Max King knows Kualoa Ranch.
The four-time XTERRA Trail Run World Champ and five-time XTERRA Trail Run National Champ is the closest thing to a mountain goat Oahu has ever seen. In the four straight years he won the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, he won easily, covering the arduous course at Kualoa Ranch at a sub-six minute pace every year.
At 37, King is only getting faster. This year alone he won nine of the eleven races he competed in, including the FOURmidable 50K in Auburn, California, the Chuckanut 50K in Bellingham, Washington, the Horse Butte 10-miler in Bend, Oregon, and the Backcountry Rise 50K in Toutle, Washington. Next weekend, he will be competing in The North Face 50 in Marin.
In addition to his training and racing schedule, he runs the Max King Trail Running Camps for youth and adults in beautiful locations like Tahoe, California, and the mountains of northeastern Oregon.
"I really want to do XTERRA Worlds again, but it's been a long year," said King. "I'm planning on taking a break."
In the meantime, he is passing on his advice on how to conquer the only course deemed worthy for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.
Q. What is your strategy for the start? Do you focus on getting a good position before you hit the single track?
A. You always want to start out strong, but right at the beginning of the race, you go straight up a hill. You have to be careful not to start out too fast or you will blow up by mile five.
Q. How do you race the first third of the race, before you begin to climb?
A. You have some time on the dirt road to get your rhythm going, but you have to chill on that first single track section because the race is just getting going. Depending on the weather, that section could be wet, so it's important to focus on your footing.
Q. What about that hill?
A. After you round the bend into Kualoa Ranch and you're on the roads overlooking the water, it's really just about maintaining a good solid effort until you get to the hill at mile nine. At that point you might as well give it all you've got to get up that.
Q. How about getting down?
A. After the hill, it's a quick technical downhill recovery. Then it's just survival along the single track to the finish. That's how I've always raced it.