Long-distance runner and American record holder, Zach Bitter, once again found himself in the record books. This time though, he had another target in mind, the World record, and he certainly delivered. The Wisconsin native clocked a time of 11:19:13 in Milwaukee while participating in the Six Days in the Dome event.
Six years after Bitter snatched the American record, it was only logical that this record be next on the hit list. So, he dedicated all those six years to gunning for the World record. What made his achievement all the more amazing was the fact that it was only his second 100-mile event.
Initially, he was planning to attend the Spartathlon in Greece, which is held in September. However, the detour took place when he received a call from the race director of the Six Days in the Dome marathon in his home state of Wisconsin. Naturally, he was not about to pass up an opportunity to run at home.
Speaking to Runners World, Zach Bitter said, “I was in the heart of Phoenix summers where it would get to like 100 degrees and was running for 3 to 3.5 hours and still hitting 6:30 paces. In a four-week training block, I hit 134, two 150-mile weeks, and one other loaded week, so I felt like I was in the best shape I’d ever been in.”
“About five to six weeks out, I decided that if the opportunity presented itself at the race, I wouldn’t pass it up. Once my mind shifted to that, it became the main race for me, and I started thinking that it could happen.”
As if that wasn’t enough, he also participated in a 12-hour race, which begs the question is he is actually human. With the 12-hour distance record within his grasp, Bitter slowed down, but kept running for another 40 minutes to beat his own world record by running 104.8 miles in 12 hours.
“Around 50 miles, I wasn’t super confident that I could double back on that,” Bitter said. “I had a few good laps after that, and when I got to the distance of my longest long run, I got into a really good headspace. It was the mental break I needed to stop thinking about the last dozens of miles as a 100-miler, and think of it as something I do on the weekends.”
“Aside from getting the record myself, I hope this put a spotlight on these events,” Bitter said. “Trails get all the love, but legends of ultras weren’t afraid to take on flatter courses, so if I can motivate some to take a swing at this, I think there are definitely guys in this sport who can go under 11 hours. I’m curious to see what the human body can do in this sort of race.”