Modified Frostbite 5k Gets Ugly: Successful Amid Ongoing Pandemic

Modified Frostbite 5k Gets Ugly:

Successful Amid Ongoing Pandemic

Participants make their way down Market Street in Oneonta during the 2018 YMCA Frostbite 5k event. (Ian Austin/


ONEONTA – The Oneonta Family YMCA Frostbite has traditionally been held on New Year’s Eve Day in the city of Oneonta, however, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required that the event be modified.

This year participants were able to enjoy the event anywhere they wanted at any time during the month of December. Participants could run, walk, stroll or bike a 2.5k, 5k or 10k at their discretion.

After registering for the race, participants were asked to download an app that allows participants to “run [their] virtual race and automatically track [their] pace, distance and overall time.” Upon completing the race, finishers were provided with a certificate.

As of December 28, 144 individuals have participated of all ages with still more three days of the event remaining – a very comparable total to last year’s 145 participants.

John Hayen’s Tilly Avenue Home in 2017

The event has included a host of participants from across the empire state but has also seen representation by OH, NH, PA and SC. The event saw 13 participants under 18 and another 13 over 65.

“Our goal is to get and keep people active and moving, have fun doing it and feel good about providing important funding for the YMCA,” Director of Development at the Oneonta Family YMCA, Bill Escher said of the event.

This sentiment aligns with the mission put forth by the institution reading, “Built by and for the community, The Oneonta Family YMCA has been an anchor institution since 1883. Since 1883 our Y has been a proactive community member by listening and responding to the needs of our neighbors. Our Y was founded to serve this growing community and to bring about positive personal and social change.”

“We know that our exceptional and unique services will be even more important in the post-pandemic landscape. We need to be here, stronger than ever, as our services have never been more critical and funding for these services is equally critical,” the event memo reads.

John Hayen sporting his 2019 ugly Christmas sweater staple.

“This year’s event honors the wonderful and lasting memory of John Hayen with an “Ugly Christmas” long-sleeve T-Shirt. Escher said adding, “John was our areas Ugly Christmas Fashionista and a fixture at our YMCA for over 20 years.

For more information, interest in participating and/or purchasing an ugly Christmas sweater in memory of John Hayen, please visit the website at:

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