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Running: Max King keeps his throne in XTERRA Trail Run National Championship

Published September 23, 2012 9:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ogden • He's been dubbed "The King of Trail Running." His competitors compare him to a billy goat.

Both descriptions are fitting.

In fact, Max King conquered two mountainsides in as many days — one in Oregon and one in Utah.

Running on just four hours of sleep, King easily defended his XTERRA Trail Run National Championship title on the crimson-painted, grueling hills of the Snowbasin Resort on Sunday. He led from start to finish, completing the 21-kilometer race in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 12 seconds to earn his fifth consecutive title in the event.

Just 24 hours earlier, he was barely halfway through the USATF 50K Trail Championship in his hometown of Bend, Ore.

He won that, too.

"I just thought, 'why not?' " King said of his championship double. "I knew if I wasn't able to win, it'd be my own fault."

King left no reason to second-guess his decision.

After the race, King smiled for the camera, proudly holding the XTERRA finish line banner while relaying the exhausting story of his previous 24 hours.

"I'll tell you [how I feel] in a few hours," King said. "I don't think I'll be doing much later."

But "The King" made it look easy, leading from start to finish to easily best second-place finisher J. Marshall Thomsen, of Crested Butte, Colo., on the hilly 13.1-mile course.

Placing third was North Salt Lake resident and former University of Utah runner B.J. Christenson, who will compete in the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 13.

"I was trying to be smarter this year, to give myself a chance to catch him," Christenson said. "But [King] is just a billy goat."

And his rest will be characteristically short-lived. Next weekend, King will compete in the 100K Ultra Running Championship in Charlottesville, Va.

"I'm a bit afraid right now," King said. "But I'm looking forward to the challenge."

While King's victory was rarely in question, Ogden resident and 2008 Beijing steeplechase Olympian Lindsey Olson Anderson (1:33:23) used a late push on the final uphill stretch to edge Kerri Lyons (1:34:27), of Salt Lake City, for the women's title. Amber Moran, of Asheville, N.C., placed third in 1:38:53.

"I just kept thinking that I want that $1,000," Anderson said with a laugh.

But the cash purse wasn't her only motivation.

After the birth of her daughter last year, Anderson decided she wasn't ready to hang up her running shoes, or her Olympic dreams.

Though she only recently picked up the intensity of her training, Sunday's performance was the first step toward her goal to make it to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

"It's a good starting point," Anderson said. "I just loved every part of it."

Sunday wasn't just reserved for ultra trail runners, however. Dozens scaled the colorful hills of the resort in an open 5k and 10k race. A kids sprint event was held after the finish of the 21-kilometer race.

"There really is something for everyone here," Anderson said.

On Saturday, Snowbasin was also host to the XTERRA USA Triathlon Championship. Last year's third-place finisher Josiah Middaugh, of Colorado, posted the fastest bike split of the day and a solid 10K run to edge XTERRA mainstays Ben Allen, Conrad Stoltz and last year's winner, Nicolas Brun, in a winning time of 2:26:57.

In the women's race, Lesley Patterson, of Scotland, used a strong 10K run to pull away from Suzie Snyder and win in 2:49:09.