Ritzenhein the next big marathoner

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    BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Dathan Ritzenhein is used to big expectations. He's been an Olympian, a four-time All-American at Colorado, and a U.S. cross country champion.

    So is the 23-year-old Ritzenhein ready to be the next best American marathoner? He smiled and glanced down at his plate of pancakes during a round-table luncheon with reporters Wednesday.

    Ritzenhein, after all, has never run a marathon. He will be making his debut at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5.

    SI.com article

  • #21798



    Two former Buffs could be factors in next month's race

    By Michael Sandrock, For the Camera
    October 12, 2006

    If Dathan Ritzenhein and Alan Culpepper find themselves running together midway through the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 5, the two will not lack for conversation.

    Both are local residents, Olympic runners, University of Colorado graduates and former NCAA champions with similar 10,000-meter personal bests. The two are at different points in their careers, however. Culpepper, 34, is in the second half of a stellar career that has seen him make two Olympic teams and win national titles in cross country and track, as well as the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials marathon.

    Ritzenhein, 23, is at the start of what has the makings of a long international career. At Rockford (Mich.) High School, he became one of the best U.S. high school runners ever, ranked along with Jim Ryun, Steve Prefontaine, Alan Webb and Marty Liquori as one of the all-time great preps. The former CU NCAA cross country champ, who has suffered through three stress fractures, said he has been healthy for more than a year.

    He is making his anticipated marathon debut, and on Wednesday, Ritzenhein said he plans on being right with the leaders in Central Park at the end of the 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of New York.

    “I'm excited,” Ritzenhein said over a plate of pancakes at Turley's restaurant. “It has been a long fall and so time-consuming. I am looking forward to being normal again.”

    “You hear the horror stories,” he said. “I am just trying minimize as many mistakes as I can.”

    To that end, Ritzenhein has been taking ice baths, going to bed early and eating a healthy diet. A bout of pneumonia this spring might have been a “blessing in disguise,” as it forced Ritzenhein to back off his racing, allowing him to head into the summer track season in Europe fresh.

    After several track races, Ritz capped his New York preparation with an outstanding half marathon in England. Ritzenhein declined to give a time or place prediction for New York, but said he's learned that his best races have come when he runs from the front of the pack.


    Listen to an interview with former CU runners Alan Culpepper and Dathan Ritzenhein.
    “It has been a good year, and I feel great,” he said. “I think I can compete all the way to the end. I plan to be pretty aggressive.”

    According to Culpepper, Ritzenhein is “extraordinarily talented” and has all the tools to be a top marathoner.

    “Dathan has the benefit of overall health and athleticism,” Culpepper said. “He is not coming in as a normal 23-year-old.”

    Ritzenhein said he would like to learn some lessons from Culpepper, pointing to Culpepper's many years of nearly injury-free training as a reason he has been a national-class runner for so long.

    “Alan has been the model of consistency,” said Ritzenhein.

    Ritzenhein and Culpepper both came from a CU program that emphasizes mileage and the gradual buildup of an aerobic base. Culpepper is now self-coached, while Ritzenhein is coached by former elite marathoner Brad Hudson, who seems to have read every book on coaching ever written and talked to nearly every coach in the world.

    “I feel we have nothing to lose by trying a marathon right now,” said Hudson, adding that he would prefer a slower early pace for Ritzenhein at New York, to avoid the risk of going out too fast and “hitting the wall” — or running out of energy — in the final miles.

    “So much depends on the weather,” said Hudson. “Hot conditions will make a big difference.”

    According to Mary Wittenberg, head of the New York Road Runners and the ING New York City marathon race director, inclement conditions could actually help Ritzenhein place high.

    “The more adverse the conditions on race day, the better his odds become,” Wittenberg said in a press release. “He is one tough runner, which will suit him well in New York. He is made for the marathon and is going to thrive at this distance. Dathan is fully capable of a big run. In a field of favorites and veterans, Dathan is the rookie dark horse, the unknown who could pull off a surprise.”

    Wittenberg said Culpepper will likely run another of his smart races, adding, “Our Boulder duo could be in the hunt for the medals. It's been decades since we have been able to say that.”

    Like Ritzenhein, Culpepper declined to make any predictions. When he ran his 2:09:41 debut in Chicago, “I just went in and ran as hard as I could,” he explained. “What I like about New York and Boston is you just go and run the race … The tough thing about our sport is that it is not predictable.”

    Contact Mike Sandrock at [email protected]

    Culpepper will face Wells in Denver

    By Michael Sandrock, For the Camera
    October 12, 2006

    Alan Culpepper will be racing another former University of Colorado All-American when he runs the inaugural Denver Half Marathon on Sunday morning.

    Among those in the field will be Clint Wells, a former top CU steeplechaser and 1998 grad who is gearing his training towards the U.S. national cross country championships, set for Boulder next February.

    “It will be harder than a workout, but I don't want to jeopardize New York,” Culpepper said of the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 5. “I needed a longer effort and this fit in well for me to practice my marathon race pace.”

    That pace is roughly 1 hour 5 minutes for the 13.1 miles, or faster than 5 minutes a mile. Culpepper will likely need to run that fast, or even better, with New Zealand Olympian Michael Aish also in the field.

    The races, which begin at 8 a.m. Sunday, start and finish at Civic Center Park.

    Culpepper, who ran the 10,000 meters in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the marathon in the 2004 Athens Games, is, along with Meb Keflezighi, one of America's top marathoners.

    Culpepper said the Denver Half Marathon will be a good test to see how he has recovered from a bout with anemia he suffered from this summer. He knew something was wrong when he went to the Fairview track to do a workout of 10 by 1K, and after eight of them, was forced to lay down on the track.

    Taking liquid iron has helped his recovery, Culpepper said. His anemia, along with his long experience with the marathon, means he will likely run a conservative race, both in Denver and New York.

    Denver organizers expect up to 5,000 entrants between the marathon and half marathon, both new events.

    Julian, Glaab top Americans

    Local runners Peter Julian and former Monarch High standout Josh Glaab were the top Americans at San Jose Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon.

    Julian, head coach at Metro State, clocked 1 hour, 5 minutes, 24 seconds, with Glaab coming in at 1:05:32. Those were personal bests for the two runners, who placed 11th and 12th overall. Longmont's Nuta Olaru was fourth in 1:10:35 in her tune-up for the Oct. 22 Chicago Marathon, while frequent Boulder visitor Takami Ominami of Japan placed seventh in 1:12:44.

    Those results capped a good weekend for locals, as Boulder's Constantina Tomescu-Dita took the silver medal at the IAAF World Road Race Championships in her Chicago tune-up, behind former Boulder trainer Lornah Kiplagat. In addition, Boulder's Peter Hegelbach finished third overall in the open division of the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City. Hegelbach ran 4:27.

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