Photo by eviltomthai/Flickr
After finishing ninth in the 2008 Olympic marathon, Dathan Ritzenhein was fourth, and first man out, in Saturday's Olympic marathon trials in Houston. It was his seventh career marathon, all seven of which have been mild disappointments: excellent races for an American, but underwhelming given Ritzenhein's talent and performances at shorter distances. (He won a bronze medal at the 2009 world half marathon championships and has bests of 12:56 for 5,000 meters and 27:22 for 10,000 meters; both are internationally competitive times.) Ritzenhein narrowly PR'd on Saturday in 2:09:55, but that time is still more than six minutes slower than Patrick Makau's world marathon record of 2:03:38.
I spoke with Ritzenhein's coach Alberto Salazar earlier this week. Neither seem sure why Ritzenhein continues to under-perform, but they don't plan to expend any more energy finding out. He'll next try to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team at 10,000 meters.