Ritzenhein takes sixth in World 10,000-meter race

ROCKFORD STAR—Dathan Ritzenhein in the 2004 Olympic Trials. The Rockford native just placed sixth in the world in a World Championships race and looks forward to his next shot at the Olympics. It will be his third time as an Olympic athlete.

ROCKFORD STAR—Dathan Ritzenhein in the 2004 Olympic Trials. The Rockford native just placed sixth in the world in a World Championships race and looks forward to his next shot at the Olympics. It will be his third time as an Olympic athlete.

by BETH ALTENA

Former Rockford runner and two-time Olympic athlete Dathan Ritzenhein placed sixth in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, in the 10,000-meter race on Monday, August 17.

It is an amazing accomplishment: the fourth-fastest time ever run by an American in the event, the second-fastest ever by a native-born American.

Ritzenhein said after the race he was very happy, and this event is somewhat of a milestone.

“It was tough, but I felt very good and was able to hang in there and run very well. I feel like it was sort of a breakthrough race for me,” he stated.

“What got me so excited is that I closed the gap and made the thought of winning medals at the Olympics and World Championships seem a real possibility. The advance I made over this summer has been dramatic and I am so excited about just being competitive again. I recall in Osaka in ‘07, I was ninth, but I got lapped and was way out of contention. This time I was able to stay in contact, and really hung in there. The race was difficult because we started at a modest pace, but the middle was incredibly fast. I think I averaged 64-second laps for a couple miles.”

Ritzenhein began running at age ten, his father Jerry Ritzenhein said. “He wasn’t very fast at first. He had to work hard and keep working hard. Pretty soon he came into his own.”

Ritzenhein married his high school sweetheart and another Rockford running star, Kalin Toedebusch. They now have a daughter, Addison and reside in Oregon.

Ritzenhein’s father said distance runners peak in their mid-thirties, so Dathan has plenty of career ahead of him. He is hopeful his son will compete again as an Olympic athlete. “This is his life career. He has a long career ahead of him and has an Olympics or two in his future. That’s his hope.”

He also said part of Dathan’s success was the great start he had in Rockford athletics. “He had a great time here in Rockford.”

“The life of a professional distance runner is not always easy,” Ritzenhein commented. “There is a lot of hard work and pressure to perform, it can be monotonous, and there are many setbacks and disappointments. I think I have experienced them all; but the rewards make it all worthwhile.”

Some of Ritzenhein’s achievements in speed throughout his life include the following:

1500m-3:42.99 (2002)

3000m-7:39.03 (2007)

2 mile-8:11.74 (2007)

5000m-13:16.06 (2007)

10,000m-27:35.65 (2006)

Half-Marathon-non-aided: 1:01:35 (2009) aided: 1:01:26 (2006)

Marathon-2:10:00 (2009)

Some of Ritzenhein’s career highlights include:

2009: Runner-up at USA Outdoors in the 10,000m (27:58.59)

Eleventh place at the London Marathon (2:10:00)

2008: Ninth place in the marathon at the Olympic Games (2:11:59)

Third place in the 10,000m at the USA Outdoor Championships (28:31.88)

USA XC Champion

2007: Qualified for Olympics as runner-up in the marathon at the Olympic trials (2:11:06)

Third place at the US XC Championships

Ninth place in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships (28:28.59)

2006: Third place in 5000m at the US Outdoor Championship (13:16.61)

Second place in 10,000m at the Stanford Invitational (27:35.65)

Fourth place at the Edinburgh XC

Eleventh place, debut, at the New York City Marathon (2:14:01)

2005: USA 12K XC champion

Sixty-second place at the IAAF World XC Championships

Winner of the Belfast International XC Race

2004: Qualified for Olympics by placing 22nd (injured) at the Olympic Trials (31:13.91)

University of Colorado (2001-2004)

Collegiate PRs:

1500m-3:42.99

3000m-7:50.39

5000m-13:27.77

10,000-27:38.50

2004: Runner-up in the 5000m at the NCAA Outdoors (13:52.13)

2003: NCAA XC Champion (29:14.01)

Big 12 XC Champion

2002: Fourth place in the 5000m at NCAA Outdoors (14:01.02)

Big 12 5000m champion

Fifth place at US XC Championships

Twenty-fourth place at World XC Championships

2001: Fourth place at NCAA Cross Country

Second place at Big 12 XC

Rockford (Mich.) High School (1998-2001)

Prep PRs:

1600m-4:05.9

3200m-8:41.10

5000m-13:44.70

2001: National Scholastic 2-mile champion

Eleventh in the 5,000m at USA Outdoors

2000: Third place at the IAAF World Junior Championships

Second place at US XC Junior Championships

Foot Locker XC champion

1999: Foot Locker XC champion

Despite all he has accomplished in his running career, Ritzenhein is keeping his perspective on what he considers important in life.

He stated, “But even if running were taken away from me, I would still count myself lucky to have my terrific wife, Kalin, my beautiful daughter, Addison, and the opportunity to travel the world as a family.”

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