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Ritzenhein Running NYC US Half Marathon
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
July 10, 2008

In his final tune-up race before the Olympic Games Marathon, Dathan Ritzenhein will take to the streets of New York for the third annual NYC Half-Marathon presented by NIKE on Sunday, July 27, race organizers New York Road Runners announced today.

Ritzenhein, the reigning U.S. cross country champion, is coming off of an eighth place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m in Eugene, Ore., last Friday where he ran 28:05.31.  He used that race as part of his marathon training, and will use the half-marathon in New York to further confirm his fitness for Beijing.  He qualified for the Olympics by finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in New York City last November.

"Dathan elevates every race he runs in," said Mary Wittenberg, the president and CEO of New York Road Runners in a media release.  "As we continue to build the stature of the NYC Half-Marathon Presented by NIKE, its a coup to add Dathan to what we expect to be a robust professional field.  In an Olympic year with a race that has an international field, it will be fun for New Yorkers to cheer for the red, white, and blue."

Ritzenhein, who has a half-marathon personal best of 1:01:25, will lead a strong group of Americans who will vie with international athletes for their share of the $70,000 prize money purse.  James Carney (1:02:21 PB), the reigning U.S. half-marathon champion who finished two places ahead of Ritzenhein in the track Trials 10,000m, will also take part in the race.  Fasil Bizuneh (1:02:20), 15th in that race, is also entered.

"I am excited to return to the Big Apple for the New York City Half-Marathon presented by NIKE," Ritzenhein said.  "Each NYRR event I have contested, whether cross county, road, or the marathon, has provided fantastic competition and thrilling races. The Half should serve as an excellent final test, in terms of both the elite field and weather conditions, before the Olympic Games marathon in Beijing.

On the women's side, Zoila Gomez (1:13:11) and Colleen De Recuk (1:08:38) are the leading U.S. entries.  Gomez, who competed in the 2007 IAAF World Championships marathon, was fourth in the recent Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston last April.  De Reuck, a four-time Olympian who is still running well at age 44, was the #2 masters finisher at last Friday's Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Ga., clocking 33:57.

The 2007 NYC Half-Marathon presented by NIKE boasted 9920 finishers, led by a course record 59:24 run by Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie.  The race has quickly established itself as the world's premiere summer half-marathon, featuring an exciting point-to-point course from Central Park, through Times Square, to Battery Park in lower Manhattan.  More than 19,000 runners applied to run this year's race.


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