Some Of The Top Africans Want 61:45 But Dathan Ritzenhein Doesn’t Think That Makes Sense
October 11, 2013
Chicago, IL – A lot of the talk at Friday’s Chicago Marathon pre-race press conference centered on how fast the lead men’s rabbits might be tasked with going out for the first half-marathon. Last year, the front pack went out in an unexpectedly slow 62:55 and ran negative splits with the eventual winner and course record breaker Tsegaye Kebede coming home with a 61:43 second half to set the 2:04:38 Chicago Marathon course record. However, this year with near ideal conditions predicted for Sunday (a tiny bit windy), there is talk that some of the top Africans might want a 61:45 first half to give themselves a shot at the World Record.
Meet Director Carey Pinkowski said that as of now there has been no official pace set for the rabbits and that it would be a “democratic process” where they will discuss it with the athletes, coaches and managers and try to find “some common ground”. He emphasized that he feels competition is still the most important part of the race and said:
“I’m a little hard headed. I’ve always felt competition is important. I think when you guys have race each other that’s just as important as a fast time. I’ve always felt like a World record could come from competition and our World records have come from competition. I haven’t crossed over to the other side where you just set it off in the specifics of the World record. I’ve always felt like you have a balance of race of athletes that complement themselves with their athleticism and chemistry and just let them go.”
The question to be solved in the next day or two is whether or not the “common ground” means a slowing of the lead pace enough to satisfy top American entrant Dathan Ritzenhein.
Ritz On The Pace
As far as what he’d like to see from the pacing, Ritz, who went out in 63:25 last year and was on 2:06:53 pace as late as 35k until losing a minute on the way home, reiterated that he’d like to see the leaders go out in 62:45 to 63:00 for the first half. That is ideal in Ritz’s mind as the leaders went out that slow last year and still go the course record, and if they do it again this year, it’s a pace Ritz thinks he can handle as he thinks he can run 1-2 minutes faster than last year if everything goes perfectly.
He didn’t shy away from the fact that he thinks that talk of a first half in 61:45 is crazy. He admitted on the one hand it might benefit him if the leaders go out that fast because he doesn’t think any of them are going to hold it and he’ll be able to pick more people off that way. Ritz told Kelvin Selby last week he wouldn’t be a kamikaze and go out that fast.
In an ideal world for Ritz, the leaders would go out at a pace where he could keep contact and be racing the second half. He thinks a conservative first half is the smart way to run at Chicago and even said he would “try to talk some sense” into the African runners when they discussed what pace the rabbits would be tasked to run.
He feels that a 61:45 “doesn’t make sense” but that for some of the Africans going out hard like that “is all they know” and they also have agents “talking in their ears over and over” about a World Record. Ritz also thinks a conservative first half makes for a more exciting race where people “make moves” and race each other instead of everyone going out at a suicidal pace and seeing who holds on the longest which he feels is almost always “anti-climatic”.
For his race he said he wants to be “conservatively aggressive” where he will try to be competitive as possible and keep contact, but be cautious and would back off if the pace was over his head.
Dathan Ritzenhein On His Training:
Ritzenhein is very confident in his preparations for Chicago saying that he “feels prepared as possible” and “doesn’t see any chinks in the armor”.
Comparing mileage and workouts he said that doing Chicago last year was basically “an extension of track season” where as this year he’s had 8 weeks that were completely different and focused on Chicago. His mileage has been higher as last year he topped out at 110 with down weeks in the 80-90 range while now he had 5 weeks averaging 120 and even topped out at 130 for one week.
Asked what helped him finally figure out the marathon last year, Ritzenhein said a big part of it was just staying healthy for a long period of time, which for him is “still so much effort”. He said it’s “easy to get complacent” and just think you’re past the injury issues, but for him he has to keep on top of it and still does an hour of preventative work a day and spends hours in the gym doing strengthening exercises.
Ritz also mentioned that he might run the US Cross Country Championships this year since they are in Boulder, CO which might be too tempting to pass up.
Mosop Is at 95%
Mosop shared the podium with Ritz today. After talking to him yesterday, we knew he was happy with how his training has been going prior to his first marathon in 18 months. We got a nice clarification of how how satisfied today. Mosop said that he operating at 95% this year, as opposed to the 85% in 2011 when he still ran a then course record of 2:05:37, which got some laughs from everyone.
95% probably means something very fast as he later told David Monti matter of factly that 100% means “I run 2:02.”
What about Emmanuel Mutai?
Emanuel Mutai, the man who was second at London this year and has been second at four other majors or Worlds, was someone like Ritz who was at today’s press event but not yesterdays. Mutai fans, you will be pleased to know he said he’s 100% healthy (no injuries or illness). Don’t forget that Saturday is his 28th birthday.
So it seems as if all of the major players are ready to compete without excuses.
Quick Thought #1: We agree with Ritz. A race that starts off slightly slower and allows people to make moves is way more entertaining for fans than a war of attrition that is a world record attempt (to be truthful, we think it would be neat if they only had rabbits in Chicago every other year). That being said, it makes us a little uncomfortable that the lead pace might be slowed to satisfy an American, whether directly or indirectly.
With as much money as Ritz has behind him, if he needs a rabbit to go out at 62:50, why doesn’t he or the race organizers pay for his own?
Check back later for another piece regarding Matt Tegenkamp.
More: *LRC 5 Takeaways From Thursday’s One-On-One Interviews
*LRC Men’s Preview: Who Will Emerge In Loaded Men’s Field? Do Americans Tegenkamp And Ritzenhein Have A Chance?
*LRC Women’s Preview: Which 2:22-23 Woman Will Win On Sunday?