Ritzenhein to lead US challenge at the Virgin London Marathon

Dathan Ritzenhein will return to the scene of his fastest marathon performance when he runs the 2011 Virgin London Marathon on 17 April.

A three-times US cross country champion, ‘Ritz’ is one of seven Americans added to an élite men’s field described as one of the best ever seen in the 30-year history of the race.

Ritzenhein joins Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru, World champion Abel Kirui and defending London champion Tsegaye Kebede in a men’s field that includes no fewer than six athletes who have run quicker than 2hrs 5mins 30secs.

The 28-year-old, who ran his personal best of 2:10:00 in London in 2009, finished eighth in last November’s New York City Marathon and won a bronze medal at the world half marathon championships in Birmingham in 2009. A former US 5000m record holder, the Oregon-based athlete was also sixth in the 2009 world championships 10,000m final.

“I am delighted to be returning to London,” said Ritzenhein, who was fourth in last year’s Great North Run.

“When I raced in London two years ago I produced my best time so I hope the strength of this field can inspire me to run another PB this year,” he said. “It will be a daunting task against such talented opponents but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Virgin London Marathon race director David Bedford welcomed his new signings, saying:

“I am delighted Dathan will be running the London Marathon again this year. We have most of the best marathon runners in the world in the line-up for 17 April and hopefully that will give ‘Ritz’ the platform he needs to improve his best time as all the athletes build towards the London Olympics next year.”

Ritzenhein will line-up alongside five compatriots, including Jason Lehmkuhle who was ninth in the Boston marathon last year, marathon debutant Stephan Shay, the younger brother of Ryan, the US international who died of a heart attack competing in the Olympic marathon trials in New York in 2007. The others are Michael Aish, Patrick Smyth and Mohamed Trafeh.

The following is a full list of the men’s and women’s elite entries for the 2011 Virgin London Marathon.

Elite athletes and their best marathon times

Tsegaye Kebede ETH 2:05:18
Patrick Makau KEN 2:04:48
Samuel Wanjiru KEN 2:05:10
Abel Kirui KEN 2:05:04
Bazu Worku ETH 2:05:25
Jaouad Gharib MAR 2:05:27
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:06:15
Viktor Röthlin SUI 2:07:23
Abderrahime Bouramdane MAR 2:07:33
Yonas Kifle ERI 2:07:34
José Manuel Martinez ESP 2:08:09
Marilson Gomes dos Santos BRA 2:08:37
Dathan Ritzenhein USA 2:10:00
Dmitry Safronov RUS 2:10:12
Reid Coolsaet CAN 2:11:23
Eric Gillis CAN 2:12:08
Dylan Wykes CAN 2:12:39
Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 2:12:40
Jason Lehmkuhle USA 2:12:54
Mike Shelley AUS 2:13:05
Michael Aish USA 2:13:21
Andrew Lemoncello GBR 2:13:40
Collis Birmingham AUS Debut
Stephan Shay USA Debut
Patrick Smyth USA Debut
Mohamed Trafeh USA Debut

Liliya Shobukhova RUS 2:20:25
Zhou Chunxiu CHN 2:19:51
Irina Mikitenko GER 2:19:19
Constantina Dita ROU 2:21:30
Askale Tafa ETH 2:21:31
Inga Abitova RUS 2:22:19
Lornah Kiplagat NED 2:22:22
Aselefech Mergia ETH 2:22:38
Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:23:09
Mara Yamauchi GBR 2:23:12
Bai Xue CHN 2:23:27
Mariya Konovalova RUS 2:23:50
Xiaolin Zhu CHN 2:23:57
Aberu Kebede ETH 2:23:58
Yukiko Akaba JPN 2:24:55
Edna Kiplagat KEN 2:25:38
Magdalena Lewy Boulet USA 2:26:22
Liz Yelling GBR 2:28:33
Lisa Weightman AUS 2:28:48
Mary Keitany KEN 2:29:01
Fiona Docherty NZL 2:32:17
Tanith Maxwell RSA 2:32:33
Jo Pavey GBR Debut
Jessica Augusto POR Debut
Nikki Chapple AUS Debut

For more information contact the Virgin London Marathon Press Office:
Nicola Okey 020 7902 0182 / 07799 661345;
Hannah Finch 020 7902 0199;