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Mottram and Ritzenhein To Face Off at Healthy Kidney 10k
Ritzenhein and Hudson Moving to Boulder
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
Editor's Note: David Monti is an elite athlete coordinator for many New York Road Runner events including the ING NYC Marathon.

NEW YORK (25-Apr-2007) -- Two of the most promising young stars in distance running, Craig Mottram and Dathan Ritzenhein, will face-off at the Healthy Kidney 10-K on Saturday, May 19, event organizers announced here today.  It will be the third edition of this popular road race which raises money for the National Kidney Foundation, Inc., and last year recorded nearly 5,000 finishers.

"Today we announce two of the brightest stars in the sport today," said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, which organizes the event.  Speaking at a press luncheon at the New York Athletic Club she added: "Dathan and Mottram add a special spark."

Mottram, the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist at 5000m, and Ritzenhein, the 2005 U.S. 10 km road running champion, have only faced each other twice in their young careers, and both times the tall Australian has had the upper hand.  At the 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Mottram finished 22nd to Ritzenhein's 62nd, and at the Carlsbad 5000 the same year, Mottram finished second to Ritzenhein's seventh.

"It's been a couple of years," said Ritzenhein of his last competitive meeting with Mottram.  "I was a young pup then."

Indeed, both Mottram, 26, and Ritzenhein, 24, have matured in the past two years.  Mottram has expanded his range to become world class from the 1500m (3:33.97 PB) through the 10,000m (27:50.55), with the 5000m being his strongest event (12:55.76).  Ritzenhein moved up in distance from the 10,000m (27:35.65 PB) to the half-marathon (1:01:25 PB) and then the marathon, making his debut at the ING New York City Marathon last November (2:14:01).  The American, who is in the process of moving from Boulder, Colo., to Eugene, Ore., sees the Healthy Kidney 10-K as a sort of meeting in the middle for the two athletes.

"It's definitely going to be easier in a 10-K hilly road race (to beat Mottram)," said Ritzenhein who's 10-K personal best of 28:11 is only one second off of the Central Park Record set by Paul Koech of Kenya in 1997.  "He's a very mentally tough runner," he said of Mottram.  "He definitely feels he's the best.  He'll be a formidable opponent."

Ritzenhein will have the added burden of training while he and wife Kalin, who is pregnant with their first child, relocate to Oregon.  The former University of Colorado star has lived in Boulder for six years and is moving with his coach, Brad Hudson, because they feel his body will respond better to training at sea level, and because Eugene has more trails with soft wood chip surfaces to help guard against injuries.

"It was a difficult decision because we love Boulder," Ritzenhein explained.  "That's where our friends are.  This was the next logical step for us."

Ritzenhein said that Jason Hartmann, who is also coached by Hudson, would be moving, too, but not Jorge Torres.  Ritzenhein's house has already been sold, and they plan to be in Eugene, the home of the University of Oregon and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, by early May.

"We just got lucky and the house sold in four days," he said.

The race in New York will be his first since suffering a stress reaction in one of his foot bones last March.  To maintain his fitness while the foot healed, he ran 130 miles per week for four weeks on a special treadmill in Alberto Salazar's garage in Portland, Ore.  The treadmill, which Ritzenhein referred to as an "anti-gravity treadmill," uses air pressure to reduce the amount of the athlete's body weight which he must support while running.  He was able to run while bearing only about 65% of his body weight.  He watched re-runs of the television program "The OC" to alleviate the boredom.

As for Mottram, who goes by the nickname "Buster," he's ready to return to New York again after his second place finish in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games last January where he was narrowly defeated by two-time Olympic medalist, Bernard Lagat.

"Once again I'm really looking forward to the Healthy Kidney 10-K, especially knowing Dathan is in the field," said Mottram in a prepared statement.  "I seem to be making a habit of coming in to New York and to try to take on the best American runners.  Dathan will offer a great challenge, so I know I'll have to be in very good form to keep up with him and have a chance of winning again in New York."

In addition to the $20,000 prize money purse on offer with $7,500 going to the winner, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, which sponsors the race, has put up a $20,000 bonus for beating Koech's mark.  Mottram came within three seconds of the record at last year's race despite running on a sore foot.

"The stakes are high with egos on the line," added Wittenberg.  "Buster has owned this race in its history and Dathan is looking to unseat him."

PHOTOS: Craig Mottram competing at the 2006 Healthy Kidney 10-K; Dathan Ritzenhein competing at the 2006 ING New York City Marathon (Photos courtesy of New York Road Runners).

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