It has been 722 days since I started posting my daily photos on the I LOVE BEND OR Facebook page. I have discovered Bend is full of amazing people with inspiring stories that need to be shared. In the months to come, I plan to photograph and share some of these people and their stories so you can be inspired and proud of who lives in the town we all love and call Bend.
I am excited to share my first post in the series “Inspirational People of I Love Bend, OR”.
Max is a cross country, marathon and ultra runner – basically this means he is really crazy! For him an easy training run is anywhere between 8 and 30 miles. Max competes both nationally and internationally and is sponsored by Montrail and Mountain Hardware, so he doesn’t have a problem looking cool and colorful while running.
Max loves to give back through teaching others what he knows and does best. When he is not running or being a husband and dad you can find him working at FootZone in downtown Bend.
He is highly respected in our community and inspires runners on all levels. I think Max might be our modern Forest Gump – Run Max Run…
Do check out Max’s blog and see all his accomplishments, there are too many to list! – Max King’s Blog
Thank you Max for doing what you are passionate about and for inspiring others.
Here is what Max has to say :
Running Through the Woods.
As long as I can remember I’ve been running through the woods. Making forts, playing hide and seek, and carrying around sticks that I could pretend were weapons for fighting off the enemy doesn’t happen much any more, but the most basic activity of running, jumping, climbing, and descending are what I’ve been able to call my career. And while professional may be a loose term when you’re talking about trail running, it, non-the-less is what I do, and man, do I love my job.
I’m a native Oregonian as far as I’m concerned. I came to Oregon when I was 6 and grew up in the woods outside Grants Pass. It couldn’t have been a more perfect childhood. I spent summers in Sacramento in what I like to consider my “heat acclimation” periods. I still run well in the heat and so I attribute part of my success to my summers baking in the heat doing asphalt sealing with my Dad.
I landed in Bend after a university summer internship at Bend Research led to a full time position and the outdoors opportunities called to me. Living on the East Coast where I went to school just wasn’t an option I would be willing to live with and the suburbs of Seattle just didn’t the beckoning call of the wild, so I had to “settle” for Bend. Poor me.
After college, Bend allowed me to try some new sports that only a place like Bend would. There was an Adventure Racing club in town, so I did that for a couple seasons, I got into off-road triathlons, I swam, I attempted to skate ski, I climbed mountains, I mountain biked, a lot. But through all that adventure there was just one thing that continued to call to me that all of the other sports couldn’t quell. It was running, and not just running but the competition of running and the simplistic natural movement that we were meant to do.
I missed competitive running and racing. It eventually drew me back in and when it did I was hooked. My hiatus from running came after burnout from my college career sent me into that dark place where no competitor wants to go. The “I’m only doing this because I have to but I don’t really want to be here” place. So, when I got back into running again I vowed to only do it as long as I was having fun.
Of course, success breeds enjoyment so it was pretty easy to stay excited about my next race and continue training hard when I continued to improve and post results that exceeded my wildest dreams. One of my biggest lifetime goals was to make a US Cross Country team and compete at the World Championships. I achieved that goal in only my second year back to full training.
It’s hard to believe, but that was now 7 years ago, and I’m still having fun, even more fun than I was then. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, and as any businessman knows, enjoying what you’re doing will always breed success. I’m now transitioning from the track and road, to more off-road racing like cross country, trail races and ultra running. And while I’ve enjoyed my time running the steeplechase and road races, the prospect of finding new trails and new challenges in the terrain of ultras has me more excited than ever to get out the door in my running shoes each and every morning.
It used to be that I lived for the competition and the daily training was just the vehicle to being competitive, but as I’ve moved to trail races I get to be that kid running through the woods again much more often. Isn’t it cool that jumping logs, flying down hills, or climbing to the top of the Cascades is training, it’s what I need to do to be successful in my job. That’s what I love about Bend. It’s such an easy place to do just that. The massive amount of public land surrounding town with trails in every direction right from my doorstep really makes it easy to get out the door and to enjoy my time outside. The people of Bend are supportive of athletic pursuits and put a value on doing something you enjoy doing.
I still have those days where it’s a challenge to get out the door, winter isn’t always the most motivating conditions to run in, but on days like that I think about how the work in the winter will put me in a position to be better than I was last year. I use many of my easy long runs through the woods for mental visualization to race better and plan out how to beat guys that have eluded me in the past.
Now, I know that doesn’t sound like everybody’s ideal dream job, and that’s the point. It’s about finding something you’re good at, turning it into a passion, persevering through some ups and downs, and then you’ll be successful.
I’m one lucky dude.