Dathan Ritzenhein en route to national cross country title No. 3 (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
The 35th edition of this IAAF Gold Label Road Race will mark Ritzenhein's first time toeing the line in Chicago and will be a unique opportunity for him to perform in a world-class competition less than 200 miles from his boyhood home in Rockford, Michigan.
"I am extremely excited to return to the Midwest to run the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon," said Ritzenhein. "Growing up just across Lake Michigan, everyone in western Michigan set their sights on fast times at Chicago and hopefully I can do the same. Coming off a healthy year of great training, I plan to carry the momentum from the Olympic Games and the track season to a great race. I feel stronger than ever and I can't wait test myself on the streets of Chicago."
Last Friday, he punched his ticket to his third Olympics with a third place finish in the 10,000m at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene. Previously, he qualified for the 10,000m at the 2004 Athens Games and the Marathon at the 2008 Beijing Games, where he was the top American finisher in ninth place.
The 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be Ritzenhein's first Marathon since placing fourth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January in a personal best 2:09:55, leaving him one spot shy of making the U.S. squad. His return to the track and focus on the Olympic 10,000m will serve him well on Chicago's flat and fast course.
"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon was built for a guy like Dathan," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "It's a track-like course and he runs with great rhythm and speed. What's even more exciting is that he's a hugely successful athlete who grew up just a short drive from Chicago in Michigan. He'll have a lot of supporters lining the course cheering for him on race day, especially with so many of our participants hailing from the Midwest."
After a high school career that included numerous state and national titles, Ritzenhein burst onto the world scene by winning a bronze medal at the 2001 IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships, becoming only the second American to do so. Success continued in college at the University of Colorado, with his victory at the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Currently based in Portland and coached by Alberto Salazar, he had his best year as a professional in 2009, when he placed sixth in the 10,000m at the World Championships in a personal best 27:22.28, set a then-American record of 12:56.27 in the 5000m, and captured the bronze medal at the World Half Marathon Championships in a personal best 1:00:00.
Organisers for the IAAF