It’s 2,401 miles from Houston, TX, to Eugene, OR, going west on Interstate 10 and then north on Interstate 5. It takes 38 hours, through many miles of desert, before reaching the lush landscape of northern California and Oregon.
For Dathan Ritzenhein and Amy Hastings, the trip took more than five months. It was a journey that began in the desert of failure and ended in the landscape of success amid a downpour that washed away the disappointment of their devastating fourth-place finishes at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January.
Last night, the men’s 10,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials was won by the highly favored Galen Rupp, in 27:25.33, an Olympic Trials record. The surprise runner-up was Matt Tegenkamp, in 27:33.94. Taking the third and last spot on the team was Ritzenhein, in 27:36.09—almost nine seconds faster than the Olympic “A” standard he needed coming into the race, thanks in part to working with Rupp, his training partner, for much of the race.
“That fourth-place finish [in Houston] makes this so much better,” Ritzenhein said.
Hastings concurred. “It makes this sweeter,” she said of her own performance.
In the women’s race, Hastings was the victor, in 31:58.36. Natosha Rogers, a junior at Texas A&M who earlier this month became the 2012 NCAA Champion at 10,000 meters, was second in 31:59.21, with Shalane Flanagan third in 31:59.69.
Neither Flanagan, who is already on the U.S. marathon team for London, nor Rogers, who despite running a 40-second personal best did not attain the Olympic “A” standard, will be on the 10,000-meter team. Their spots will be taken by Lisa Uhl, who finished fourth in 32:03.46, and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, who was seventh in 32:17.06. Both had previously bettered the “A” standard.
For Cherobon-Bawcom, a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team is the high point of an astonishing stretch that began last fall when the Kenyan-born runner and new American citizen was granted the right to compete for the United States early last September. Since then, she has won five U.S. road titles—at 10K, 15K, 10 miles, 20K and 25K—and finished fifth in the Olympic Marathon Trials.
All three women are making their first Olympic team. For Rupp and Tegenkamp, it’s their second Olympic team; for Ritzenhein, it’s the third.
“I was really glad that I was able to help a training partner out, Dathan,” said Rupp. “Obviously he had a little bit of a rough road coming into this race.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg