by Dathan Ritzenhein | Apr 23, 2012 |
A week ago my good friend Jason Hartmann ran an amazing race to get 4th place at the Boston Marathon. I was incredibly happy for him and proud of how he has kept going and persevered in a sport that can sometimes be difficult.
Most people know that Jason and I were high school teammates, but some people may not know that he is also one of my best friends. Jason was two years ahead of me in school and believe it or not we never won a high school state championship together! After graduation he went to the University of Oregon, and I chased my dreams at the University of Colorado. After college he was in a tough spot. He had a solid college career, but was still full of untapped potential. The worst part for him was that he was injured his senior year.
This sport we love has given me many opportunities, but the reality for many athletes coming out of college is much harder. Having been injured, Jason didn’t have many options, but with some persuasion he moved to Boulder and lived with us while he got fit again. He worked his butt off day in and day out. We became such great friends over that time, that he was a groomsman in our wedding. Over these years we have been able to share the struggles and victories that this life has offered us.
In 2008 he suffered a pretty bad injury, a stress fracture in his navicular bone along with two other bones in his feet. Having become somewhat of an expert in running injuries and recovery I was very worried. I had seen enough MRI’s and experienced enough to know this was possibly a career ender. It would be devastating news for any athlete
During his recovery, we were both living in Eugene, but after some thought he decided Colorado was better suited for his training. Fortunately, luck was on his side, and he came back from injury without any serious problems. It did take a good six months to heal, but he didn’t need surgery as most people with that problem need a pin put in the bone. Six months, however, is a lifetime in the sport of professional running. No running and in a boot the whole time can make that time drag by.
Jason stuck his nose back in it, however, and he worked his way back into shape. Amazingly, a year later, he won the Twin Cities Marathon. We were so happy for him. He continued that success the following fall with a 2:11:06, in less than ideal conditions, at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. I was amazed because Jason seemed to find his niche in the marathon but he doesn’t fit the physical mold of a world class marathoner. At 6’3″ and 160 lbs, he burns so much more fuel than someone my size.
This fall we talked a great length about the Olympic Trials Marathon. He really put everything into that race and we both walked away not making the team. For me, I knew I had the option to come back and try to make the team on the track, but Jason told me he was going to give Boston a try and I thought it would be tough, but a good opportunity for him.
With his back against the wall he came out and delivered. I was so excited to see him coming in and knowing he had done something special. The marathon is where it is at for him, he knows how to run well for 26.2 miles. The future looks bright and after the years of struggle and watching him try to make it in this awesome but difficult sport, he deserves it.
Great job Jason!