A couple top guns among U.S. ultra runners will race to build their credentials in the sixth Mad City in Vilas Park on Saturday.
In past years, the race has served as the USATF 100K national championship, but a conflict with the World Championship for that distance altered the plans for 2012. Race Director Tim Yanacheck shortened the run to 50K – five laps around Lake Wingra.
"In 2009, we had to forego a national championship 100K race, too,” Yanacheck said. “So we cut the distance back and put on a very highly-competitive, national-class 50K event.”
The winning male, Patrick Russell, set a course record in 3:08:28, and the fastest female, Julie Spencer, set the standard in 3:34:45. Both records still stand.
Yanacheck expects that Zach Bitter, a teacher from Marinette, and Eric Senseman, a grad student from Missouri, have a shot at breaking the men’s mark. Both will gather experience on the course for a national championship run in 2013 and establish their credentials for slots on future U.S. teams.
“It gets their name out there,” Yanacheck said. “Other ultra runners recognize them.”
Bitter already has gained a reputation as one of the best ultra runners in the country. He ran the fastest 50-mile time in the U.S. in 2011, when he won the Door County Fall Classic in 5:26:52.
Almost more impressive, he logged 189.5 miles in a week of training earlier this month. Check out more about Bitter on his blog.