I thought of a few things over the weekend that should end the discussion about him and the marathon vs. the shorter distances:
● Ritz is (as far as I can remember, at least) the only current U.S. distance runner (I ignore Lagat for reasons like his EPO “A” positive and hiding his U.S. citizenship in ‘04 that I won't keep repeating) who's won TWO medals in international championships: (1) Bronze at Junior World Cross and (2) Bronze at the World Half-Marathon Championships (in an outstanding 60:00 in the rain). Granted, those races aren't as deep or prominent as Olys, track WCs or Senior World Cross, but they also aren't subject to the three-athlete limit, either.
● Ritz's significant records are at 5,000 (12:56 AR) and 10,000 (27:38 CR). He also has the fastest U.S. 10,000 ever run in a championship race (27:22).
● He’s 3rd on the all-time U.S. 5,000 list, 6th on the all-time U.S. list at 10,000 (from his 27:22 at the WC’s; however, but his 12:56 and 60:00 clearly bracket near- or sub-27:00 potential but he hasn't run a rabbited non-championship 10,000 since his race against Webb at Stanford in 2006) and 2nd on the all-time U.S. half-marathon list. He's also 4th on the all-time U.S. list at two miles behind Teg (8:07), Webb and Kennedy, but it's actually basically a statistical dead heat between Webb (8:11.48), Kennedy (8:11.59) and Ritz (8:11.74) for second as all are within a .26 second spread.
● Multiple U.S. titles in Cross
● Multiple U.S. teams at 10,000 and World Cross.
● He had a winning record against 26:48 10,000 performer Rupp prior to his move to the marathon and de-emphasis on the 10,000.
Now, contrast that with Ritz's marathon credentials:
● Never won anything, even against U.S.-only competition, and has no records of any kind.
● Even when he was, by all accounts, in the best shape of his life and set a PR, he couldn't make the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon team, despite making multiple U.S. WC and Oly teams at 10,000. Granted, he did make the U.S. marathon team for Beijing.
● His 2:09:55 PR puts him just 14th on the all-time U.S. performer list (13th if you disregard Kempainen's wind-aided 2:08:47 at Boston) behind Hall, Khannouchi, Bob Kempainen, Salazar, Dick Beardsley, Abdi, Greg Meyer, Meb, Bill Rodgers, Ron Tabb, David Morris, Jerry Lawson, Ken Martin, and Alan Culpepper.
● His 2:09:55 PR is just 33rd on the all-time U.S. performance list, tied with Bill Rodgers' 2:09:55 AR from Boston in '75.
● After multiple attempts, best two marathons are 2:09:55 (under nearly perfect conditions) and 2:10:00, times routinely beaten by runners at nowhere near Ritz's level from 5,000 (12:56) to the half-marathon (60:00); U.S. examples include Bill Rodgers (2:09:27/28:04/13:42) and even Alberto Salazar (2:08:13/27:25/13:11).
● While he was the highest-placing American in Beijing (9th) it took one of his best races to just barely beat Hall's worst race (by far), and his 9th is diminished somewhat by the three-athlete limit in the Olys. Majors can be even deeper than the Olys.
It's simple: Ritz doesn't have the gas tank for the marathon. That's not a knock, that's a conclusion based on objective data from multiple marathons over a period of at least five years. Some guys who are aerobic beasts just don't have the frame and/or gas tank for the marathon. Ritz is one of those guys. Not a criticism. The guy's a beast, just not a marathon beast. He's very good at the marathon but not nearly as good as he is from 5000 to the half-marathon.
I understand that his chances to medal at 10,000 are slim and none, but his chances to medal at the marathon are none and none. If you're in "the shape of your life" and you can't (1) make the U.S. team and (2) even crack the U.S. all-time top 13, that's not the event for you, and you have even less of a shot on the world stage than you do at 10,000.
Hall was right to move to test the marathon early in his career (though as I've said, I wish he hadn't stayed there exclusively like he did) and that test was successful. But Ritz's marathon experiment should be over. It just ain't there like it is from 5000 to the half-marathon and cross.