2015 Haven-Kal-Haven – CHECK!

With the Kal-Haven Trail Race date being pushed out a bit later this spring it seemed like a perfect opportunity to target a Haven-Kal-Haven Trail Run…aka #redemption time! I tried this adventure last year (read about it here) but unfortunately had to throw in the towel around mile 56 due to a buckled knee.

2015 Redemption

With my training in line with the Burning River 100 in late July, this adventure would be a good check point to see where I was at physically, mentally and use of my nutrition. This year Peter (another local area ultra runner guru) wanted to join me on the adventure. Woohoo, the participation level of this challenge just doubled from last year.

Kal-Haven Trail Background

The Kal-Haven trail is from Kalamazoo to South Haven, MI on a crushed lime stone rail trail. The distance is 34 miles even though the trail is marked for 33.5. Just ask any Kal-Haven finisher, they’ll let you know that extra .5 just made it easier. This is an old railroad track so it’s straight and flat. Flat, FLAT. Did you get that it was flat? The effort of completing this takes more mental well than anything else as you’re basically staring down a long, long tunnel. No switch backs, no hills, no trees to jump over. It’s mans attempt to make a long outdoor treadmill. Sounds fun, eh?


Plans Set, Time to Roll Out…at 1:30am

This year I looked to roll out at 1:30am Saturday morning as I wanted the extra time to get there for any hurdles or issues that could arise. Last year I arrived just after 8am (the start of the Kal-Haven) and felt rushed and tried to get caught up with the pack of runners. So after we dropped one car off at trail head in Kalamazoo, we headed over to South Haven. On the way I kept thinking to myself of why on earth are we running back to the start when I could be sleeping. Honestly I don’t know why I pick these challenges but then that voice in my head says ‘why not’.

Kalamazoo here we Come!

The run back to Kalamazoo (34 miles) is not supported with anything nor from anyone except for whatever we pack on our backs. For myself I geared up with the following:

  • Saucony Kinvara 5 RunShield shoes
  • Wrightsocks Dual layer socks
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters
  • Sugoi Titan Shorts
  • EPIC Crew Brooks long sleeve tech shirt
  • Ultimate Direction SJ Vest
  • INKnBURN Headband
  • Dual layer of gloves – cheap $1 knit gloves and Saucony mittens
  • Headlamp – Princeton Tec Apex Pro
  • Garmin 910xt watch
  • Nutrition – 4 ‘sticks’ of Tailwind Nutrition mixed in with 90oz of water – I used 2 Naked packs and 2 Mandarin Orange – total of 800 calories

You couldn’t ask for a better night of running. Crystal clear sky, mid 30 degree temps and no wind. As we were trekking our way east we started to see the moon rise on the horizon.


Say cheese!

You could tell that Peter and I were a bit tired as I think we said about two sentences the entire run during the night. We didn’t have our headphones on so it was just the sound of our foot strikes on the trail. And yes, the occasional dog barking as we past several residences along the trail. Throughout the night we incorporated some half mile to one mile walk breaks. And every now and then some stretching and lunges.


SWAT instructors Marta, Jessica & Jill would be proud. Lunges on the trail in the middle of the night, why not!


I did appreciate the stocked toilet paper in the bathrooms along the trail.

Rolling into Kalamazoo

After a fun night of running it was great to begin to see color on the horizon as the sun started to come out. As we rolled into the trail head Terry gave us a good morning on the overhead that accompanied many cheers from the other runners gearing up to head out. We rolled in around 7:40am. Perfect timing as we had until 8am to head back out again with the rest of the runners. After some high fives with several friends it was time to take the 20 minutes to change out gear and suit back up for the return trip.

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

EPIC Crew shirt was a must for the first half. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Peter and I rolling in half way through our adventure. 34 miles at this point. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Tail gates are great for changing shoes out. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Photo credit to Mike Peterson

With a change of shoes, socks, shirt and a new vest with a 50oz of fluid (planned on using the aid stations as water refuel if needed) it was time to toe the line (again). A buddy of mine makes some awesome burritos that I have been using on some training runs during the winter and he handed me a few before we took off. I eat about half of one on our way out. Delicious!

Gear for the second half

  • Changed out shoes and socks (same type of shoes/socks)
  • Different INKnBURN headband
  • INKnBURN Run or Die Tech Shirt
  • Red Ultimate Direction SJ Vest with a 50oz Camelbak bladder
  • Arm sleeves
  • Nutrition
    • Half of a Cara Cara orange
    • Tailwind Nutrition – 3 packs in the 50oz bladder of water – 1 pack of Lemon (200 cals) and 2 packs of Caffeinated Raspberry Buzz  (400 cals)
    • Half of a Breakfast cheese/bean burrito
2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Photo credit to Mike Peterson


2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Breakfast at 8am just after running 34 miles probably says no one ever. Until now. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

From here on out I knew my pace would probably fall off a bit compared to the first half but as long as I could keep at least a 10:00 or under pace I would be fine in regards to time. Again this is just an adventure run with no means of taking on a time challenge. Heck if even I fell under the race time limit I didn’t care as I was in it to complete it.

As I began to get back into a pace rhythm it was fun to chat with other runners and hearing about some of them that were running this as their first ultra distance. Heck there were some that were running this and they haven’t even ran a marathon yet. #AWESOME

As we moved closer to Gobles (47 miles in) Peter started showing signs of some stomach problems. We took some walks to see if the pace would help settle his stomach. It seemed to help for some time but as we rolled closer to Bloomingdale (around 52 miles in) his stomach conditions were not improving. At that point I knew we had to make that call that I truthfully hate to make. I know he truly wanted to finish the 68 miles for #TeamSam but the day just wasn’t the day for him. The thing with ultra running is that there are so many variables that can go with you or against you at any point. ***Fast forward to today (day after the event) Peter went out and ran a solid 16 miler for #TeamSam. I’m so proud and thankful for a friend that has the passion but also the smarts to know when it’s right to continue and when it’s safe to call it and try another day.***

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Coming into Bloomingdale – 52 miles in – about mid 8 hours into our adventure. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Love my INKnBURN shirt. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

That moment when you know what he’s thinking and feeling and there is nothing you can do except finish what we started out for. Photo credit to Mike Peterson.

From here on out I focused on making it to the spot I had to call it last year (mile 56.78). As I rolled closer to that location I could feel the thrill of knowing that I was going to pass it. I didn’t even think of the 68 miles as I was so focused on that one extra step farther than I did last year. As soon as I rolled past I was ecstatic to the point I’m sure I yelled out BOOM! The next couple miles were filled with emotion of excitement and some air guitar gestures.

Soon the excitement wore off as the arch of my left foot started to cramp up. I found that if I walked it cramped, if I shuffled a pace (<11:00) it cramped, if I ran faster than 9:15 it cramped. So I found that if I could stay between 9:30 to 10:00 it was fine. Along the trail there are sections of horse trails that run adjacent to the main trail. I took those a couple of times in hopes that the ground surface and branches/tree stumps jumping would force me to move my feet a bit different. Well it worked for a while but then portions of the horse trails were submerged under water. So back to the main trail it was. During this time I also took some Motrin and a couple S-Caps in hopes that it would help.

While keeping the 9:30 pace I was able to spot some familiar runners up ahead. Around mile 60 or so I was able to meet up with Laura and Joe. Laura was on her way to completing her first farthest run she has ever completed and Joe was there to help her to the finish. It was fun to listen to their stories and jokes. I decided then I was staying with them and we’d finish this day out together. I’m so glad I decided to stick with them as Joe was making us laugh with his stories of IRONMAN training and post race celebrations.



Kneeling down for this race poster selfie was the hardest part. Ouch!


Joe also takes pretty good photos while on the run!

As we approached that last aid station (around mile 64) a friend was there handing out Jell-O shots. Yes Please!!!  Have to say, two Jell-O shots does help distract the cramping foot pain. 🙂


Thank you Carla!!!

Laura trekking down the path of finishing her longest run and I getting redemption from the prior year along with completing a bucket list adventure. These four miles were ours!

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Sitting back and witnessing someone accomplish a personal goal is amazing. Congrats Laura!!! Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

68 miles CHECK! Photo credit to Mike Peterson

68 miles completed! Overall time that it took me was around 11:45 and some change. I believe only one other person that I know of has successfully completed the out-n-back by foot. I know that I PRed that day and first overall and first in age group. 😉 Heck even a master’s division win.

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

33.5 x 2 + 1 = 68 mile finisher. Photo credit to Mike Peterson

2015 Kal-Haven Trail Run

Terry Hutchins puts on a great event. Thanks Terry! Photo credit to Mike Peterson

What’s Next

For now it’s keeping the training schedule on focus. Sure there will be some races thrown in there but they are not target races so those will be treated as feel. I am looking to run the Running Fit Trail Marathon 50k in a couple of weeks. I’m really excited to run the Kalamazoo Half Marathon and then looping back to find my dad as he is walking the Kalamazoo Half Marathon. Plus I can’t forget the fun times up at Yankee Springs Trail Run for the 3 day ultra challenge. I wonder if Max well return and take on the real challenge. From there on its fine tuning and more Burning River course analysis prep work.


A big part of the success of this past week’s adventure comes from the HUUGE support of #TeamSam. If you are wondering who #TeamSam is check us out at www.crowdrise.com/vanloorunningbr100


11 Comments on “2015 Haven-Kal-Haven – CHECK!

  1. Hi Scott! Congratulations on your finish! My friend, Kim, and I chatted with you and Peter a bit during the early miles (haha, early for us anyways!) of the race (about Dirty Girl gaiters and ultra running) and we were really inspired by your efforts and positive attitude! Good luck on your upcoming 100s!

  2. Great job Scott! A few days later and you must still be on cloud 9. I like to think that I have mastered the marathon distance but I know I would not have a clue of how to tackle an ultra. All of you ultra gurus amaze me. I know Peter and used to run with him quite a bit. I wish he could have finished with you but agree he was wise to call it a day. I passed both of you a few miles from Bloomingdale on my short 8 mile leg. I had no idea at the time that both of you were doing the trail twice. Both of you looked great at that point. Best of luck with your next challenge.

  3. Scott
    I’m not sure if Peter told you but our youngest son was diagnosed with Crohns when he was 15. We remember the battle to get diagnosed properly then to figure out the best avenue to stability. As with your ultra training what works for one may not work for another. We will be back in the Kalamazoo Area from April 17 to 29 if you would like to meet up and talk through the many “adventures” we have had with Crohns. We will lift Sam and your family up in our prayers.

    • Yes he and my parents have mentioned you and your son. I think we are rolling for an easy lap up at Yankee Springs this Saturday and you’re welcome to join us if you’re around. We can chat then. Good to hear from you Marty. Hope all is well.

  4. Scott
    About two years ago I ran with you for about 5 miles on a training run and you chatted about the 100 mile race. Those 5 miles have stuck with me for a long time. In the past 12 months I’ve gone through a very challenging time in my life and just 3 weeks ago finally started to run again (been off for a year). This past week I followed your adventure on instagram and now here. I hope tonight to be able to finish 6 miles, my longest run in a year. I just want you to know that no matter the cause there will always be someone watching and looking up for inspiration and strength. If they are battling a disease or just mental road blocks to pushing themselves, having someone that continues to inspire is a great thing! Thank you for all you put out there so those of us who want to can continue to know that we are able to push our bodies and minds forward.

    • Eric, you are a rock star! First, thank you for the kind words and also for bringing a tear to my eye (plus my wife’s after I read your comment to her). Secondly, I’m so proud to hear that you are taking that next step of continuing to move forward and moving past the challenges you have faced. Life can be hard at times and there is no way of ignoring it but it’s how we accept these challenges. ‘Can do’ attitude is the key. It’s what drives me to move past that dark hour of a long run. Keep in touch and let me know how you’re coming along with your running. Take care! -Scott

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