Name: Dathan Ritzenhein
Hometown: Rockford, Michigan
Current Residence: Beaverton, Oregon
Years competing: Since age 11, eight years professionally
How did you get started in your sport?
I began running with my dad at the local running club when I was about 11-years-old. I started competing in triathlons before focusing solely on running in high school.
What are some notable highs from your career?
I broke the American record in the 5000m, running 12:56 in 2009. I also won a bronze medal at the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships. I am also a three-time USA cross-country champion.
What is the lowest point you’ve experienced? How did you bounce back?
In 2011, I had two Achilles surgeries with many complications. I had a long-lasting post-surgical infection, and it kept me from running for six months. It was the hardest time in my career because I have always been able to focus on cross training to keep fit, but with the recurring infections and open wound, I could not exercise at all. I spent a lot of time with my family, and without the support and love of my wife and kids, I would have given up.
What are your goals, both short term and long term?
I just missed making the Olympic team in the marathon in January 2012. I was fourth place—eight seconds out—and just the top three make the team. I am training well now and hope to make my third Olympic team in the 10,000m at the Trials this June.
Long term I hope to keep running for another four to eight years and continue through the ups and downs of being a professional runner.
What surprises have you experienced in your career?
Surprises happen in this sport all the time, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but that is what makes it interesting.
What brought you to Oregon?
I moved to Eugene in 2007 to train on softer surfaces. After two years, I moved up to Beaverton to begin training with Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project out of the Nike World Headquarters.
What is your favorite thing about Oregon athletically?
I love that it rarely snows in the Willamette Valley! Having grown up in Michigan and attended college in Colorado, I hated having to worry about running in the snow.
When you’re not training or competing, what do you like to do?
I have a wife and two kids, ages 4 and almost 2. I love just being a father and husband and spending any spare time with them.
Hobbies? Favorite restaurant? Favorite hangout?
I love to read. My favorite restaurant is Pepino’s on NW 23rd in Portland. I just hang out when I’m at home because I train a lot.