Monday, January 17, 2011

Indiana Dunes State Park - ZOY Remembered

This is a photo essay resulting from a recent trip to Indiana Dunes State Park near Chesterton, IN on the shore of Lake Michigan.  I lived in Hobart, IN during the Summer and Fall of 1987.  During that time I often rode my bike from Hobart to either the Dunes or farther east to South Bend in order to wave at Touchdown Jesus. Because I fell in love with the Dunes during my short stay I have returned to them many times.  Seven of those visits were to race in the 6.5 mile ZOY RUN.  The run followed a circuitous rout that followed first behind, then on top of, then up and down, in front of, and once again behind the dune ridge.  Indiana Dunes SP is a spectacular and unique collection of forested freshwater sand dunes that should be high on any person's "must visit" list.

Soon after returning from the Winter Solace in the Smoky Mountains  I drove my son, Brandon, back to Columbia College in Chicago. From there I drove east to the Dunes with the intention of running the course of the defunct (banned!) ZOY RUN and otherwise hiking and exploring the park.  It proved to be a grand run filled with reminiscing that was clarified by the fact that the temperature was hovering around 20 F while the wind gusted wildly.  Check out the data and mapping of the run as recorded with a Garmin 410 HRM.

The following pictures are in order as I ran casually around the ZOY RUN course on frozen sand.  Can you spot the devious monster?

As usual, click twice to greatly enlarge these pictures.

The "up ramp" at the Furnessville Blowout after 1.8 miles behind the ridge. (Ouch, tilted horizon!)
Looking back in a section of grass-lined trench trail.  Sections like this made it extremely difficult to pass in the ZOY.

Once again behind the ridge after the Beach House Blowout.
The first major climb is up Mt. Jackson.  Due to a change in slope, this shot only shows a little more than half of the climb.
Summit fever?
The second climb is Mt. Holden.
The third summit, Mt. Tom, is reached by a long series of wooden stairs.  Zoom in to see where they end in this picture and begin in the next picture.

Second section of stairs leading to the summit of Mt. Tom.
Tah dah!
Heading to the beach after a crazy descent of Mt. Tom.
Who let that guy out?!
The Dunes Creek crosses the beach to empty into Lake Michigan.  I once misjudged the drop distance, which changes, and ended up going down in the creek when the temperature was in the teens.  Most of the water on my clothes quickly froze to give me an awesome ice creature look for the last mile of the race.
This boardwalk is actually near the Wilson Shelter where the ZOY RUN started.   Goodbye for now old friend . . . 


  1. Love the Dunes Shane. Thank you for the post. This weekend is the Bride of Zoy Run. It now starts just outside the Dunes State Park and is about 15k. They still run inside the Dunes, just not as many trails as the original Zoy Run. I will be there Sunday with a poster of the 1991 Zoy run. It is a great shot of the start of the race coming over the bridge at the start of trail 8. Did you run in 1991? Sorry, forgot that was 21 years ago.

  2. I found the race results for the Zoy run. It wasn't 1991. It was 1989. Found your name on the list as a finisher, so I guess you are in the picture.

  3. Hi, Bob! I think that I actually ran both of those years. I'd have to check my collection of rocks to make certain. What a fantastic run, huh?! My connection up there who is a friend of Al's, has told me of the Bride of Zoy, but I have yet to get up there for it. That approaching storm should make the conditions tough and memorable. I wish I could be there! Thanks for sharing!