Ritzenhein and Webb join field at 2006 USA Cross Country Championships presented by Gleukos


Jim Estes
LDR Programs Manager
USA Track & Field

INDIANAPOLIS - Two of the brightest young stars in American distance running, Dathan Ritzenhein and Alan Webb, are entered to face off in the 12 km race at the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships and World Cross Country Team Trials presented by Gleukos.

The championships, which will be held in New York City's famed Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on February 18-19, traditionally attract the nation's best athletes. This year's total prize-money purse of $50,000 is the largest prize purse in USA Cross Country Championships history and is three times larger than last year's $16,000 purse.The 12 km championship is scheduled for Sunday, February 19, as the closing race of thechampionships weekend.

Highlights from the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships presented by Gleukos and hosted by the New York Road Runners will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 on February 20, 2006.

Both Ritzenhein and Webb began the 2006 season abroad, and each has posted strong performances in cross country events.

Ritzenhein, 23, of Boulder, Colorado, is the defending USA Cross Country Champion at 12 km, and finished 62nd at the 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint-Galmier, France. On January 8, 2006, he returned to the Belfast International Cross Country to attempt to defend his 2005 title, and finished third against a competitive field despite running almost a minute faster over the 9.81 km course. At the VisitScotland Great Edinburgh International Cross Country on January 14, he finished fourth against another world-class field.

Webb, 23, of Reston, Virginia, running the first two international cross country races of his career, placed fifth at the 10.75 km Cross Internacional Ciudad de Valladolid on January 22, and fourth in the Cross Ciudad de Haro on January 29, both in Spain. Webb first made headlines as a prep runner in 2001 by breaking the four-minute mile and setting an American schoolboy record on the track, and he has continued to reign as one of America's best milers. Despite focusing much of his career on track running, he finished sixth in the 4 km at the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships.

Ritzenhein and Webb have met four times, with Ritzenhein defeating Webb all but once. However, Webb's year-to-date performances have demonstrated a new capacity for the longer cross country distances, suggesting this year the match-up could be more competitive.

Also entered in the championships field are Jorge Torres of Boulder, Colorado, the top American finisher from the 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships 4 km; 2000 USA Cross Country 4 km and 12 km champion Adam Goucher of Portland, Oregon; and 2004 Olympic steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti of New York City.

The Presidents' Weekend schedule features the men's open 4 km and women's open 8 km championship races on Saturday, February 18, and the women's open 4 km and men's open 12 km events on Sunday, February 19. The top six finishers in each championship race will earn a berth on the American team for the 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on April 1-2.

For media accreditation contact Richard Finn in the Media Relations Department at the New York Road Runners at 212-423-2229.

For more information on the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships presented by Gleukos visit www.usatf.org.