CLINTON — Thanks to Clinton Elementary School’s Mighty Milers who put their sneakers to the pavement and gymnasium floor, they were able to secure a slot for School Monitor Ryan Dugan to run this year’s New York City Marathon.
Members of the Mighty Milers will take part in the Rising New York Road Runners program and depending on how many miles the young runners clock, will work toward earning a guaranteed entry into the famous 26.2-mile run in the Big Apple, explained Physical Education Teacher and Coach Heather Hillage-Scribner.
“We’ve had the Mighty Milers for about five years now,” Hillage said, adding that she gets up to 30 kids at the school during the winter session who show up to participate in an 8 a.m. run three days a week. There are fall, winter and spring Mighty Milers sessions, and the spring can get up to 60 runners, when kids get to go outside, she said.
Hillage considers herself a “recreational runner,” who has trained and ran “a few (Utica) Boilermakers,” but Dugan, who is affectionately known as “Mr. Ryan” among his pupils, is now quite the competitive runner. He started out walking 9 to 10 miles a day, and then friends encouraged him to start training to run the Boilermaker Roadrace.
Dugan said a few years ago, while attending his grandmother’s 90th birthday party, he and his cousins went for a walk up College Hill Road and they commented how walking or running in the area would be a great way to get in shape. He was almost 190 pounds at the time, and Dugan said he decided to stop living a mostly sedentary lifestyle and start moving.
“My father battled diabetes and he ended up dying from a heart attack, and I saw me starting to follow that same path,” the runner said, adding that diabetes ran in the family. “So I got myself a Fitbit” mile-tracking device “and started walking up that hill, and I would go for 9 to 10 mile walks.”
Then friends said, “If you can walk that far, why don’t you try running?”
And so Dugan gave it a go.
“In the fall of 2015 I started training for my first Boilermaker,” and in July 2016 he completed the 9.1-mile trek.
“I trained for that and once I ran it, I figured I proved myself,” Dugan quipped. He’d only fool himself into thinking that at first, the Boilermaker would be his only — and longest — competitive run.
But then Dugan really got bit by the running bug. He would actually join the Run the Edge’s Run the Year Virtual Fitness Challenge back in 2017, when he had to clock 2,017 miles total for the year.
To keep up with all those miles, Dugan challenged himself to run a marathon and as many 10-Ks, 5-Ks and any other competitive runs as he could.
“Once I did that (the Lake Placid Marathon), then I did the Boilermaker again, I did a run in Sylvan Beach, a half-marathon in New York City…I tried to do a race every month,” Dugan said.
The following year a friend informed him about the runDisney events, which are special theme park runs that are Disney character, Marvel and Star Wars themed held in Orlando. Dugan said he ran the first Star Wars run held down in Disney World in Florida. It had previously been held at Disney Land in California.
Nov. 3 was the first time Dugan had ever run the New York City Marathon, but it was his second marathon overall. His first was the Lake Placid Marathon.
“Lake Placid was very hilly — I actually got a better time in New York City,” said Dugan, adding that he clocked 4 hours and 38 minutes for the big city marathon last month.
The runner said his original goal was to complete the NYC in four hours, but a little misjudgment in pace and some sore muscles slowed him down a little.
“I started out running” the first 15 miles “too quick, but once I crossed that bridge into Brooklyn, the crowd really pulled me along,” he said of the fans.
By the time he got to Queensboro Bridge, “I was tired, and then I caught a Charlie horse and I only had about a mile left in the run, Dugan said, adding he needed a bit of time to walk it out. Before fatigue hit, the runner said he was clocking a Sub 8-minute mile. This all while his mother, Bonnie Bentley, and grandmother, Laura Peck, were out enjoying a hearty breakfast when he was hard at work.
“Ryan’s mom and grandma went to go cheer him on…They had an app on their phone to track where he was on the route, and here they were posting pictures on Facebook at the same time of their big breakfast and what they were eating,” as Ryan was running away, Hillage laughed.
In the meantime, Dugan keeps on keeping on with his goal to run a half marathon in each state. His latest run was in Las Vegas, just two weeks after he ran the NYC Marathon.
As for the half-marathons in each state, “I’ve done 11 so far,” he said.
The runner also has his eyes — and legs — fixed on competing in the runDisney Dopey Challenge, which are four separate races, in four consecutive days, for a total of 48.6 miles.