This past weekend I got the chance to met and race (well at lest for a few miles) Zach Bitter. Zach who in addition to having run the fastest 50 miler in the nation last year also won the Midwest North Face Challenge in 2010 and placed 2nd in 2011. I can honestly say this is a fun guy to cheer on. His passion for the sport really comes through in his dedicated outrages training schedule and sticking around hours after his race to chat it up with fellow runners. Below are a few Q&A’s about Zach’s record braking John Dick 50k (his first 50k) this past weekend and his up coming 2012 ultra races.
Zach Bitter Leaving an aid station during the Midwest Regional North Face 50 Mile with pacer Brian Finnel. In 2010 Zach won the race in 6:02 and came back the following year to place 2nd with a 6:08
This past weekend you just smashed the John Dick Memorial 50k course record by over 20 minutes setting the new mark at 3:32. Were you expecting to run such a fast time on the icy course going into the race?
To be honest with you no. I planned to treat the race as a training run. I had a total of 246 miles logged in the 13 days leading into the race, so I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel. Usually at the end of a running cycle like this my legs feel pretty heavy, but for some reason at JDM 50k I felt really smooth, so I just went with it.
Did you have any low points during the race? If so how did you pull yourself through them?
I didn’t really have any real low points. I guess the toughest part of the course for me was round four up the big hill on the out and back section of the course. My quads were burning a little more there than in other places. With tough spots like this I usually try to break the race down. I stop thinking about finishing and just focus on getting to a certain point on the course. It helps reduce becoming overwhelmed.
This years Ice Age 50 is shaping up to be quite the show down. With yourself, Timothy Olson (2012 100k USATF Champ) who is more of a pure trail / mountain runner and Matt Flaherty who seems to race just about everything distance and definitely has some leg speed with a 4:17 mile pr, 2:22:53 Marathon PR. And the list goes on from there… How do you see the race playing out?
I think the talented field will cause the race to get out fast. I see this resulting guys testing their limits and someone coming out with a spectacular time, maybe even a course record.
Now for some fun questions… Whats your favorite kind of GEL?
I like anything fruity with a pinch of caffeine
Are you growing your hair out?
As of now, yes. But I can be a bit impulsive with my hair style based on convenience.
Favorite Running Book or Movie?
I would say Born to Run is my favorite running book. I think it really captures the drive inside an ultra-runner. I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of Bryon Powell’s book, Relentless Forward Progress, which I just recently ordered.
Who’s Your Running Hero?
Roy Pirrung. He is a great story, and a timeless ultra runner who truly embraced the sport, and continues to push his limits.
In Wales there is a 22 mile race where runners go up against riders on horses back. In 2004 Huw Lobb became the first and only runner (on foot) to win the race. If we all pitched in and flew you to Wales do you think you could take down those horses for us?
Haha! I would certainly be willing to try. That sounds like an adventure impossible to turn down.
Read Zach’s Race report of the John Dick 50k and follow his running blog Here. Zach’s product Sponsors - Fuel Belt, Illuminite, Sportmulti, Feed the Machine, Vespa, and Drymax.
Door County Fall 50 - Zach Cruising to the 2011 fastest 50 miler finishing in 5:26
Interview after winning the Midwest North Face 50 in a time of 6:02