Mile News

Children of the Internet era, Webb, Ritzenhein know intense scrutiny

June 23, 2012

By Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

EUGENE, Ore. -- They were the lab rats. Test cases for the digital world that lay ahead and now greets every runner who shows a hint of promise, subjecting them to the scrutiny that comes with being fast young. It was the spring of 2001 and two runners born 14 days apart as December of 1982 turned into January of 1983 were bookmarked for life. Neither would take an unrecorded meaningful step for the rest of his career.

This I recall with some clarity because I participated wholly in the early days of the exercise (an act about which I feel some guilt at this point). These two high school kids had become well known in the running underground. It was possible that they would break longstanding records that had been set decades earlier by famous men, and so it was important that we not only capture their present, but also predict their future. So in a one-week stretch in the mid-spring of 2001, I went first to the small city of Rockford, Mich., to meet with Dathan Ritzenhein and then to the suburbs of Washington, D.C., to talk with Alan Webb.

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Tags: tim layden (9) , sports illustrated (12) , dathan ritzenhein (5) , alan webb (57)

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