Zach Bitter photo credit: NordicTrack

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Phoenix, AZ ultradistance runner Zach Bitter, for the second time in 10 months set double world records in a single effort.

Saturday, May 16 he ran for 12 hours on the treadmill and covered the longest distance all-time. He then ran through 100 miles (160.93kms) in the fastest time. In August 2019, Bitter broke the world 100-mile record in the Six Days in the Dome race on the indoor track at the Pettit Centre located in Milwaukee, WI. He ran through in the time of 11-hours, 19-minutes and 13 seconds and covered 169.90-kilometres (104.88 miles). He also bettered the 12-hour record.

On Saturday, he switched between two NordicTrack Commercial X22i treadmills and covered 158.8 kilometres (98.6 miles) to 12-hours. The 100-mile run took him 12:09. The previous records were held by Calgary, AB native Dave Proctor.

The run started at 6:30 AM Pacific, 9:30 AM Atlantic.

Asked how confident he was at taking the records when he first got onto the treadmill, the 34-year-old told Athletics Illustrated, “I went in pretty confident in the physical aspect of getting the records based on previous races. However, without going past 30-miles (48.28km) on a treadmill before, I did have a seed of doubt about the mental-psychological aspect of being on a treadmill for that long. Fortunately, I had a lot of incentive to stay on, since I was doing it for a charity and had about 30 guest speakers lined up to come on throughout the day and share their stories.”

Asked about the difference between an outdoor event that offers a reasonably fast course, to the treadmill, he said, “It really depends on the machine and the setup. As one of our guests Dr. Geoff Burns mentioned on the live stream, there is variances in machines based on the feel and response of the deck. I went in thinking the treadmill would be faster, I think if you can manage all the non-running related aspects it is a bit faster, but not by much compared to lane one in a track. The hardest part to manage all day for me was the amount of fluids I ended up going through. I live in Phoenix, so even with the thermostat turned down, fans, etc., I was going through as much as 60 oz of water per hour during some stretches. When I broke the 100-mile and 12-hour world records in August, I averaged closer to 25 oz of fluid per hour in the Pettit Center.”

Bitter isn’t sure at the moment what is next for him in racing.

“I would like to target some runnable trail events. I will definitely take it is easy for a week or so and work on deciding what type of course and distance motivates me the most to train for. That is how I usually determine goal races.”