Friday, August 28, 2009
Dathan Ritzenhein Runs an American Record 5000m
I came home early from setting up my classroom today to watch the Golden League track meet in Zurich live online. I was rewarded by watching a great track meet and a stupendous race by Dathan Ritzenhien. Ritz had finished sixth in the 10000 meters at the World Championships in Berlin after a couple of years of marathoning. It was to be a fast race and sure enough Dathan was at the back of the paceline looking like he was barely hanging on. He remained at the back of the pack of African runners as they set a torrid pace for Kenenisia Bekele. I just hoped that Dathan could hold on and maybe break 13:10.
A strange thing happened in the last few laps. In the distance you could see Dathan picking off runners one at time. Pretty soon he was in fifth, then fourth, then third with a lap remaining and then into second place 20 or so yards behind Bekele and it looked like he was closing in on him. And for a brief moment there was a belief that the American might just run the world's greatest runner down and strip him of his chance to win one million dollars. The moment might have been brief but you could actually believe that it could happen. When was the last time an American runner had done something so electric. Dathan fell to third at the end, but not before breaking the American record with an unexpected 12:56:27! What a thrilling race.
If you didn't see the race you can see the last couple laps on Ethionet at this link:
Or watch the whole race at Universal Sports here (start is at 2:05 right after the pole vault world record).
Here is a Flotrack interview of Dathan Ritzenhein after the race