For the first time ever, three time Olympian and Rockford native Dathan Ritzenhein will compete in the River Bank Run 25K.

His participation comes after years of prodding by Greg Meyer, who coordinates the elite runners.

This is the first year the race made sense in Dathan's training and competition schedule.

He says he's excited to run in front of a hometown crowd. "It really just fell right on the calendar and I'm just excited to be here in my hometown and finally do this race after years of watching it and wanting to be out there."

"Everyone loves a hometown hero, and Dathan is that," explained Greg Meyer. "He is one of the greatest American distance runners ever and we're lucky enough to have him in our community.

"But he's got his hands full. He is going to have to run hard if he wants to win this thing."

Dathan told WZZM he hopes to average about four minutes and 50 seconds a mile during the 25K race. He'll be running against other elite athletes including the current American record holder, Christopher Landry who won the event last year.

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