Dave Oja says farewell to Festival of Races after 25 years

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Like the hundreds of participants in this year's Festival of Races, Dave Oja headed toward a finish line of his own. 

He started the popular running event back in 1993. 

"From there on, I've simply been saying "Wow, wow, wow, every year for 25 years," Oja said. 

What began as a hobby in late 70’s turned into a lifelong love for Oja when Syracuse’s Freihofer’s Run for Women ended in 1992.

He filled the void with an event everyone could join from world record holders to folks who just owned a pair of sneakers. 

"I embraced really the longtime goal of seeing what I could do... to make the Syracuse running community a better community, and a nationally visible community and a nationally admired community," Oja said. 

The self-proclaimed nutty perfectionist says the number 25 just feels like the right time to make this race his last. He spends nearly 1,000 hours each year organizing the event. 

Now, he's not sure if the event will continue without him or what his future holds.  

"Then in a week or so I’m going to look around and I’m going to say “Ok, what is my new life going to be like?," Oja said. 

Dave told us he has had several people interested in taking the race over.

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