GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Olympian and West Michigan native Dathan Ritzenhein and repeat winner Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton have won the 25K Fifth Third River Bank Run.
Tuliamuk-Bolton, of Santa Fey, NM, finished with an unofficial time of 01:24:34.930. She was also the 25K women’s winner in 2016 and both years, she was able to hold off the elite men in the race within a race where the elite women start 11 minutes and 30 seconds before the elite men.
“Today’s race was tough,” she said at the finish line. “I thought that the first part of the race was kind of tough because I remembered last year. I felt like I was running faster, but then I was more relaxed. But I think that I ran a smart race today because I think I probably… equalized it. So it was really fun.”
The Fifth Third River Bank Run is where Tuliamuk-Bolton’s running career began.
“Just hoping that I could win it again this year and you know, do it for the women,” she said.
Ritzenhein, a former Olympian, crossed the line a short time later with an unofficial finish time of 01:14:26.
At the finish line, he told 24 Hour News 8 the race was good, but he was hurting “really bad” for the last two miles.
>>Photos: Fifth Third River Bank Run 2017
“It was hard, and I thought I was going to get the record but, I really died the last 800. That finish is so much longer away than I thought it was going to be,” Ritzenhein said.
This was Ritzenhein’s first Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, despite being a native of Belmont.
“We share this road together, road races everywhere, and this is a special event for downtown and I’m just really thrilled to be able to win here in front of the home crowd,” he added.
For the second year in a row, Bob Swanson of Round Lake, IL, won the 25K handcycle race with a time of 44 minutes and 37 seconds.
“It’s exciting man, a lot of hard work though,” Swanson said. “Again, it came down to the four of us, like last year. We were all pushing each other. Man I couldn’t ask for a better race, honestly.”
For the third year in a row, Aaron Pike of Savoy, IL, won the 25K wheelchair race with a time of 53 minutes and 51 seconds.
Pike was a favorite coming into the race, but said his teammate made it a challenge.
“It was good getting pushed, I was, my teammate over here was making it really hard on the climb so I was just trying to survive through the hilly sections and the back and once we got a little downhill I was able to escape from him and take off for the rest of the race. But it felt pretty good,” he said.
“People are going to get inspired by — whether it’s us or just one of the runners you’re seeing — people from all ages, all different disabilities (are here.) And everybody has their issues, right? So everybody’s fighting through something, so it’s pretty cool to see,” Pike said.
Look up race results here, including video results at the finish line of all races.