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Organized run/walks perfect for beginners

August 21, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 391 lbs.

Last week: 404 lbs.

Start (Dec. 17): 470 lbs.

Total lost: 79 lbs.

People take the plunge every day. For whatever reason — health or vanity — they embark on a journey to lose weight.

That fact was reinforced when I met a woman walking in the Run the Colors for the Arts 5k Saturday, Aug. 16 at the North Elba Show Grounds. It seemed like all of the runners had passed through the final color station at the show grounds. Volunteers were picking up the orange construction cones and plastic bags full of powdered color when another volunteer, Nancy Beattie, pointed to three walkers and said, “Are they part of the event?”

Yes they were.

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A small boy, flanked by two women, were walking toward the color station. Once they got closer, we could tell they were participants, as they had powdered color on their clothing. They were the end of the line, the final walkers, and I felt compelled to walk with them to the finish line of their 1-mile loop. (It was 1 mile for the smaller children and 3.1 miles, or 5k, for the adults and bigger children.)

After all, my faster brother Steve and friend Dan Roy walked with me during the Lake Placid Half-Marathon in June, and we were the end of the line because I’m so slow. I still remember being followed by a village police car the entire way around Mirror Lake, as they were reopening the roadways after we passed by. It was nice having a police escort; we felt like VIPs, even though it was only a matter of procedure.

That small boy at the show grounds was 4-year-old Nicholas Shaw, who was walking with his mother Heather Shaw of Lake Placid and aunt Tammy Leon of Keene. As soon as I began interviewing Tammy, I felt a kinship as our journeys were crossing paths. She, too, was trying to lose weight.

“I’m starting it today because my doctor wants me to go on a weight-loss program, just exercise and eating right,” Tammy said. “I figure, you’ve got to start somewhere. This is my start. Day one today.”

Like me, Tammy is stuck behind a desk all day. She works for FedEx and works 10 hours a day. I asked her why she chose the Run the the Colors 5k as her inaugural event.

“My sister wanted to start exercising, and I said, ‘You know, let’s get out here and do this today,’” she said.

And so I wish Tammy well on her weight-loss journey as I continue mine. She plans on walking in the Color Run in Burlington on Sept. 13, and I’m walking the Lake Placid Classic 10k a week earlier. For those, like us, who have pledged to get active and stay active in order to lose weight, there are a number of walker-friendly events this fall to keep the blood flowing and make the scale your friend. I’ve listed six in Lake Placid below, but there are many more around the region.


Lake Placid Classic Half-Marathon/10k, Saturday, Sept. 6

The original Lake Placid/North Elba Half Marathon has changed its name and is now called the Lake Placid Classic Half-Marathon and 10k. This is the second year the event is offering a 10k and the second year organizers are working with the Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition to benefit the group.

Last year, the event raised about $7,500 for CYC programs, according to CYC Development Director Carol Hayes. Those proceeds helped fund projects such as the Lake Placid Elementary School Buddy Bench, the bus enclosure at the Lake Placid Middle/High School built as a senior project, identification scanners at local bars, an after-school study program, youth leadership training and a butterfly garden enclosure in Wilmington.

“Come out and support the youth and runners and this race that has been going on for many years,” Carol said. “It supports our vision of a healthy community and healthy lifestyle for our youth.”

The 44th annual Lake Placid Classic traces its roots to 1970, when Dr. Bob Lopez organized the first Lake Placid/North Elba Marathon and Half. The full marathon began in Paul Smiths, and the half began in Saranac Lake, with both races ending in Lake Placid. Butch Martin at the North Elba Park District operated the event through most if its history; however, the town had to stop managing the race in 2012 due to budget cuts. That’s when a group of local volunteers and organizations took over the race and began giving it new life.

In 2012, 212 runners participated, according to race director Rick Preston. In 2013, the 10k was added and attracted 93 participants, boosting the number to 319 runners. This year, they’re hoping for more.

Both races start at 9 a.m. on Main Street at the Olympic Speedskating Oval and end at the North Elba Show Grounds on state Route 73.

There is a 4.5-hour time limit.

For more information, visit the race’s website at


Tri-Lakes Relay for Life, Saturday, Sept. 20

Teams share the walking in relays around the Olympic Speedskating Oval for 12 hours, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m., and proceeds from sponsors benefit the American Cancer Society.

There are currently 15 teams signed up, including the one-man team of Mac Rand, of Lake Placid, who finished back-to-back Ironman races in July to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He raised $30,711 for that event and has set a goal of $1,000 for Relay for Life. His team is called Inspired Insanity, according to his Relay for Life page, and he will be walking the entire 12 hours solo — no relay for him.

Other local teams include the North Elba Republicans, 5-FU to Cancer, Saranac Lake Teachers’ Association, Banking on a Cure (Adirondack Bank), LPES A+ Walkers and Lake Placid Youth vs. Cancer.

For more information, visit and type in the Lake Placid zip code of 12946 under “Find an Event.”


Run for the Red 5k Run/Walk, Saturday, Oct. 4

This second-annual fundraising event sponsored by the American Red Cross North Country Chapter includes a 400-meter children’s fun run and an adult 5k walk/run. The fun run is for ages 3-10 and will take place at the Olympic Speedskating Oval at 9 a.m. The walk/run will start at the Oval at 9:30 a.m., proceed around Mirror Lake and finish at the Oval.

For more information, call the chapter office at 518-792-6545.


Out of the Darkness Community Walk, Sunday, Oct. 5

This benefit takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. The Out of the Darkness Community Walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s main fundraising campaign, featuring 3- to 5-mile walks in hundreds of communities across the country.

For more information, Linda McClarigan at 518-791-1544. To register, visit online at and find North Country Walk.


Adirondack Health 5k Turkey Trot, Thursday, Nov. 27

Runners and walkers begin the 5k race at the Olympic Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, proceed around Mirror Lake and finish at the Oval.

Participants are asked to bring a minimum of three non-perishable food items on the day of the race to donate to the local food pantries. Strollers are welcome but dogs are not.

Proceeds from the registration fee benefit Adirondack Health’s Fit for Life Program.

For more information, visit online at and search for Adirondack Health Turkey Trot.


Adirondack Health Jingle Bell Run/Walk, Saturday, Dec. 13

Held in conjunction with the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll, this event is a 2.5-mile counterclockwise race around Mirror Lake, starting and ending at the Lake Placid public beach. It starts at 8:30 a.m.

All participants are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy on race day to benefit the North Elba Christmas Fund. Strollers are welcome but dogs are not.

Proceeds from the registration fee benefit the Adirondack Health’s Fit for Life Program.

For more information, visit online at and search for Adirondack Health Jingle Bell Run/Walk (registration not active as of press time).


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Blog Photos

Tammy Leon of Keene, left, walks with her sister Heather Shaw of Lake Placid and nephew Nicholas Shaw during the Run the Colors for the Arts 5k race Saturday, Aug. 16 at the North Elba Show Grounds. (News photo —Andy Flynn)