Ritzenhein reflects on 20-year career upon retirement


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Dathan Ritzenhein is one of the most successful athletes ever to come out of West Michigan, but he has run his final race after more than 20 years of competition. 

The Rockford native announced his retirement from competitive racing Thursday.

>>Watch full interview with Ritzenhein above<<

“I’m amazed to look back now,” Ritzenhein said. “Going back through memories and seeing some of the pictures and the videos, I definitely had a big wave of nostalgia. There was a lot of that was packed into those 20 plus years of really competitive running. I was blessed to have a long career.”

He was a high school state and national champion at Rockford, a collegiate national champion at Colorado, a three-time Olympian and a five-time U.S. national champion.

“Those Olympic teams are highlights for sure,” he said. “When I made my first one at just 21 years old in Athens in 2004, I really didn’t know if I would make another one. A lot of people only make one. The U.S. Olympic Committee complied stats and I think it’s less than four or five percent of Olympians make three teams. I was able to go on to Beijing and be ninth, the top American there, and then make another team in the 10K in 2012. It’s a pretty prestigious group, and I’m really proud of those moments.”

In recent years, Ritzenhein has gotten more involved in coaching, something he plans to do more of in the years ahead.

“I just love running,” Ritzenhein said. “I love being part of that world, being in that track and field world. I love seeing other people make their dreams happen. It’s pretty great to be able to see other people do those things that I did.”

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