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Ritz Has Sore IT Band Heading into US Cross
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

SAN DIEGO (13-Feb) -- As one of the top entrants in Saturday's U.S. Cross Country Championships here, Dathan Ritzenhein has to deal with an obstacle besides strong competition from Ryan Hall: a sore iliotibial band.

Ritzenhein, who finished third at last year's Championships, still feels soreness in his leg from running the Event Scotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country on January 12.  That invitational competition utilized the same course which will be used at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 30.  "Ritz" found it challenging.

"It's a very difficult course," Ritzenhein explained on a conference call with reporters today.  "It's very technical and extreme.  I came away a little sore with my IT-band afterwards, so I spent a couple weeks training on the anti-gravity treadmill that we have. I'm still not 100% yet, but I'm feeling that I'm getting used to getting my feet back on the ground and putting an effort out there."

Ritzenhein said he did the race in Scotland, where he finished fifth, on a minimum of training.  He had taken a long break after placing second at the USA Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon last November in New York City.

"I just kind of went over there, not in incredible shape over to Edinburgh in mid-January and probably wasn't ready to run on that difficult of a course," he said.

The course in Edinburgh has a long, steep uphill followed by an even longer downhill with rough terrain.  There's also a ditch which has to be breached.  "There's also some abrupt changes in the surface, so you hit them going really fast and it can jar you pretty good," he said.

Ritzenhein is hoping to return to Edinburgh and run World Cross, an event he qualified for, but skipped, last year when it was held in Mombasa, Kenya.  Like Hall, he's already qualified for the Beijing Olympic Marathon, his main focus for this year.

"Hopefully I'll run World Cross and then take a little bit of a break and kind of recharge before the big training begins for the marathon," he said.

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