Dryden Lake Lollipop Star Posts


What a perfect morning for a run. I’m deep in the build portion of half iron training and have been feeling sluggish and uninspired. When I got to the end of the end of Dryden Lollipop I almost turned around and ran it again! Warm with a cool breeze and gorgeous puffy clouds… It reminded me why I sign up for races in the first place.



well, turns out last nights’ storm had really high winds on part of the Jim Schug Trail. As Anne and I got closer to Dryden Lake, we noticed several trees had broken, but already been moved off the trail. But just after the West Lake road crossing we were stopped dead in our tracks by this big machine busy clawing broken trees off the trail. We couldn’t see past him, but talked to the driver and asked if we could climb over his rig to continue -and he said that there were 50 trees down all over the trail up ahead so we wouldn’t be able to get through anyway! So -we did a little creative re-route-ing and pieced together a 13.1 mile route (as measured by Anne’s Apple Watch) by running over on West Lake Road to Lake Road, then right on Lake Road up far enough to make the distance turn out right, then turned around and did the rest of the Lollipop route as designed. It’s the best we could figure out to do, and made it a bit of an adventure


Wow that’s nuts. I was just there last week and the rail trail was business as usual. Always amazing at how quickly things can change with just a single storm.

Crazy! Sounds like Dryden is on top of it, but people might want to hold off a day or two on running this course to make sure it’s clear.


It was a hot and sticky morning but Jamie and I decided to attempt the Lollipop this morning since we didn’t get to run much while we were away. We were prepared to take the detour but I am happy to report that the trail has been cleared. On our why out they were still working to finish off the last of the branches in the path but we were able to skirt around the trucks. We could see lots and lots of trees that had fallen and been cleared from the path. By the time we returned the trucks were gone and the trail was all clear. Hooray! Climate change is very sobering.


Thanks for posting about the trees on (and then off) the trail. @gumbywhale and possibly @Gretchen and I are going to attempt this route on Wednesday, August 2, starting at 4pm. We plan to park near the “butterfly bench” and then run out the Jim Schug trail and around the lake. When we get back to the cars, we’ll take a quick water break and continue to Freeville. We should reach Toad’s at about mile 11. We’ll get ice cream and walk the last 2+ miles back to the cars. If anyone wants to join, get in touch with me to coordinate on details.

(I plan to keep on training for a half-marathon distance and hope to run the entire course at the group run later in August, but I want to “cover the ground” sooner in case of bad AQI or other issues later.)


I plan to start at 3:30pm that day as I’ll take a little longer than you and Sarah. Getting ice cream for the last 2 miles is a definite! :slight_smile:

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I’ll be starting at 3pm instead of 3:30pm on Wed. It ends up that I have an IH3 meeting that evening so I’m going to add in some extra time for cooling down, changing, etc. before the meeting.

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I’m not ready to run a half-marathon, but I wanted to “cover the ground” on this course in case I can’t do it later this month, for example if there is bad AQI. @gumbywhale agreed to my scheme for today, which involved parking the cars by the Dryden ice cream shop at what was our starting point, as well as our mile 8 and mile 13.

I was worried that our 4pm start time would mean that temperatures would be slightly too warm, but I guess all my recent heat running has been helpful, because it was cool enough at 75 degrees that I didn’t turn into a puddle of sweat.

We set off running south and maintained an even pace while chatting and enjoying big poofy clouds. I also liked seeing cows in the fields.

I often run on the Jim Schugg trail, and it was fun to get on the roads briefly to try something new. It was also fun to turn back from Keith Lane and be already a ways on the Jim Schugg back toward Dryden. Back at the cars, I drank some water and grabbed some watermelon. We then kept running toward the proper start of the course and we saw @Gretchen on the course! We found the Challenge sign around our mile 10.

We continued with the Team Ice Cream part of the plan by buying cones at Toad’s. I got peach on the bottom of my cone and chocolate peanut butter on top. We ran into @Banyan_Tree at Toads! He had just finished running the course!

We walked the last few miles back to Dryden. This was great while we were eating our cones, and it was scenic, but my feet started to feel tired and the bugs came out. Possibly it would have been better to jog the last mile to outrun the bugs, but my legs might not think so tomorrow.

I was very glad to make it back. Some friends had come out to run the normal Wednesday night group run, so we sat around for a while with them at the Dryden ice cream shop, and then we went to Brewer’s for dinner. Adam took this picture of me at dinner, wearing my Challenge shirt. I have now completed all the courses! I will try to keep my training going so I can tackle this course again at the group run, and I plan to run the entire course then.


Congrats! And good to see you out on the course!

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In mid May I was 7 courses into the Challenge when I backed off running due to a sore foot. I rested, tried to run, rested, ran a 5K on 6/3 which is the last time I ran.

I was determined to complete this challenge and requested permission to split this course into two half half marathons.

July 29

I started my first half half marathon at the Challenge Course sign in Freeville and walked the stick of the lollipop. It was so muggy and a bit buggy. I saw an abundance of wildlife: a groundhog, several rabbits, a heron, a fawn, and birds. I decided to turn around just after the steel deck bridge in Dryden. It wasn’t quite the half half half marathon, but I recognized the municipal parking area nearby and a prominent marker of where to start the 2nd part of this course.

August 4

With time running out, I was getting nervous about completing the Challenge!

Here is my official starting sign/post for my second half half marathon:

Today I covered the ground of the lollipop portion of the course. Wow! That storm last week must have been something! It was crazy how the damage was localized to the area by the lake. After leaving the trail, I was surprised to see that long hill to climb. I enjoyed the road portion of the course more than I thought I would.

There was a Big Foot sighting:

I put two and two together, Cover the Ground Challenge shirt + activity log and deduced that I saw @jadflrc on the course. I may have crossed paths with @MWoods as I crossed paths with a single female runner at a place that would coincide with her start time and pace.

I am disappointed I wasn’t able to run all the course this year, but I am glad that I was able to complete the Challenge!


My wife still needed the two longest courses to complete her 2023 challenge, and this was the one course left for me that warranted a speed focused effort, so we chose to spend this lovely morning on trail collectively tyeing up our loose ends. We chose to park at the Weber street lot to allow the car to serve as a more central aid station, and it also afforded shade parking and a nice patch of lawn. As is typical with us, we got a slightly later start than planned and I was smarting to get running as soon as possible to avoid the soon to be rising temps. To that end, my warmup was quick and included only dynamic stretching, but no jogging or aerobic activity to get the heart pumping first. This definitely caused the first two miles to be a little more onerous than they could have been, but I eventually settled out and stayed steady soon after.
Parking at the midpoint made this course feel like it went way faster than it normally would have. From this point it is just shy of a 10k to return around the lollipop. Instead of one long course, it just felt like two quick jaunts one after another. I left a plastic bottle full of water on my rear bumper with the intent of pouring it over my head as I passed through for the second half. This proved to be a good move and definitely made me feel refreshed for the second act. It also cost me practically no time as the car was only a few feet from the path. As I plugged away, there was definitely a lot of human activity on the trail. The wildlife spotting of my first go on this course was supplanted with spotting of other humans either running, pedaling, or pushing a stroller. I passed by a handful of other challengers as they were out likely completing their final challenge miles as well.
As I neared the Freeville end of the course, I was brought back to memories of my previous ill fated visit here. It was at the end where the scan in sign is that I went through one of the most physically painful episodes of my life. I was eager to make the turn and put it all behind me. Anytime I use an alternative starting spot on the course I always make a point of tagging the sign with my hand. With that, I knew I had a solid 5k+ to finish it out. It wasn’t long until I saw another runner in the distance heading towards me like a comet. At first I though it might be Patrick, but as he neared it instead proved to be Jay finishing up one of his last courses. I wafted away some of the dust clouds left in his wake and took it as an opportunity to try and pick up the pace myself and make sure I gave it an effort worth the drive. There were a couple bikers very leisurely pedaling ahead that I noticed I was making ground on. I fixated on them to see if I could overtake them before the end. They struggled up some of the climbs and I was able to catch up a great quicker than expected, and appeared to give them a bit of a startle. After about another half mile they eventually again overtook me. I figured this was the end of it, but before reaching main street Dryden I was again behind them making my final kick to the end and was able to pass them one last time with about a half mile to spare. Of all the half marathon distance runs I have done, this one felt like it just went by in a flash.
Back at the car, I had the irresistible urge to take off my shoes and socks and walk around in the nice plot of grass near the lot. And so I did, and it was satisfying.

I pulled out the cell phone to track my wife’s location to monitor her progress. I had some time to kill and was feeling a bit peckish, so I made my way into Dryden to see what the breakfast options were. It became clear very soon that on a Sunday morning Dryden is not the place to be if you are looking for breakfast. After consulting the phone, it boiled down to two unexciting options. McDonalds or Dunkin. Ug!
At this point it occurred to me that I could actually make myself useful. I found the next road crossing my wife would be at and decided to surprise here with a bonus aid station on her home stretch. She was doing well, but her hydration was warm and yucky and a nice cool refresh with ice seemed to boost the morale.

Off she went again and I decided to intercept her one more time at Main Street Dryden to make sure she didn’t need anything. Less then ten minutes later we were both back at the starting point and ready to head for home.

…but… we are members of team ice-cream and there is no way we are driving past Toads without a stop. The sign said they were not open until noon, but it was well before that and a group of bikers were already out front with cones in hand. Not sure if we lucked out or not, but we got our fix.

With most of the speed demons in the challenge either moving away, foregoing it this year, off on trips, or simply taking their time to complete it, it has allowed some of us slow pokes to stay near the top of the board much longer than we normally would have managed. I knew with a decent run here I would get enough points to push me back into third and get on the main leader board. It will be short lived and may already be in the past by the time I hit post, but it was fun seeing my name that high one last time this late in the challenge before the cheetahs and leopards decide to finish their courses and the natural of order to things is once again restored.



Got to run this course with my hubby this morning. It didn’t go quite as well as I hoped but the heat got to me on this one. I will say I did enjoy the course. If you read @DamianClemons write up, I have to agree it did seem to go quick. Parking at Weber Rd worked out perfectly for us as I made a quick pit stop at the car as well. It also worked out well because by the time i reached the port a potty, I needed it. I don’t usually drink a lot while running but as I said, the heat got to me. So thank you for sponsoring the port a potty.

Toads Too was open and I’m so thankful we got to stop because one thing my husband didn’t mention in his post is that today is his birthday!!! So not only did he get to spend his birthday morning doing what he loves, he got one his favorite treats too. Happy birthday @DamianClemons!!


Happy birthday @DamianClemons !!!


Happy Birthday @DamianClemons!!



I completed my 2023 challenge with today’s Lollipop run, and it was wonderful!

The group started a little before 9am, when the air hadn’t yet humidified, and the perfect blue skies and puffy white clouds set the scene.

@julie19 and I partnered up before the start and ran the first 11 or so miles together, and she obliged my stops to photograph some of the magic this course has to offer. I’ve only done it in early spring (as part of the women’s distance festival), so this was my first visit in full late summer glory.

As we passed the ponds, we looked for turtles on logs, but were unsuccessful. We did spot plenty of happy dogs along the entire course (Julie & I are dog people), as well as a great blue heron and a snowy egret.

We picked out our favorite country houses with views of the lake, appreciated the gardens in their flashy August oranges and pinks, and told running horror stories (because: why not?!)

Around mile 10, @adamengst biked alongside us for a mile while we chatted. Like all FLRC events, it was such a happy and supportive atmosphere!

@heathercobb3 also set up a water station for everyone and went to far as to label folks’ half-drunk bottles so they could finish them at the end. She, along with Adam, were basically our cross country parents :slight_smile:

In a true proud parent moment, @adamengst insisted on taking my photo by the course sign after I finished my challenge.

After getting cleaned up at home, I went out to lunch at the Coal Yard Cafe (a truly excellent spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch) and enjoyed “ranch eggs” with a loaded salad.

When driving home this afternoon, my daughter asked me what I was going to run next. I realized I don’t have any plans! What is my (running) purpose without the FLRC challenge?!!! :rofl:



Having gotten up, watered and fed by 7 am to participate in Women Swimmin’ - only to have it cancelled at 7:15 due to rough lake conditions :frowning: - I decided to make lemonade out of this lemon-like situation and get the lollipop - my last challenge course - done today (instead of tomorrow as I had originally planned). It went fairly well and I’m glad I did it. Nice views around Dryden lake and some interesting lawn ornaments. But I’m not gonna lie - swimming in the lake is a bit more fun (and easier on the knees!). Glad to see so many folks out there - although we probably do need some kind of greeting that ID’s us as a challenger as Adam says. Thanks for a great set of courses, Adam and all who supported this feat of organization. It really is special.



This was my second effort on the Lollipop course and my final 2023 Challenge run. Going into it, I was hoping to improve my time from my first effort and socialize with other runners. I slipped an AirPod into my pocket in case I ended up running solo, because music helps me roll through the miles.

The run began with a fun 2 miles with @lgilmer who was just doing 2 miles out and 2 miles back. After she turned around, I was alone on the course, so the AirPod went in. I was trying for miles that were faster than 12 minutes and ideally faster than 11 but I wasn’t sure what my body could do. I settled into a 10:34 pace. Seriously - 3 of my miles were exactly at 10:34 and there wasn’t a lot of variance. I ran a half-mile or so with @blairh after the well-placed water stop ably staffed by @heathercobb3 with company from Lauren and Theo, @patrickmilano’s wife and baby.

After that it was all waving at walkers, enjoying the day, and saying “hi” to @adamengst when he came by on his bike—until suddenly I’m wide, wide awake. Bruce Springsteen in one ear. I’m running out on the road around Dryden Lake, and I’m on the double yellow line where the road is flat. I am running like before I hurt my back, and the farm fields are kissing up to the rolling hills, and the hills are gentle under the enormous sky. I am everything and I am nothing. I am suspended in time. A few minutes later, a huge black pickup came rocketing around a curve, bringing me back to the shoulder.

I kept running on that pinnacle of effort and effortlessness, cruising along and into the finish, where I had the rest of my water bottle and a half a bagel with cream cheese waiting. And friends.

I so appreciate the Challenge for bringing us together and for giving me focus.