Utica, N.Y. - The Ted Petrillo Save Our Switchbacks annual road race was held under bright sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures on Sunday. Relatively warm temperatures, because we have been seeing winter-like conditions for most of April up until this weekend.
Race Director Wayne Murphy says the 40 to 50 degree temperatures were much welcome after the 20's and 30's that we've consistently seen for the first few weeks here in April and he says these conditions are actually better for runners than mid-summer conditions, "Feels better than when we have the 90° weather and 90% humidity sometimes in the summertime, so this is nice. Nice and cool to run in for those who work up a sweat like I do. It really feels good."
Murphy says this race, which is put on by the Utica Roadrunners Running Club, has a lot of meaning to runners here in Utica, because it was first formed in 1996 by Ted Petrillo whom the race is now named after, to save the running trails in Utica's Roscoe Conkling Park that area runners love.
Petrillo passed away in 2016 at the age of 74.
Petrillo formed the race to save the Switchback Trails in Roscoe Conkling which runs off of the Utica Memorial Parkway and through the Valley View Golf Course.
Murphy says money raised at this race over the years has been used to get the trails back into good condition, which deteriorated after a particularly harsh winter in 1996. The trails became a safety hazard and the Save Our Switchbacks project was born, as was this race.
The race is half the distance of the Boilermaker. It's 7.5K instead of a 15 K and the shorter distance is perfect for runners after a long winter.
Gary Burak of New Hartford was one of the more than 100 runners who took part Sunday morning. Burak says the weather made this day perfect, "It’s great, the suns out, it motivates you, it gets you going."
Burak says this is the beginning of the outdoor training season for many to get ready for the Boilermaker in July.
Burak says the money raised at this raise has clearly done what it was intended to do, repair and maintain the Switchback Trails, "Oh they’re in good shape, nice condition everything’s looking good in the South Woods. They did a good job with them."