Twelve men and 10 women who competed in February’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials will be racing the TCS New York City Marathon.
This group includes two big names at opposite ends of the marathon experience spectrum–three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will be running his tenth marathon in 10 years and two-time Olympian Kim Conley will be racing her first-ever career marathon.
They will be two of 38 Americans competing for a USA prize purse that will be included in the marathon’s overall prize purse for the first time in a decade. This prize will total $116,000, with the top male and female American finisher each taking home $25,000.
Ritzenhein, 33, made his marathon debut in the five boroughs in 2006, finishing 11th (2:14:01) and returned in 2010 to place eighth (2:12:33). Since then, he’s recorded two top-10 finishes at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, as well as a seventh-place finish at last year’s Boston Marathon.
“The marathon, hopefully, this time will be a lot better than it was 10 years ago because it was brutal,” Ritzenhein said. “It was my first time, and I was really inexperienced and probably pretty naïve. But I’ve got 10 marathons in me now and 10 more years, so lots of miles.”
Ritzenhein, who took second place behind Mo Farah at September’s Great North Run, has been self-coached for two years now, living with his wife in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI.
“I think the challenge of self-coaching is really about being honest with yourself,” he said. “For me, it's about trying not to overdo it. So I just listen to my body a lot. I skip double runs if I don't feel good. I cut an extra mile off.”
He adds: “I don't ever struggle with the motivation part. That's been good for me. But at the same time, when you get out to 16, 18 miles, no one's with you anyway. So you have to be comfortable with doing that.”
Conley, meanwhile, is just getting started in the 26.2-mile distance after making her second Olympic appearance on the track this summer in the 5000 meters.
“I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a long marathon career,” she said. “I mostly just hope it leaves me feeling really excited about the future.”
The 30-year-old West Sacramento, CA, native was in New York City in September, when she tested the TCS New York City Marathon Course and won the New Balance Bronx 10 Mile in an event-record 55:37.
“That was a great opportunity for me to come to New York,” Conley said. “I ran everything but the first eight miles of the course, I gathered a lot of intel that I took home, and I tried to find places at home to run that kind of simulated the texture of the course. It's a great course. I don't feel like there's any place where you can really settle. You have to be alert throughout.”
Conley has claimed two titles at the USATF Half-Marathon Championships and will now be looking to make the podium in a race twice that length.
“I would hope to be under 2:30,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with conditions and how the race plays out. I watched a lot of previous New York footage, and there are years where it just goes out really slowly. So we'll just see.”
By Stuart Lieberman
GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.
TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.