Dathan Ritzenhein didn't run the most impressive race of the day in Sunday's NYC Half Marathon. That went to Ethiopian Tadesse Tola, who out-kicked half-marathon star Patrick Makau to take the title by one second, finishing in 1:00:58. But Ritz ran a solid race to finish third in 1:01:38, beating handily such marathon stars as William Kipsang (2:05:49 in Rotterdam this year - 11th all-time) and Hendrick Ramaala (NYC Marathon champ in 2004).
I think this run solidifies Ritz's place in the second tier of elite distance runners (assuming we lump in Gebrselassie and Bekele and Lel into the first tier and don't make a special one just for them). Tola has run 27:04.89 for 10k, and Makau is currently ranked 4th all-time for the half marathon with a time of 58:56. While those two are still one step above Ritz at this time, this race helps him close the gap.
Ritz should be feeling pretty confident heading into Beijing after this race. My guess is that a good race will see him run somewhere in the 6th to 12th place range, with a great race putting him in the hunt for a medal. We'll see, though. If he really wants the medal, it may take an all-or-nothing performance.
In other results in New York, Catherine Ndereba won the women's race in 1:10:18. Colleen DeReuck, at 44 years of age, was the first American finisher (5th - 1:12:03). Adam Goucher finished 19th in the men's race, running 1:06:06.