every time we get greedy he gets injured. But he’s been healthy over the entire last year.” (more…)