Ultrarunning Magazine named Zach Bitter’s sublime race in the Desert Solstice the Outstanding Male Performance of the Year.
Bitter, a teacher in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, set the American record for 100 miles (11:48:27) and broke the world record for 12 hours (101.66 miles), a mark that surpassed the legendary Yannis Kouros. On a high school track in Phoenix, the 27-year-old ran remarkably consistent splits and averaged seven minutes, four seconds per mile over the 12-hour run on Dec. 14. Click here for a story on his race.
“It is staggering, as mind-boggling as the distance itself,” said Rich McKnight, who crewed for Bitter and watched the records fall. “It is borderline unbelievable and it would be unbelievable if it wasn’t strictly documented.
“It did not look like he was pushing his maximum ability, and I’ve witnessed other record-breaking runs, and this was different. His running form was the same from the first lap to the very last one.
“He was super focused the whole race. He was in a zone and he just stayed in that zone.”
The Desert Solstice performance, along with a record-setting run in the Chicago Lakefront 50-mile earned Bitter a number of awards. Just after Christmas, Ultra Running Magazine ranked Bitter number 6 in its list of top runners for the year. He shared the ranking with Connie Gardner, one spot below another Wisconsin native, Cassie Scallon. She won the USA 50-mile road championship in October. Running USAranked Bitter’s record, along with Pam Smith’s World Record for 100 miles (14:11:26) number seven in its 10 best moments for U.S. Distance Running.