First Night 5K brisk start to holiday

Monday, January 1, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:33 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008


Tom Novotney, left, from Rockwell, Iowa, his daughters Alison and Cecilia and his sister Theresa cool down after completing Sunday’s First Night 5K run. (ADAM WISNESKI/Missourian)

Some families spend the holidays eating food by the bucket-load and sitting around a television watching football or movies. Other families go for a run.

The Columbia track club held its First Night 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, and despite the wintry chill in the chair, 291 people registered for the race. Many of those registrants were families who did the event together.

Tim Novotney’s family travelled 7 hours from Rockwell, Iowa, to visit family in Jefferson City for the holidays and to compete in the run. Just last month, his family made the trip to Columbia for a Thanksgiving Day run starting on the MKT Trail.

Novotney’s daughter, Cecilia, completed her first 5K on Sunday. She’s only 7. His other daughter, Allison, age 10, also completed the 3.1 miles. Novotney’s sister, Theresa, his son, Daniel and “even Grandpa too” competed in the race.

Novotney said the wind made it a bit harder on the girls, but “it’s good to get out and get exercise.”

Columbia resident Tac Chapman also took advantage of spending time outdoors with his family. Chapman and his two daughters, Alexis and Emma, competed in the race. Chapman’s sister, Gillian Chapman, brought her two girls, Olivia and Isabelle, from Kansas City. The oldest of the four children was 9.

It was also the first 5K for the family dog too, though the girls said that four legs gave the dog an unfair advantage.

“We came to Columbia just to run,” Gillian Chapman said jokingly, adding that they did come to visit with the family too.

Tac Chapman said that the family loves to “get out and have a lot of fun together.”

Both families also did a Turkey Trot run in Kansas City for Thanksgiving.

“It’s a fun way to spend the holiday and then eat and play afterwards,” Tac Chapman said.

The best performance from a child Sunday came from Rebecca Willis, who turns 12 today.

Willis has done cross-country before, but she said that she hadn’t run in over a month. Before the race, she told everyone that she wouldn’t do very well.

She couldn’t have been more wrong. Willis and her father, Dale, both came out ran their best times. Rebecca Willis improved her time by over a minute, completing the race in 21:38.

“She did great. She did awesome,” Dale Willis said with a proud look on his face.

Rebecca Willis was just over 2 minutes behind 27 year-old Alison Hodgson of Columbia, the winner of the women’s 5K. Hodgson won last year’s race too.

Daniel Gale of Jefferson City won the men’s 5K with a 15:46. Both winners get a free pair of shoes from Tryathletics. Random drawings for all participants were also held at Cyclextreme, located at 19 S. Sixth St., after the race.

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