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King of Runners: A conversation with Bend's own Max King 

click to enlarge Max King competing in the 2008 Oregon Relays
  • Max King competing in the 2008 Oregon Relays
Max King competing in the 2008 Oregon RelaysMax King

Max King's running resume spills onto a second page as he quietly continues to rack up national level finishes, World XC Championship team selections, and impressive steeple chase finishes across the country and around the globe. Two main goals he's been working toward are qualifying for the 2008 World XC team and for the 2008 Olympic Games in the 3000 meter steeplechase. King checked off his first goal in February, finishing seventh in the senior men's 12 km race at the National XC Championships in San Diego. This earned him a spot on the World XC team and a trip to Scotland in March to compete against the World's best runners from 78 countries. King finished 55th overall in the 12 km race, crossing the line as the fifth of nine American racers. King also traveled to Japan in 2006 to race on the World XC Championship team.

Max began competing in the steeplechase in college. He graduated from Cornell University and was an All-American in the 3000 meter steeplechase in 2002 by finishing ninth in the NCAA Div. I National Championships. Even more impressive, Max competed at this level while completing a degree in Chemical Engineering. He worked full time as a research chemical engineer at Bend Research, Inc. out of college and took a couple years off of competing in track. After missing the competition, he started jumping back in post collegiate races. He has worked part-time the past two years at Bend Research while working full-time on steeplechase.

I convinced Max to stop running this past week for a brief moment to answer a few questions.

Tell me more about the steeplechase?

The 3000 meter steeplechase loops around a short course covering seven and a half laps. There are four regular hurdles per lap and one water jump. Typically, racers land in about six inches of water. We wear thinly soled shoes with a light mesh upper and no socks. The goal is for very little water to be retained on your feet after landing the water jump.

What have you been doing to prepare for the Olympic qualifier?

I have been training with a program in Eugene for the past year called the Oregon Track Club - Elite. We are sponsored by Nike and have 25 members, most of which are middle distance (800 meter and 1500 meter) racers. I have two coaches; Frank Gagliano, the head coach for the OTC, and Mike Manley, my steeplechase coach. There are three other steeple chasers on the team and we are all very closely matched. The four of us are ranked in the top 12 nationally. We train together and push each other while living in the same apartment complex.

Are you using any new/innovative training techniques?

As a general rule, we are training by pretty standard methods. In the fall season, we built base by getting in a bunch of miles at a moderate pace. Our harder workouts involved longer intervals at or below lactate threshold [the transition point between aerobic and anaerobic respiration]. We did several hill workouts and a bunch of tempo training. As we moved into spring, the workouts were shorter and harder. Our intervals were done at a faster pace while decreasing our total training volume. The most important thing for me is to keep it fun and interesting. I try to cross-train to mix it up and work different muscle groups with swimming and biking. This also is a good way to get in more aerobic volume while staying off the legs.

What is the Olympic qualifying process?

The first round of the steeplechase qualifier takes place on July 3 in Eugene. I will be one of 24 racers gunning for the final round. On July 5, the top 12 racers from the first round compete for three Olympic spots.

How have your races been going this year?

A month ago I won a steeplechase race in Oregon and felt really strong. The next week, I competed in a race at Stanford and finished in 11th feeling pretty tired. I have been training so much, I think that I was just tired during that race.

Max - know that the Bend and greater Oregon athletic communities will be cheering you on and helping you clear that last hurdle on July 5th. Max King is an incredibly hard-working, humble, down-to-earth person with a good chance at making the 2008 Olympic team. Good Luck!

Spring Fling

The Spring Fling Mountain Bike trail work party is coming up on Saturday, June 9. Meet at WebCyclery at 8am and enjoy a barbecue after lending a helping hand.


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