His 7 min. per mile pace falls short of 6:53 needed to break world record
by Joel Patenaude
By running 100 miles on a high school track at a 7 minute per mile pace, Zach Bitter bested his own American record for that distance on December 19.
Bitter, who moved to Davis, California, from Madison, Wisconsin, this past summer, returned to the track at Central High School in Phoenix, Arizona, for the Desert Solstice Invitational. At the event in 2013, Bitter set the American record for 100 miles by running the distance in 11 hours 47 minutes 21 seconds.
Because it was within reach, he continued until he set a new 12-hour world record of 101.66 miles.
Bitter bested his 100-mile feat by running 11:40:55 on Saturday. That averages to half a second over 7 minutes per mile. As impressive as that is, Bitter’s declared goal going into the race was to break the 100-mile world record of 11:28:03, set by Russian Oleg Kharitonov in 2002. To do that, Bitter would have needed to run faster than Kharitonov’s 6:53 pace.
According to a commentator heard on this 10-minute video posted on Facebook, Bitter broke the American record for 100K en route to resetting the 100 mile record. After finishing, Bitter lay on the track for some time, talking about pain his right hamstring and right shoulder and his craving for a burger. He said he doubted he could have continued running to challenge the 12-hour U.S. record he set in 2013.
Bitter already holds the 200K U.S. record (16:23:33) and many untra-distance race course records.
To train for his second Desert Solstice 100-mile race – his fourth ultra-distance track event – Bitter put in some monster mileage. According to his blog, he ran 144 to 169 miles for three consecutive weeks in November. A lot of that was run on a track. He ran in both directions knowing that at Desert Solstice runners switch from running counterclockwise to clockwise and back every four hours to alleviate the stress caused by turning in only one direction on the 400-meter track.
Joel Patenaude is the editor of Silent Sports.