Lindbergh High School’s Max Ferguson wins Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series

August 14, 2012

By Matt Carstens

Skyline High School’s Keegan Symmes finishes second

Marlene Farrell, of Leavenworth, runs toward the finish line to post her winning time for women on the 13-mile course with a time of 1 hour, 56 minutes, 9 seconds. By Greg Farrar

People take interest in running for a lot of reasons. They do it for the health benefits, the stress relief and even the runner’s high. But for Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series 13 Mile winner Max Ferguson, he had only one thing in mind.

The ladies.

“I guess I started in eighth grade because I wanted to be better at the mile in P.E.,” Ferguson said. “I thought that me being better at the P.E. mile would help me do better with the ladies than I was doing at the time.”

Ferguson attended Lindbergh High School where he ran as a member of the cross-country team. After going to college on the East Coast, Ferguson returned home and, like a certain Tom Hanks character, kept running.

“I’ve spent the past three years running half-trail, half-marathons,” he said. “I’m leaning more towards trails for the next couple years until the Olympic trials come back. And then I’ll probably try my hands at marathons a couple more times.”

For Ferguson, the biggest difference between running marathons and trails is all in the mental approach.

“With a lot a trail-running you have to be mentally OK with having to walk for a section and having that not completely destroy you,” he said.

“With marathons generally it’s just held on the roads and you run as fast as you can, and if you walk, that’s considered somewhat of a failure,” he added. “But with trail running, there are a lot of sections of that race that I ran that I walked. I got to it and said, ‘This is really steep. I could run this and completely destroy my legs, or I could walk and run much faster afterwards.’”

That approach worked well for the 26-year-old, who finished first with a time of 1:37:36, beating second-place finisher and Skyline High School student Keegan Symmes by three minutes.

Ferguson has done a few other trail runs in the past, but never the whole series in the same season.

“I did the 5 and the 8 last year and I’ve done the 13 many years ago,” he said. “I haven’t done all of them all at once, but I’ve done all of them over the years. I’ve just never had a stretch of time without races long enough for them to match up perfectly with my weekends.”

As for the future, Ferguson isn’t quite sure whether he’ll take on the grand finale of the series.

“I might do the 20-miler,” he said. “I’m on the SRC cross country team so I’ll probably be doing some cross country races and there’s a couple big, long mountain races that I’ll be doing between now and December.”

On the women’s side, Marlene Farrell, of Leavenworth, finished first with a time of 1:56:09. She was followed by Trisha Steidl and Mona Deprey with times of 2:01:23 and 2:12:07, respectively.

After running director and Seattle Running Co. owner Scott McCoubrey packed up and moved to Idaho, Eric Bone took over the reigns and is pleased with the results in his first season as director of the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series.

“It’s going well,” he said. “We’ve been working with the North Face in addition to Scott Sports, which is the title sponsor. We just continue to get healthy turnouts. People really enjoy the series. From our perspective, it’s been very successful.”

Bone said in addition to the great turnouts, the partnership with King County Parks is another plus. Fifteen dollars of each entry fee is donated to the parks along with more than 150 hours of volunteer work from the Seattle Running Club.

Even though each race is a little bit longer than the last, Bone said that they are mostly the same layout, except for the monster 20-mile finale, which incorporates Cougar Mountain and Squak Mountain.

“The course flow is very similar from race to race, and each race essentially adds on an additional trail to get the added length,” Bone said. “The 8-mile is just the 5-mile with an additional loop, similarly with the 10-mile. There’s a couple of little variations actually, but essentially it’s just adding on an additional trail to get the longer distance. The 50K is actually a different animal. It’s so long we have to use a lot more trails to get that distance.”

The 50K and 20-mile race isn’t until Oct. 28, so runners have a bit of a break until they have to conquer the climax of the summer.

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