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Dathan Ritzenhein, 3-time Olympic runner, retires

Dathan Ritzenhein

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Diego Estrada and Dathen Ritzenhein lead a pack of runners during the U.S Olympic Marathon Team Trials on February 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

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Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and the fourth-fastest U.S. marathoner in history, has retired.

Ritzenhein, 37, made the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics with a best finish of ninth in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Games.

He dropped out of the late stages of the Olympic marathon trials in 2016 and 2020. He completed one marathon in the last five years, finishing 19th in Boston in 2019.

“I guess I’m not necessarily 25 and retiring in my prime,” Ritzenhein said, according to Race Results Weekly. “I have things that I wish that I have done in my career, but I’m also very satisfied, too. I think right now it’s something that I thought a lot about the last year. I’ve had a lot of nostalgic moments, looking back a lot more than looking forward. So, I don’t know that I had a lot more goals that I was looking to accomplish.”

He clocked a personal-best 2:07:47 at the 2012 Chicago Marathon to, at the time, become the third-fastest U.S. marathoner ever. Since, Galen Rupp passed him on the all-time list behind Ryan Hall and Khalid Khannouchi.

Ritzenhein, a high school prodigy, struggled with foot injuries for much of his pro career, among three surgeries and 40-plus MRIs, according to Race Results Weekly. A bio-mechanical study of his running form revealed that his stride put an abnormal amount of pressure on the third metatarsal bone on his right foot.

Ritzenhein is one of five men to win the prestigious Foot Locker National Cross-Country Championships for high schoolers twice, doing so in 1999 and 2000. At the University of Colorado, he was a four-time All-American and the 2003 NCAA cross-country champion.

“I read a book last summer about the Tour de France,” Mark Wetmore, Ritzenhein’s coach at Colorado, said, according to the Rocky Mountain News in 2003. “It was talking about [five-time Tour winner] Bernard Hinault. Someone said he had the ability to destroy himself. Dathan has that ability.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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