‘6 Days in the Dome:’ Pettit National Ice Center event draws runners from around the world

Data pix.

MILWAUKEE -- The Pettit National Ice Center has hosted many different events, but nothing quite like this.

“It’s steps," said Steve Durbin, race coordinator. "It’s all about steps."

Six Days in the Dome” drew elite long distance runners from across the globe.

“We had about 175 total, representing 36 states," said Durbin. "We had 25 runners from nine foreign countries."

The event involved several long distance races, including two 24-hour races, and a 48-hour race.

However, the main attraction was the six-day race.

Six Days in the Dome at Pettit Center

“The clock started on noon on Sunday, and it stops at 144 hours, and whatever you've done in that is what you have," said Durbin. "There is no stopping the clock once it starts."

That meant the Pettit National Ice Center was participants' home for eating, resting, and everything else.

“Some of them sleep right behind their table,” Durbin said. “They came in with crates of stuff, like they are moving in, and they were."

Connie Gardner was one of those running and living at the Pettit. She started doing elite endurance races after running marathons back to back and not seeing any improvements, but also not feeling tired.

Connie Gardner

Connie Gardner

“I started dabbling, and I did the 100, and I did really well," said Gardner. "I got lucky, and I thought, 'Oh shoot. I am good at this. I wish I was good at 5K.'"

Gardner was hoping to run 500 miles in six days, and admitted you have to be a little out there to do it.

“I'd rather be good at something that is more sane," said Gardner. "It’s a circus, OK? I'm in the circus."

Circus or not, there ere some amazing achievements taking place.

Wisconsin native Zach Bitter set a new world record in the 100-mile run at 11 hours, 19 minutes, and 11 seconds,  and the 12-hour run with over 101 miles.

Six Days in the Dome at Pettit Center

“It's been basically almost a six-year journey to try and break the 100-mile world record, and had numerous failed attempts along the way, so it feels good to get it done here in my home state, where I ran my first race,” said Bitter.

“It's all in what you want," said Durbin. "There are people that are a little more laid back and here for fun and a personal record. Then, there are others who are so serious, they don't want to give an inch, but that's cool."

There were a few racers looking to break the American record for a six-day race before the end of the event on Aug. 31 -- 606 miles.

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