Runner sprints to the summit of Mt. Shasta and back - all before lunch

Contributed by Jack Moore
Max King of Bend, Ore. climbed from the National Guard Armory building in Mount Shasta City to the summit of the mountain and back in five and a half hours last week.

Last week, accomplished runner Max King set off on foot from the City of Mount Shasta (elevation 3,500 feet) and climbed to the summit of Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,179 feet) before descending back to town in the astounding time of only five and a half hours.

King is a runner who has achieved success in every kind of foot race imaginable. Hailing from Bend, Ore., he was a college track champion at Cornell University and since has competed in steeplechases, the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials, won the mountain running world championship as well as four straight XTERRA Trail Run world titles, competed in the cross-country World Championships and logged numerous top 10 finishes in national road championships. He is sponsored by several outdoor companies and helps organize the annual Bend Marathon.

He’s also a really nice, humble and happy guy who’s married, has two kids and boasts a chemical engineering degree.

Starting from The Mt. Shasta National Guard Armory at 7:10 a.m., he ascended the historic Sisson Southern trail from the Gateway Trailhead to Sand Flat and arrived at Horse Camp (elevation 8,000 feet) an hour and a half later.

Pausing only briefly there for a sip of spring water, he continued to the summit of Mt. Shasta, reaching it in another two hours. He snapped a picture, took a quick look around and descended back to town, arriving two hours later and just in time for lunch.

King ascended more than 10,500 vertical feet (two vertical miles) in less than 3 and a half hours. This translates to a gain of 3,000 vertical feet per hour – roughly triple the pace of most Mt. Shasta climbers.

The route he followed also represents one of the greatest vertical gains over the shortest distance (11.5 miles each way) of any climb in the continental United States.

Historically, most climbers take two days to summit the mountain, even though they start from a higher elevation (7,000 feet) and travel a shorter distance (four to five miles each way).

Although there is no known record to compare to King’s pace from town to the summit and back, it no doubt sets a high standard that others will be hard-pressed to follow, much less match.

If anyone is interested in taking a shot at King’s record, here’s a tip – he is slated to conduct two trail running camps in Mt. Shasta this summer. For details, go to, then start warming up your running shoes to follow in the footsteps of this running legend.