New York Mills, N.Y. - The 4th annual Utica Ugly Sweater 5K ran without a hitch on Sunday, even during COVID.
The race starts and begins near Pizza Boys on Clinton Street in New York Mills and it started this year, once again under some very chilly conditions, but the 250 or so runners that signed up were ecstatic just to be out doing something, especially with this latest spike in cases we have seen in Oneida County.
Race Director Mike Samoraj says he was hoping things wouldn't be shut down by the government during this latest COVID spike so that he could get this race in and get everyone outside and get them in a good holiday spirit, and that is exactly what happened.
Gary Burek of New Hartford has run the race each year with his wife Felicia and was surprised the race was still on, but very happy it was, "It’s a lot of fun to get all the different sweaters, and the competition for who’s got the ugliest."
Gene Allen of Utica has also run this race all four years of its existence. He says he too was surprised this event was still on, "I was really surprised when they said they were going to actually have a live race, but they’re doing it in shifts so they can keep within the guidelines of COVID and everything."
There were five shifts of 40 to 50 runners each, and they ran every 15 minutes, and everyone had to wear a mask, which not only helped in keeping people safe from getting or spreading COVID but also actually helped keep people warm.
Each participant received a custom "Ugly Sweater" winter beanie, mittens and a jingle bell bracelet that will add to the spirit and sound of the this years event.