The new Big Man in American distance running hopes to hold his recent record-setting form into October.
Dathan Ritzenhein is on a roll. The 26-year-old distance ace placed sixth in the World Track & Field Championships 10,000 meters on August 17 in Berlin. His 27:22.28 clocking in that race was the fourth fastest time ever recorded by an American. Less than two weeks later, Ritz broke the American record for 5000m, running 12:56.27 in Zurich.
American running fans are still celebrating this breakthrough, but already many are asking, “What will he do next?” Some have called for Ritz to take a crack at the American record for 10,000m (Meb Keflezighi’s 27:13.98), but there are no world-class 10,000m races to be run at this time of year, and in any event, Ritzenhein does not want to push his luck. “As far as running a fast 10,000, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon,” he said in a USA Track & Field teleconference Tuesday. Instead, he will take some time to recover and then head back out on the roads.
“Next up for me is the World Half-Marathon Championships [October 11, 2009 in Birmingham, England],” he said. “The thought behind that is coming off from this season we still feel that I’m the best fitted over the longer distances. Ultimately that means the marathon and that’s really what I love to do, although I’ve gotta say that I really have enjoyed track this summer. Alberto [Salazar, Ritz's coach] wanted to avoid, though, getting into the actual full-on, big training of the marathon because we really wanted to take this next year, year and a half, to get efficient again and get fast and work on my form and technique. To do that we needed not to do a fall marathon, which was a hard decision, but at the same time we didn’t want to go for so long without doing the long, hard effort close to that.”
He continued, “There was originally a thought of doing a half-marathon, but he said after the 10K that ‘you’re one of the best runners in the world and you need to race the best runners in the world.’ The World Half-Marathon Championship field is going to be so deep and so strong that it’s going to be something where we can really mix it up, and that will give me the confidence the next time I step on the line in the marathon.”
No matter who else shows up in Birmingham, Dathan Ritzenhein will have one of the best 5000m times in the field. That will surely give him great confidence, and give us, his fans, great hope.
Check out Dathan’s blog: http://dathanritzenehein.competitor.com