I live within miles of the Polly Ann Trail and run segments of it regularly. I have always wanted to run the whole thing and when I found out that there was an FKT route for it, I decided to go for it on a whim. I decided on Saturday night that I would try to run it the next morning and checked with my husband that he could come pick me up at the end of it.
I started at 6:15am at the south end of the trail. I parked in a subdivision close by and walked to the beginning of the trail as I did not see a parking area when I drove by. I brought a 20mL handheld water bottle and another 9mL water bottle that fit in my shorts pocket, both with about 400 calories of Tailwind. I really needed more water than that, but I didn't want to wear a hydration vest and figured with the cooler temperatures in September I would be okay. I already knew that the drinking fountains on the route had not been turned on. For food, I brought trail mix, two packs of SportBeans and two HoneyStinger StroopWaffels. As I will say later, this probably wasn't enough nutrition.
I am familiar with the trail out to Leonard. It is a well-maintained crushed limestone trail perfect for running. After about the first 20 miles, the trail turned into grass and got progressively tougher to run. I looked back at past reports and it is possible that the later part of the trail was better maintained earlier in the summer, but by September it had sections with pretty long grass. There were parts where I couldn't really tell if I was on a trail or not. I slowed down greatly at around 20 miles. My mental excuse was that the terrain was harder to run, but it probably had more to due with the fact that I hadn't kept up on my nutrition as much as I should have. I saw about 6 people total over the 37 miles.
The end of the trail is not marked. It led me into someone's backyard on Mill Street who was not at all happy to have runners out there. My husband and kids had parked on Mill Street and went into the small store on the north corner. They were NOT welcome to park on Mill Street and were told as much. Luckily, the owners of the property on the south side of Mill Street were very welcoming and waited with my family to cheer me in. With that being said, this Polly Ann Trail route should end just south of Mill Street where there is a limestone pile. Crossing Mill Street spits you out onto someone's property that will not be happy to see you. I also think I forgot to stop my watch as I thought I ended at 5:02, but Strava is now saying 5:06.
Overall, I highly recommend running the Polly Ann trail from Lake Orion to Dryden. It is well maintained and has pretty forested sections. After Dryden, the trail is not maintained and is not as enjoyable to run.