Central High School’s track in Phoenix, Arizona will again make history on Saturday, December 19th. Aravaipa Running is presenting the 5th edition of the Desert Solstice Track Invitational. This year’s event features 21 of the best endurance athletes in the world chasing numerous national and world records at distances ranging from 20 kilometers to 24 hours. Previous editions of this event have seen 26 national and 6 world records on this fast red 400 meter oval. The weather forecast looks ideal for runners with mostly sunny skies with a high of 67 degrees and low of 40.
Katalin Nagy, a 36 year old Hungarian turned Floridian, is the reigning 24 Hour World Champion and current 200K American Record holder. She led Team USA to the overall Team Gold in April in Italy with an astonishing 244.495 kilometers. Her goal Saturday is to break the American Record of 244.669 kilometers held by Sabrina Little. She is running strong having just won the Spartathlon in Greece in September .
Zach Bitter, 29, set an American 100 mile record of 11 hours and 47 minutes and the 12 hour world record of 163.785 kilometers on this track in 2013. He is returning this year in pursuit of the world record which stands at 11:28:03. To be successful he will have to run a 3 hour marathon pace for 12 hours straight. He currently lives and trains in California and has put in some big training weeks as of late. He was the 2014 National Champion at the 100 kilometer distance and has represented Team USA at the World Championship. In late October he ran a 50 miler in 5 hours and 17 minutes and 25 seconds to win the Road National Championship, which he also won in 2012. His 50 mile personal best of 5:12:36 was run in 2013.
Also gunning for records Saturday will be Ian Mcllvenna and Dave Carver, who are looking for Canadian masters records. Bob Hearn, Oleg Tabelev,and Ed Ettinghausen are shooting for 50-54 age group records. Joshua Finger, Adrian Stanciu, and Bob Sweeny are going after American masters age group records. Elena Makovskaya of Belarus is looking for her nation’s 24 hour record. 60 year old Mark Richtman is the oldest competitor. Local Kristina Pham is aiming for the fastest ever time run for 100 miles on a track, while Texan Melanie Rabb (Fryar) has a goal of some big miles for 24 hours.
Youngster Pete Kostelnick will have to run hard all day and night to set the American age group record for the age group 20-29. Jennifer Lockrem and Stacey Costa are looking to qualify for the 24 hour National Team. Jenny Hoffman will be down from British Columbia in pursuit of a solid performance. The event’s youngest runner is 23 year old Anthony Kunkel of Colorado. Hung K Ng of Florida and Chris Solarz of New York round out the star studded field.
Live coverage will be available through the Aravaipa Running website (www.aravaiparunning.com) and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) using the hash tag #desertsoamazlstice. Jamil Coury is Race Director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org