King, 30, won the XTERRA Trail title for the third consecutive year, completing the 13.9-mile course in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 57 seconds. The Bend resident used his knowledge of the course to break away from the field late in the race.
"When you have good competition and you pull out a win like that, it always feels good, mentally and physically," said King. "I tried to be relaxed in the first half of the race and see if I could open it up in the second half to get the win, and that's what I did. It wasn't easy. This was a very difficult win for me."
Lauren Fleshman (left, XTERRA), who is from Eugene, Ore., also relied on a late surge to defend the women's national crown. Fleshman, 29, finished 10th overall in 1:24:24.
King's third consecutive XTERRA National Championship victory was his closest. Fellow Oregonian Greg Mitchell and California's Mario Mendoza pushed King the entire route.
Mitchell, 37, who is from McMinnville, finished runner-up in 1:16:52. The 55-second margin was the nearest any runner has come to King at the XTERRA National Championship in the past three years. Mitchell had the lead for the first half of the race, but King passed him during a flat section along the Deschutes River with around three miles to go.
"The first half of the race I felt pretty strong so I pushed it," said Mitchell. "Then somewhere along the river, Max just came on by like it was nobody's business."
Mitchell is an experienced distance runner, but was making his first appearance at the XTERRA Nationals.
"You kind of figure that Max is on a different level, but you never know," Mitchell said. "It was fun to be right there with him most of the way in a race like this."
Mendoza, who is from Cambria, Calif., also held the lead for a brief stretch before placing third in 1:17:16 and was also racing for the first time in Bend, but it won't be his last. He plans to move there next month to train on the numerous running trails. He said he will even seek the advice of King.
"Now I'm convinced that moving to Bend is the best decision as far as my running is concerned," Mendoza said. "This was a great race, great course, and a chance to train with Max … that just adds to it."
The women's race was supposed to be close, but Fleshman, the 2010 USA 5000m champion, turned it into a runaway in the final miles. For most of the race before that, the Stanford grad and Michele Suszek of Colorado stayed near each other.
"I just tried to keep pace," Fleshman said. "Then probably with around 5 (kilometers) left, I really picked up the pace to make it uncomfortable for the other girls in the race. My specialty is 5K, so once I knew there was 5K left, I felt comfortable picking it up."
Suszek, who was racing in Bend for the first time, finished second in 1:26:40.
"She was right behind me, then she got ahead at the 10-mile mark," Suszek said of Fleshman. "Then we hit the flat stuff and she was gone. I tried, but she's really fast."
Suszek, 28, was also fast as she finished more than two minutes ahead of third place Mary Colburn (1:29:18) of Culver City, Calif.
King and Fleshman each received $1000 and roundtrip airfares to Hawaii courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines. They can use the airfares to compete at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii, on Dec. 5.
In addition to the overall titles, 24 age group national champions were also crowned. Top Masters (40 and over) were Tim Van Orden, 42, from Bennington, Vt. and Kami Semick, 44, Bend in 1:20:08 and 1:32:07 respectively. Zoe Allen, who is 7 and the youngest runner to ever compete in the XTERRA Nationals, finished in 3:03:37 to win the female 9-younger division. Zoe, who is from Hillsboro, Ore., ran the course with her mother, Tara.
Runners (besides King) to win age group titles for the third consecutive year were Don Hildebrand (men 75-79), Katie Caba (women 35-39) and Jessie Stratton (women 65-69).
In addition to the 21-kilometer championship, there were also separate 5K and 10K races. Fourteen-year-old Piper McDonald won the XTERRA Bend 5K for the second year in a row, and this time she took the overall victory as well. The future running star from Bend turned in an 18:52, which was 45 seconds ahead of runner-up and men's winner Danny Harris, also of Bend. In the 10K another Bendite, Zach Rowland, 20, won the men's race in 37:05, while 23-year-old Adrienne Nova of Kirkland, Wash. won the women's race in 40:18.
6th XTERRA Trail Running National Championship
Bend, OR, Saturday, September 18, 2010
1) Max King (OR), 1:15:57, $1000
2) Greg Mitchell (OR), 1:16:52, $600
3) Mario Mendoza (OR), 1:17:16, $400
4) Kalpanatit Broderick (OR), 1:18:58, $300
5) Tyler Davis (OR), 1:19:50, $200
1) Lauren Fleshman (OR), 1:24:24, $1000
2) Michele Suszek (CO), 1:26:40, $600
3) Mary Colburn (CA), 1:29:18, $400
4) Sopagna Eap (OR), 1:30:41, $300
5) Kami Semick, 44, OR, 1:32:07, $200
Deeper results and more at: www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/nationals.html