Kehei to the Lava Fields Run


While this might not be a race or really anything different than I do most Sunday afternoons, I do think it was an interesting run. For this reason, I thought I would include it on my adventure page. Melissa and I went to Maui, Hawaii on vacation, and I kept up my running schedule while there. We were staying with family on the beach in Kehei. My Sunday long run called for a 20 miler and there really are few good running areas in Kehei for that type of distance. Inevitably, I would have to run on crowded streets and sidewalks if I went north or on less crowded streets and sidewalks if I went south. I decided to go south knowing that I may not be able to get my full distance in, but I should get close. What is a mile or two any ways? I am on vacation. =)

View from Makena

I decided to take off on my run after lunch for two reasons. First, it was when most of my family would either nap or just chill out so it fit better than the morning. Second, the warmer temperature and higher sun would be a good test for my warm-weather gear. Sunday was much like every other day in Hawaii; temperatures were in the low 80s and so was the humidity. There were some clouds in the sky and a 10-15 mph breeze down by the water. I had lunch about 45 minutes before my run and was going to carry 70 ounces of water with an extra 20-ounce bottle of Gu Roctane Drink. With a couple of extra gels in hand I was ready to go. One drawback form a long run a week earlier that I did in my Merrell True Gloves is I bruised the outside of my left foot. It was getting better by this point, but I was a bit nervous of how it would hold up for the run. Not to mention that all I brought to Hawaii was minimalist footwear, so I would be doing this run in my Skora Base Shoes.

Road along the Water’s Edge

The run starts out along the busy main street outside our condo complex. After a short bit along the shoulder, you enter Wailea and their sidewalks. The road through Wailea is slightly up to the volcano, so there is less wind and a bit more rolling terrain. The road goes along the championship golf courses, the Wailea mall, and several of the Wailea Resorts. As compared to running in the morning, my afternoon runs were much less crowded. Maybe just a few walkers out but nothing compared to the mornings. Within the first three miles, my calves were already tight, and I was sweating a lot. The combination of heat, humidity, and sunscreen seems to make me sweat more than I expect to. Over the first three miles, there is not a whole lot to look at, just passing cars and resorts. Eventually, the road gets through Wailea and starts to enter Makena. Makena is much quieter than Wailea with some private residences, and one golf course and resort. The sidewalk through this area also has occasional views out to the water where you can see Molikini, Kahoolawe, and West Maui while running. This view helps take the focus off the running and give a bit more of a peaceful feeling as compared to the earlier section.

Road Through the Lava Flow

At mile five the sidewalk ends and the road leaves the resorts behind. Here, you start to approach some of the larger public beaches of Makena. I now had to begin to chare the road with the oncoming traffic which basically meant running in the gravel when cars approached. The road is not that wide, and I am not really that trusting of tourists or young locals driving skills. Along this section of the road, there is also several roadside stands and even couple food trucks. Most are touting things like ice cold coconuts, frozen chocolate-covered bananas, and shaved ice. All this sounds really good at this time as I am definitely running hot. Running along the road down near the beaches is a bit of chaos. There are cars lining both sides of the road and more trying to get through. Fortunately, all the traffic is slow, and I could meander through fairly well. At this point, I also started to notice that every car looks the same. It is kind of funny as there are several models of cars and colors that are rented to tourists so you just see these same cars repeatedly.

Path Through the Lava

After getting past the beaches the road becomes a 1 ½ lane road. It wanders by some residences and along the water in sections. These sections of beach are mostly rock with some little sandy areas. The water is a beautiful turquoise so when there are no cars to dodge I often stare out into the water. Traffic is a bit lower the farther you go out, which is a good thing; the road slowly gets narrower and rougher. There is also very little visibility so even the cars have to go slow, which elicits no complaints from me. I tried to capture the beauty of this section in my photographs; it is hard to do it justice. The road continues to go in land in sections and along the water for others until reaching a popular area for snorkeling with a sheltered bay and blue water. In previous trips, I have gone snorkeling here and would definitely recommend it. On this day, it just signaled the start of the Nature Preserve and the road now cut directly through the lava flow. This lava flow seems much more recent than any others I have seen on Maui. It looks like it was a secondary flow out of the side of Haleakala as seen in this picture.

Evidence of the Flow out the Side of Haleakala

Running this section made me feel like I was running in the Ironman World Championships in Kona. There was lava on both sides, and the heat and wind were unrelenting. Even though this was only a two-mile stretch I can see how it would be very difficult in Kona. Along this stretch of road, I did get some puzzled looks from the tourist passing by in their air-conditioned cars. Nonetheless, I soldiered on to the end of the road where there is another parking area. This area is now crumbly pavement as the road has deteriorated steadily since leaving the last parking area. Try as I might I could not avoid landing on my injured foot, and by the time I came back out this way my foot was now hurting again. I could pick up a trail through the lava and tried to follow it until there was nowhere left to go, all in all, this was 9 miles into my run when I had to turn around. La Perouse Bay out where I turned around was gorgeous, and I am sure on a less windy day the swimming and snorkeling would be top notch.

La Perouse Bay

I took a couple of pictures out at the end and started to head back. The return trip was more of the same that I mentioned already as I came back the same way. There was not much different about the way home except that my sore foot was definitely ailing me a little more the closer I got to the condo. When I arrived back at the Kehei Surfside, I was not so much tired as I was just sore. I went through most of my supplies but think I should have been drinking even more water. The run had ended up being 18 miles, and my pace was about 10:30 per mile, including picture breaks and bathroom breaks. I even saw Melissa on her walk and talked to her for a minute as well. It was fun exploring the lava by fields, and I am glad I chose that way over running through town. Below is a link to my route. As always, your mileage may vary.

Kehei to lava Fields Run Route

Gear Used

  • Camelbak Ultra LR Vest – My first run with the vest. Initial impressions were good except carrying and extra bottle was a little bouncier than I prefer. Had no issues with discomfort other than the bottle.

    Thorn & Hole in Skora Base Shoes, Did not Punture
  • Skora Base Shoes – Wore them without socks earlier in the week and had no issues surprisingly. My feet are pretty fickle when going sockless. The shoes were great over the 18 miles, no blisters, breathed well, only an issue was pre-existing bruised foot. I also somewhere along the way stepped on a large thorn that pierced the midfoot foam. It did not get through to my foot. I took a picture after removing it.
  • Polar Bottle – Did an okay job at keeping the liquid cool. Tough proposition figuring the weather and my body heat.
  • Gu Roctane Drink Mix – Still testing it out. Even this was a bit overwhelming after a while.

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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