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(12-JUL) -- Three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein of Belmont, Mich., has joined the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance project and will be coached by Keith and Kevin Hanson, Brooks Running announced today. Ritzenhein, 34, had previously endorsed Nike since wrapping up his collegiate career at the University of Colorado in 2004. Ritzenhein's Nike contract expired at the end of 2016.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining forces with The Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project," Ritzenhein said through a statement. "Having known Keith and Kevin for 20 years, there is nobody I trust and respect more to help guide me to new heights in the marathon while I chase my fourth Olympic team."
Ritzenhein is a Michigan native, originally from Rockford, about ten miles north of Grand Rapids. He lived in the Portland, Oregon, area while running for the Nike Oregon Project, but moved back to Michigan three years ago to be closer to family. His wife, Kalin, is also originally from Michigan. The couple have two children.
Equally at home running cross country, the roads or the track, Ritzenhein has enjoyed success on all of those surfaces, but has often struggled with injuries. As a junior athlete, he won the bronze medal at the 2001 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Ostend, Belgium, in horribly muddy conditions. During his collegiate career, he won five Big 12 titles (indoors and outdoors combined), and was the NCAA cross country champion in 2003. In the pro ranks he won the USA cross country title three times (2005, 2008 and 2010) and won the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships. He also made the 2004, 2008 and 2012 USA Olympic teams, the first at last at 10,000m and the second in the marathon. He did not qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Ritzenhein is probably best known as a marathon runner. After a difficult debut at the 2006 New York City Marathon (he ran 2:14:01 and called the final four miles "undescribable" because of the pain) he went on to finish ninth at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon and eventually ran a personal best of 2:07:47 at the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. In his last marathon, last November's TCS New York City Marathon, Ritzenhein dropped out with a foot injury. He also dropped out of the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon.
The Hansons-Brooks program is marathon-focused, so Ritzenhein should fit right in.
"Welcoming Dathan back to Michigan and to our team is an opportunity we couldn't pass up," explained Kevin Hanson through a statement. "We feel that he has more to give in the marathon, and we're ready to get to work and see how far we can go together."