SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (April 5, 2014) – Only three miles from the 33.5 mile finish line, Kal-Haven Trail Ultra Trail Run winner, Kyle Kiel, looks strong and smiles.
“It seems like the first five miles is like a warm-up and you automatically think about giving up, because you never know how your body is going to react. Then half way through it, your body starts to get used to the miles you’re putting in and you loosen up,” explained Kiel.
Crossing the line at three hours and 52 minutes, Kiel ran just under a 7-minute-mile pace. He says this is training for the Boston Marathon just two weeks away, and then a 100-mile race in Vermont.
“In ultra you’re going about a minute-a-mile slower, so it’s comfortable: you can even talk and you can have fun with it; a marathon you’re cruising the whole time,” said Kiel.
Race organizers say 525 runners ran the Kal-Haven Trail Saturday in one of three races: the Ultra Trail Run, the Two-Person Relay or the Three-Six-Person Relay.
“I’ve been running on it for years, and biking on it for years, and it’s a great asset to southwestern Michigan,” said Terry Hutchins, race director.
Some runners finished with their family in tow, while others raced against the clock.
“We came real close today, we were about 30 seconds off but I think the patches of ice on the course probably slowed us down,” said Brian Reynolds, who took first place in the two-person relay race with his partner.
All runners crossed the finish line in hopes of instilling the love of the sport in a younger generation: they raised money for two organizations: the Girls on Track Program in Kalamazoo, for sixth through eighth grade girls, and the Girls on the Run, for third through fifth grade girls.
“I started when I was in high school: it’s just years and years of miles. Being able to do that just motivates you to push yourself to set a better race time, a higher goal,” said Robby Hass, who took first place in the two-person relay race with Reynolds.
It’s a race that comes full circle; crossing the finish line to help push future runners to the start.
Race organizers say in just the last few years, the Kal-Haven Trail races have raised more than $20,000 for the Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs in Kalamazoo.
For finish times or other information, see the Kal-Haven Trail Run website.