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In late August I wrote about the inspiration of Dathan Ritzenhein’s American record in the 5,000 in 12:56.27.

More impressive to me, though, was his third place at the World Half-Marathon champs. Unfortunately, it does not appear to still be available on Universal Sports. There were many times when he could have just faded away. He didn’t. Although Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea opened up a lead late, easily winning his third consecutive HM championship, Ritz held tough, just being outkicked by Kenya’s Benard Kiprop Kipyego, 59:59 to 1:00:00. He said (thanks to TK),

    When Tadesse took off and only myself and one other guy went with him, that was a big step for me. Then again with two or three kilometers to go, when I was really paying for going with Tadesse, I had to force myself to stay with it when Kipyego caught up to me. Even though I was outkicked at the end, I fought all the way and that really is why I feel that this was my best race of the year.

OT Marathon 2007

OT Marathon 2007

We all suffer, and it’s, as I say, inspirational to see others push through and maybe, just maybe, that thought will help me make it through. (Here’s a photo I took of Ritz and Ryan Hall at the 2007 OT Marathon. For both, it was a wonderful moment of pure joy, first and second at the trials.)

[edited to add: The first time I saw Ritz (and Ryan Hall for that matter) was watching the 2003 NCAA X-C Champs. It was very, very cold, and it was also the first time I saw runners in compression shorts. Stanford’s fifth guy was something like 11th, but Ritz outkicked Ryan Hall for the win.]

Finally, on the heel-striking debate, here are photos from that race, page 2, page 3 (from

On Friday, Matt Tegenkamp became the third American to break 13 in the 5000, a week after Ritz became the second (and broke Bob Kennedy’s American Record). Teg’s 12:58.56 puts him third on the US list (after Ritz’s 12:56.27 and Kennedy’s 12:58.21). With Todd Williams, Kennedy was a breathe of life in American distance running in those days, taking the lead with 800 to go in the Atlanta 5000 before finishing sixth.

This race was quite different from Ritz’s, although they both lost to Kenensia Bekele. Ritz ran very evenly and picked off runners throughout. Teg was in the mix, the eighth of eight guys until Kenny B. opened up a gap. Unlike the week before in Zurich, however, Kenny B. came back to the pack, and Teg and seven others were right in it at the bell.

Bekele opened up and won, and Teg held on for seventh. He was happy:

Julie has a nice post, The sub-13:00 love train, on it.

    I was also reminded of an article from Matt Fitzgerald in Running Times late last year, How Records Are Broken, which examined the forces that push records downward and what everyday runners can learn from them. The gist being: While we hobby runners may not break any world, national or age group records, breaking our own personal records in a regular and dramatic fashion is a worthy goal — and an achievable one.

Unfortunately, I won’t be stepping aboard any time soon.


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