Runner Files: Zach Bitter May 20 2015, 1 Comment
Zach Bitter holds the American record for the timed 100-mile run and the 12 hour world record in running. Read more in our Q&A with Zach:
1. Can you tell us a bit about your running history? How did you get started?
“I've always been active and loved sports. My first exposure to distance running was doing the Presidential Fitness Challenge in sixth grade when we ran the mile. That's where I realized that I was much better at distance than sprints. I really got into distance running in high school through track and cross country, and it carried over into college where I competed for the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. At UW-SP I learned that I seemed to get better as the distances got longer, so to me, ultra-running was a logic sport.”
2. When did you decide to start trying for longer distances?
“After college, I tried a few marathons with mixed results. In 2010 I thought I would try out a 50 miler as there was a trail event near where I lived. I won it and basically fell in love with the ultra-running community and experience from there.”
3. What was it about that challenge that intrigued you?
“I've just always liked to run far. My favorite workout of the week was always the long run, and I've always had an interest in seeing how far I can go and measuring progress within specific distances and environments. At first, it was intriguing moving up in distance as it was certain there would be uncharted territory. Now it is more of a challenge to reach a goal or compete.”
4. Did you ever expect to be able to run 100 miles in 11 hours and 47 minutes? How did you train for that?
“When I went to Desert Solstice in 2013, my goal was to break the American record, which at the time was 11 hours and 59 minutes by Jon Olsen. It was kind of a last minute goal as I didn't even decide to do Desert Solstice until about four weeks before the event. I had been training for the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler (a hilly gravel fire road course). After taking second to Matt Flaherty at Tussey, I recovered really fast and jumped into the Chicago Lake Front 50 miler 13 days later. I felt oddly rested for that event despite the quick turnover and ran it in 5:12:36. So, I guess my training was primarily prepping for a fast 50 mile run and getting the stimulus of racing a couple 50 miles. The workouts I did focused a lot on long progression runs and mile repeats.”
5. Do you have a favorite race memory?
“That's a good question, because they all have their moments, and even the ones that end badly have great lessons to learn from. If I had to pick, it would probably be the waning miles of Desert Solstice when I knew I would break the 100 mile American record and also get the 12 hour world record.
6. What do you love about the running community?
“It's openness. Lots of sports expend a lot of energy hiding strategy and avoiding interaction with the competition. In running, and especially ultra-running, people hang out and share their strategies and experiences as well as get to know one another.”
7. How did you first find out about Orange Mud?
“I usually do my homework when it comes to gear, training, and nutrition, so I was aware of the product line as soon as it hit the market. I was actually skeptical at first with the concept of a bottle on your back, because I thought it would be difficult to take the bottle out and put it back. When I got my hands on the Hydraquiver, it exceeded all expectations. Drawing from and returning the bottle into the quiver was effortless, and I have yet to have it snag or fall out. The way it sits on your upper back has exceeded anything else I have used to date in terms of comfort and keeping the bottles from bouncing.” 8. What's the next race you're most looking forward to participating in? “I am definitely looking forward to competing in the World 100k Championships for the second time this fall. With that said, my current focus is to work on my trail running skills and do a few trails races this summer.”
9. When is your favorite time of day to run?
“I love getting a run in first thing in the morning. This can vary depending on when I wake up, but I love to be on the road or trail within an hour of waking up.”
10. What's your favorite post run treat?
“Anything with coconut oil in it—Yumbutter has been a popular go to lately.”