Posts Tagged ‘Ritzenhein’

The Edinburgh cross country international is always the January highlight. It’s the meeting that gets rid of the turkey fat and Christmas cheer lingering around the house and running community. It says “Boys, the fun’s over. Now the real fun can start again”.

So when I looked over the press releases for the 8 January 2011 event I had some lofty expectations.

One of the best bits of the Edinburgh race is watching the best in the world tough it out, man-on-man. The organisers always put together an impressive field. There are always some tasty head to heads – usually linking in some top westerners (i.e. Americans), top Europeans (Sergey THE LEGEND Lebid) with the top East Africans.

Make no mistake, Kenny B, Eliud Kipchoge et al pretty much always dust the pretenders and run away unchallenged for the final portion of the race. Almost always.

Anyway here is my gripe for January’s race. They invited Dathan Ritzenhein and Galen Rupp, two of the US’s brightest stars. Dathan in particular has a fantastic cross country pedigree.

But why then are you griping midpack slacker? Here’s why:


A Men’s International Team Challenge. Ridiculous. We want to see Ritz charging off alongside Asbel Kiprop, going “hey there, what you have got? Here’s what I got”. That’s how Ritz races and that’s why we love watching him. All the guts and glory of the opening miles of a cross country race. Different athletes, specialising in different distances, meeting over common ground. Literally. It’s the magic of cross country.

But not this year.

Nope. You’ll get Kiprop, Kipruto and the gang smashing up a 4km race, before a second race, an 8km team challenge (??) comprising the US, UK, and rest of Europe runners. Granted, it will be interesting to see the pecking order in this “second string race” (yes, that’s what it is, sorry). But the point is this pecking order would have been just as well decided had it all been in one mass race.

C’mon Edinburgh Cross Country, let’s go back to the good stuff next time around, yeah.

Disappointing to say the least.

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Well I didn’t really meet him, as much as see him as he raced by at almost the front of the world half marathon championships in sunny Birmingham last October.

I filmed him with my trusty handheld apple-device-phone-camera and posted it on YouTube. I wouldn’t bother you with it, only it recently broke the 1000 views mark, which is an occasion to crack open a beer, in my rarely-viewed book.

As far as non-Africans go, this guy is pretty much the biscuit at the moment. You could do a lot worse than pay close attention to his progress over these next few years. The guy is hard-fucking-core. And with Al Sal watching over his every move, he ain’t gonna lie down for anybody.

Ps I know it’s easy to pick a proven winner and go, look at him, he’s great. Well it is easy yes, well spotted.

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