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At last weekend’s NW Mountain Running Championships US Mountain Running Team member Joe Gray (Lakewood, WA) edged out Max King (Bend, OR) for 1st place and $800 in prize money. Before yesterday’s Xterra Trail Running National Championships Max told Joe that this would be a “rematch”. True to his name, the King (Max) reigned supreme beating not only Joe Gray but also Eugene based speedsters Ben Bruce and Ryan Bak. Lisa Goldsmith – team member in 1997 and 2006, finished 5th overall in 1:27:52. Also competing were team staff members Nancy Hobbs and Richard Bolt. Hobbs finished 2nd in the 45-49 age group in 1:39:15. Bolt finished 6th overall in 1:15:32 – 1st in the 35-39 age group. From the official press release:

BEND, OR – Several hundred athletes from 21 states gathered at the upscale Old Mill District in Bend today for the fourth annual XTERRA Trail Running National Championship on an incredibly beautiful, crisp and clear morning along the Deschutes River. Outside Magazine called this the best trail running town in America, and some of the fastest runners from around the state of Oregon and across the nation came to put its reputation to the test.

Ultimately the king of XTERRA trail running turned out to be none-other than Bend’s very own Max King. The local favorite set the standard high turning out close to five-minute miles for a winning 21km course time of 1:08:01. After just winning a six-day 125 mile race through the Rockies earlier this month and coming in second at the 2008 Northwest Mountain Running Championships last weekend, King was able to use his hometown advantage to edge out steeplechase star Ben Bruce, 26, of Eugene, Oregon by just over a minute. Ryan Bak, 27, also from Eugene and King’s teammate on the 2008 USA World Cross Country Team, took third in 1:09:41.

“When I spoke to Ryan, he said he was just coming to do the race for fun. Both he and Ben entered the race at the last minute, but I knew they would be tough competition” King said. Being from Bend, King was familiar with the course and was able to run part of the upper track last night giving him a good feel for the twists and turns. “I love to run a course with tight curves. It might be because of my low center of gravity” he joked. It was a close race for the first section, but at mile 3 Max took the lead and never looked back. When talking to Bruce and Bak, they said that as primarily track racers, “The course was more technical than they were used to. Max was able to take the sharp turns and really open up his lead.” “It’s a great course and nice to show all these runners from out of town what we have here in Bend and how you can go from this really cool downtown-type setting to forested single track in just miles,” said King. “Today was beautiful in Bend, the trails weren’t dusty, just perfect. Bend is really a great place for XTERRA to be, and I think that showed today.”

Overall Top 5 Men
Max King, 28 (Bend, OR) 1:08:01
Ben Bruce, 26 (Eugene, OR) 1:09:04
Ryan Bak, 27 (Eugene, OR) 1:09:41

Joseph Gray, 24 (Lakewood, WA) 1:13:53
Rich Skorczewski, 31 (Portland, OR) 1:15:01

In the women’s race it was marathon specialist Susannah Beck, 40, who took home the women’s top prize with her time of 1:23:07. This Eugene native “duked it out” for first place with Bend local Kami Semick, 42, who finished just 19 seconds later. These two ultra trail runners battled each other just six weeks ago at the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship in Crystal Mountain, Washington where Beck and Semick also took the first and second place respectively.

This morning, it was an all out tug of war as Beck took the lead from the start giving way to Semick at mile six, and then regaining the lead at mile ten to take the women’s title. 2008 Northwest Mountain Running Championships Lisa Nye, 40, of Bend, who was under the weather and only made it to the race by her children’s urging, came in an impressive third at 1:25:11. Runners for the championship 21km distance ranged in age from 16 to 84.

John Keston, the race’s most senior participant from Sunriver, Oregon, is originally from England and honored the event by singing a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem at the awards ceremony. “I have only been racing competitively since I was 55” said Keston after completing the event in just 2:19:16.

After a 50+ event XTERRA Trail Run Series, 22 regional champions went head to head at this morning’s race to see how they stacked up against the competition. Usually behind the scenes instead of the starting line, Philly Series race director Don Morrison said, “This was a great, fast race. The rolling hills were beautiful but not too technical. Everyone had a great time.”

Overall Top 5 Women
Susannah Beck, 40 (Eugene, OR) 1:23:07
Kami Semick, 42 (Bend, OR) 1:23:26

Lisa Nye, 40 (Bend, OR) 1:25:11

Katie Caba, 37 (Bend, OR) 1:25:18

Lisa Goldsmith, 44 (Colo Springs, CO) 1:27:52

Complete results can be found at:
http://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/nationals.html

Photos can be found at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/RichardABolt/

An article from the Bend Bulletin can be found at:
http://www.bendbulletin.com/