When is Ritz going to have the race that sets him apart? To say the Dathan Ritzenhein hasn’t had a breakthrough is hardly fair. The Foot Locker, NCAA, and multiple time USA XC champion, not to mention former American record holder, three time Olympian, and World Half Marathon Championships Bronze medalist has had his fair share of success in the running world. Despite all of his success, including a 9th place finish in the Beijing Olympic marathon, Ritz hasn’t run a time in the marathon that really sticks out. 2:09:55 is by no means bad, but it’s not anywhere near Hall’s 2:06:17 (I’m not going to count Hall’s wind aided 2:04:58 in Boston).
Ritz’s times in the track world are above and beyond and he’s clearly shown that he knows how to compete in the marathon, but the real issue is that he just doesn’t have a world beater time that really catches the eye. The time is important; maybe too important. Heck, Michaelangelo did some pretty cool artwork before he was 30, but we know him most for his painting on that church ceiling somewhere in Europe, and he didn’t finish that until he was 37. To be honest, it doesn’t even seem much like a question of if, for Ritz, but rather a question of when. So, how about Chicago?
This will be Ritz’s first marathon since the Olympic Trials Marathon earlier this year where he finished a disappointing 4th place, so it could be interesting to see how he bounces back from that disappointment. He seemed to bounce back well at the Olympics with a 13th place finish in the 10k, but the marathon is a different ballgame. Or so I’m told (I haven’t run one).
Chicago is as fast as London with the winner sitting in the mid 2:05 to mid 2:06 range for the past few years. With a half marathon personal best of 60:00 (only 17 seconds off of Hall’s American Record), Ritz shouldn’t be thinking about anything outside of that range, especially if he wants to be considered with the likes of Hall and Meb. It’s no doubt that Ryan Hall is the poster child of American marathoning today, and time is the only thing holding Ritz back from being the same.
Unfortunately for Ritz (and anybody else who hates it) it is a day and age where the ability to compete takes a back seat to time. The number one question for everybody who claims to have run a marathon is “That’s great! What was your time?” Very rarely have I heard “Oh, yeah? What place did you get?” That’s why Ritz needs this time so badly. On paper it’s there, but that doesn’t mean much once the gun goes off. So what do you think? Can he knock some time off and put his name a little higher on that list? I hope so, because let’s be honest: Nobody gives a hoot (not even owls) about the Statue of David; it’s all about that Sistine Chapel.
Goes out with the leaders. Blows up. Runs a 2:11. Ritz is tried and true in the marathon. Why should we expect anything different this time?