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‘Marathon Major’

Rittenbach completes world’s top six marathons

Gary Rittenbach completed the Berlin Marathon in 2013 with a time of 3:43:19.

Gary Rittenbach completed the Berlin Marathon in 2013 with a time of 3:43:19.

Gary Rittenbach, director of academic computing, recently joined the narrow ranks of marathon runners to complete the world’s top six marathons: New York, Chicago, Berlin, Boston, Tokyo, and London.

His quest began in 2010 when he ran the Boston Marathon in April and the New York Marathon in November. It finished five years later in April 2015 in London. Upon crossing the finish line at the London Marathon, Rittenbach became one of just 428 Six Star Finishers of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

At the Berlin Marathon in 2012, he finished his fastest marathon with a time of 3:43:19. In 2013 he ran the Boston Marathon for the second time. “Providentially, I had a good run and finished 19 minutes before the bombs went off,” said Rittenbach, who was just a few blocks away when he heard the explosions that rocked the finish line.

“I will never forget my comment after the first explosion, ‘No sound like that should ever come from the finish line. I hope it’s just an accident and not malicious.’ But when the second one went off my heart just sank,” he said.

“It’s hard to get into some of these major marathons. The Boston Marathon is a time-qualification entry, but the rest are based on a lottery system,” said Rittenbach. “I tried for four years to get into the London Marathon, but never was accepted in the lottery.”

In 2014, after running Boston for the third time, he signed up with a marathon tour operator to gain a spot in Tokyo. Not long after he got the long-awaited news that he had a place in the London Marathon.

In February 2015, Rittenbach completed the Tokyo Marathon, and in April he crossed the finish line in London. “Running two marathons in one year is a big deal, especially when they’re nine weeks apart,” said Rittenbach.

London was his last planned marathon, but he says he will always be a runner.

“If I could say just one thing to people, I would encourage them to go out and do something,” said Rittenbach. “No matter what it is—biking, swimming, running. Rediscover the joy of movement. It will change your life.”

Rittenbach has run more than 10,000 miles during the last 10 years. Read his tips for a successful running program and for race preparation.

Posted August 24, 2015

Last update on November 23, 2015