ASHLAND — Max King has a new entry on his running résumé: National Trail Marathon champion.

ASHLAND — Max King has a new entry on his running résumé: National Trail Marathon champion.

With only six days of rest after clocking 2 hours, 19 minutes, 11 seconds at the New York City marathon, the 29-year-old Pear Blossom record holder and former Crater High School runner triumphed Saturday at Lithia Park in Ashland over competitors from as far afield as North Carolina and New Hampshire.

"The first half was fine, but then I started to feel like last weekend — my legs were tired on (miles) 15, 16, 17 — where it's kind of flat. "¦ On the downhill my legs were bad. So I was just trying to maintain," King explained.

And maintain he did.

King led a pack of four through the first eight miles, all of which were uphill. The pack, which included Sam Robinson of Berkeley, Calif., Aaron Saft of Fletcher, N.C., and Jimmy Johnson of Salem, N.H., drifted apart when the course flattened out.

King's time of 2:40:23 Saturday in the second annual Lithia Loop Marathon was two minutes faster than the standard set last year by Jeff Caba of Bend, and two minutes and 31 seconds ahead of this year's runner-up, Sam Robinson.

USA Track & Field, the governing body of the sport, has awarded the Lithia Loop Marathon the designation of National Trail Marathon Championship race for 2009 and 2010.

The course boasts a whopping 4,700 feet of elevation gain, topping out at 5,100 above sea level near Horn Gap. The Ashland watershed course includes 21 miles of dirt roads, four miles of trails and one mile of paved roads. Though the finish-line temperatures were in the 40s, some runners reported snow flurries near the course's high spots.

The women's race was quite a different event altogether.

Near the 20-mile mark, women's leader Cynthia Arnold had an experience that would have convinced many runners to call it a day.

"I ran a little bit extra. I missed a turn. I had to turn around and go back," said the 25-year-old from Lexington, Ky., almost apologetically.

Arnold ended up running a mile more than her competition.

Undaunted, Arnold kept pushing the pace and still won the race in 3:08:42, a substantial lead of seven minutes and 32 seconds ahead of runner-up Becca Ward of Mukilteo, Wash. Ward barely beat third-place finisher Devon Crosby-Helms in a sprint to the finish.

Arnold has been running marathons for three years. Her résumé features multiple trail and road marathons, and includes the nation's toughest: Pike's Peak.

Kate Lapides of Breckenridge, Colo., is the new women's Masters champion, finishing in a time of 3:48:57. Greg McMillan of Flagstaff, Ariz., captured the men's Masters crown, finishing fourth overall, with a time of 2:54:50.

McMillan is a columnist for Running Times and a nationally recognized running coach whose athletes have competed in the last four Olympic Games.

The race was managed by the Rogue Valley Runners store in Ashland. Race co-director and store owner Hal Koerner was pleased with both the turnout — 143 finishers, up from 88 last year — and the weather.

"There was a good buzz at the start. We staffed six aid stations to help the runners. No rain and not much mud. There was only a little pooling of water on the course," Koerner said.

For King, his two marathons in the past week reveal how his running career has evolved. Even though he ran the 3,000 meter Steeplechase in the 2008 Olympic Trials, he's now thinking long.

"Next year it's going to be an ultra focus. I want to do some 50-milers and I want to do Western States (100-miler). Cross country is probably going to be my next big race, in February. I want to make it back to the World Championships," King explained.

Men's Top 10 Results

1, Max King, Bend, 29, 2:40:23; 2, Sam Robinson, Berkeley, Calif., 24, 2:42:54; 3, Aaron Saft, Fletcher, N.C., 32, 2:48:42; 4, Greg McMillan, Flagstaff, Ariz., 40, 2:54:50; 5, Jim Johnson, Salem, N.H., 32, 2:56:57; 6, Andrew Schupp, Portland, 29, 2:58:35; 7, Ben Evans, Portland, 28, 2:59:15; 8, Ian Sharman, Bend, 29, 3:00:36; 9, Nicholas Lewis, Ashland, 23, 3:00:50; 10, Dan Verrington, Bradford, Mass., 47, 3:03:10.

Women's Top 10 Results

1, Cynthia Arnold, Lexington, Ky,, 25, 3:08:42; 2, Becca Ward, Mukilteo, Wash., 33, 3:16:14; 3, Devon Crosby-Helms, Sausalito, Calif., 27, 3:16:20; 4, Krissy Moehl, Seattle, Wash., 32, 3:17:58; 5, Ellen Parker, Seattle, Wash., 32, 3:30:40; 6, Tara Crowley, Portland, 31, 3:40:27; 7, Anne Hitchcock, Auburn, Calif., 31, 3:42:11; 8, Melissa Schweisguth, Ashland, 35, 3:43:13; 9, Kate Lapides, Breckenridge, Colo., 45, 3:48:57; 10, Lindsey Diefenderfer, Bozeman, Mont., 27, 3:52:04.

For complete results, visit the Web site

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at