Kal-Haven Trail Relay Race Recap

I had been looking forward to this race for awhile.  Not only was it my first race of 2016, I also got to run it with 5 amazing people and a great support group!  This race was also exactly 3 weeks from my first half of the year and helped me gauge how my training is working!  🙂  win-win!

This race is a 33.5 mile point to point race down the Kal-Haven Trail in Michigan.  You have options of running it solo, or in teams (anywhere from 2 person to 6).  We run as a group of 6 and represent our running/health and fitness group Chicks With Kicks.

The morning started out at 5am.  I got up double checked my bags to make sure everything I needed was packed and then I took a look outside!  I knew it was going to be cold, I didn’t know there was going to be snow on the ground.  Overnight we had an inch or two of snow fall.  This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem but it had all started to pack down and made the roads super icy and slick.  We all met at 7 am to head up to the trail head in Kalamazoo.  We got to the trail at about 8:30 and picked up our shirts and bibs.

Leg 1 Nikia 3.9 miles:

The race start for the relay was at 9am and started right on time!  The trail looked snow covered and we were told by the race officials it was slick.  We told Nikia to be careful and cheered her on as she took off for the first leg for our team!  

The rest of us got in our vehicles and headed to the start of the next leg.

Leg 2 Molly 5.7 miles:

Nikia was right on time from what we predicted and got to us looking strong.  Molly took off and we headed out also.  Nikia said the trail had been pretty snowy and there were times she had to watch her footing.  She did a great job leading us off!!

Molly came in looking great!  I later found out even with the snow (and a sore quad) she ran her leg a few minutes faster than last year!!

Leg 3 Me!  8 miles:

Next was my leg and so while Kevin drove, I changed my shoes, got my arm band for my phone out and ready, plus all the other small things to get ready.  When we got to the area for my start the guys headed in the local corner store to buy some beer for later and I headed to the one port o potty they had out.  The line was semi long and it was super nasty inside but I was glad it was there regardless or my bladder would have hated me!!  🙂

We had a little more time to kill while Molly ran since her leg was longer than the first and I tried to keep myself warm but didn’t actually run any warm up miles.  The roads were slushy and I didn’t want wet feet before I even started!  I got my phone on and couldn’t get Spotify to play at all and my phone was acting crazy due to being super cold anyway.  I just hoped while I ran it would all come together and work.  That never happened.  I ended up running music free the entire time.

coming into the finish of my leg

Molly got to us and I took off.  I had promised myself I was running based off of feel.  The trail was snow covered and I didn’t want to pressure myself with paces.  The first mile felt great!  Just before I hit the second mile I had a man pass me and I was like “oh heck no!”  I tucked myself in right behind him and let him block some of the headwind for me for the next 3 miles!  He was running a good pace for me until that point.  When we hit the 4 mile mark they had a hydration station, I grabbed a small bit of Gatorade and took off.  I left the guy behind me as he started to slow down.  It then became my goal to not let him catch me and keep passing people.  I had only been passed by 2 guys and 1 female up until this point and had passed plenty of folks.  I wanted to keep it that way!

I felt good still, not pushing too hard and working well with the trail surface changing.  It would go from completely covered in snow, to slushy, to gravel/dirt and back again.  I could tell my stabilizer muscles were working but not feeling bad at all.  I knew that in between miles 7 and 8 the trail would turn into blacktop.  I was really hoping it would be cleared off!  This would give me enough comfort to try to push the pace more until I finished.  Quick side note:  I had told the group to expect me anywhere between 1:12 and 1:20…so at around mile 6.5 I changed my Garmin to read overall time and new what I had to run to get there so it helped me push a little harder.

Just before I hit mile 7 I got passed by a guy.  I wasn’t happy and tried to hold on to him.  He was just a tad faster than what I could pull off on the snow.  When we hit the black top it was all clear and I gained a little bit back on him before finally getting to the end of my leg and sending Sarah on her way!  Total distance 8.08 in 1:12:08 (8:56 avg).

Smacking some booty (you have to physically touch your next runner)


Leg 4 Sarah 5.9 miles:

Sending Sarah on her way


Sarah took off and almost immediately sent us a message saying the trail was slushy.  😦  I was hoping that she would be lucky like me and have those sections not last too long.  We headed to the next stop and waited.  To be honest it took us longer to get to this stop than it should have.  We passed it (we did the same thing last year) and had to turn around to go back!  Ooops!

We watched for Sarah and she came in looking strong….soon Jade was on her way!!

Leg 5 Jade 6.5 miles:

Sarah sending off Jade!

Jade’s leg runs right next to the road for a short while so we had the opportunity to honk and cheer for her as we drove passed!  She had a huge smile and wave for us!  I knew she was going to do a great job!  As we waited for Jade we had an issue.  Our 6th runner wasn’t there!  She was stuck in traffic.  This forced us to put in a back up runner.

Leg 6 3.5 miles:

The final smack!

This last leg was different for us.  Since we had to make a last minute substitution we were all hoping things would work out.  We had a friend with us that just started running and we knew was capable of running that far.  So we lined him up and sent him on his way.  Then headed to the finish to wait for him to cross the line.

Our team finished at 5:10:51 for an avg pace of 9:17.  This put us a minute per mile faster than last year and we all had a ton of fun.  This is a race we will for sure be back to next year!  We have already discussed getting at least 2 adult teams and 1 teen team for our kids to run also.  

For me I am super happy with the way the day went.  I think we all had a good time, ran well and had a lot of laughs!  This is the type of event that really makes running something I crave!  The friendships you can make and people you can enjoy it with.  

Thanks to everyone that helped make the day great!

~HRM~
#irun4tiernan

Who else raced Saturday?  How was your weather?      

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6 thoughts on “Kal-Haven Trail Relay Race Recap

  1. Wow great job for the whole team. Way to get tough during your leg and battle those runners. I think it always makes the miles click off easier if you are holding off or reeling someone in. Sounds like a really fun event

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  2. Wow! You guys did REALLY well, especially considering how bad the trails were! Nice work! Quite a difference on the trail than last year. I was wondering how slick it would be! Silly April!

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