"The Runner," a new publication for jocks who are beyond jogging is:

A) The first of a series of new magazines planned by George Hirsch, publisher of New Times.

B) The latest of a series of new publications started by Robert Anderson, publisher of Runners World.

C) A slick-paper monthly magazine.

D) A twice-monthly tabloid newspaper.

E) All of the above.

The answer is E) all of the above.

At least that's the answer that will have to do until a federal judge settles a dispute between two of the best-known runners in the publishing business.

With The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx leading The New York Times non-fiction best seller list and an estimated 10 million Americans taking their track shoes seriously enough to shell out upwards of $35 for a pair of running flats, the time is ripe for a new publication devoted to running.

So Hirsch and Anderson each are starting one. Both plan to call their publication The Runner. Beyond that, and a shared penchant for running, there's little agreement between the two publishers, interviews and a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan indicate.

Hirsch, an amateur marathon participant whose magazine cosponsors the New York City Marathon, says his new publication will debut in July as a slick monthly with a projected circulation of 50,000 and a $1.25 cover price.

Hirsch claims his plans have been well known among serious run ners --mer when New Times printed a special program for the New York Marathon using the title The Runner as a prototype for the new publication.

Hirsh said New Times has already spent $45,000 preparing to launch its magazine, hiring writers, artists and photographers and having a series of nameplates designed.

Anderson, who dropped out of the University of Kansas at 19 to start Runner's World, now claims without challenge that his magazine is the bible of runners. (Joggers, he explained, "run for a reason -- to lose weight, to stay in shape. If running itself is the climax for you, I'd call you a runner."

The number of runners has grown so large, Anderson says, that even with a monthly circulation of 217,000, Runner's World can't cover the whole field. Anderson's World Publishing Co. is developing two new publications for runners. World also publishes Bicycle World, River World, Soccer World and Nordic World, the latter for cross-country skiers.

The first -- a high quality quarterly, "like The Audubon Magazine," with a $2.50 cover price --will "appeal to the elitist of the sport," and a twice-a-month tabloid "like Rolling Stone" will report the breaking news, he said in a telephone interview from his Mountain View, Calif., office.

Anderson said he first learned New Times' running magazine would have the same name as his when he read about Hirsch's plans in a publishing industry newsletter. The Gallagher Report, a few weeks ago.

The lawsuit filed against Anderson and his companies by New Times Publishing Co. charges that Andersons has known for months that The Runner would be the title of its planned rival to Runner's World.

The lawsuit accuses Anderson of "appropriating" the name as a means of "creating confusion in the running community" and "attempting to monopolize the market and to preserve the dominant position which they presently have."

Charging Anderson with infringing New Times' trademark for the title, the suit asks that Runners World be barred from publishing a publication called The Runner and seeks triple damages for any harm done already.

Runner's World has not fled its response to the charges yet. The court has not ruled yet on New Times' request for an injunction to stop publication. The first edition of Anderson's The Runner is still almost two months away.

New Times is not the first to accuse Runner's World of helping itself to a title from a rival publication.

Two months ago, Runner's World began a column called "Running Shorts," a collection of brief items about the sport.

A similar column has been running since last summer in Running Times, a magazine publish in Woodbridge, Va., by veteran runner Ed Ayres.

Ayres said he has complained about the use of the title, but has not sued because "we can't afford a legal battle with a big magazine."

Ayres' monthly is now in its second year and has, he says, a paid circulation of about 9,000. Making it "a far distant second" to Anderson magazine.

Runner's World also has come in for criticism from its competitors of its ratings of running shoes. The shoes rated best by Runner's World, they note, are sold by mail by Starting Line Sports. The nation's largest mail order dealer in running gear, starting Line is owned by Anderson.

Dismissing hirsch's suit as "publicity seeking for his magazine" and the other criticisms as "jealousy," Anderson said he is starting his second and third running publications not to freeze out competition, but "because I like to do things first class."

He does not dispute Hirsch's contention that Runner's World now controls 80 percent of the running reading market in the country.