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New Year's run turns 20


January 10, 2019

Shana Neesvig

WITH A SLICK START runners participated in the twentieth annual New Year's Day Fun Run event in Thompson Falls. Enthusiasts can choose to either run or walk the 2K (1.24 miles) or 5K (3.1) course.

Remember the year 1999, when the world was going to end at the stroke of midnight? Sarah Naegeli told a story recalling how her, Sharon Pound and Kris Anderson figured that if the world was going to end, they might as well have a fun run to go along with it.

Now, 20 years later, the annual Thompson Falls New Year's Day Fun Run is still going strong. "Who would have thought we would still be going when this all started?" Naegeli questioned. "It's been fun!"

There has been a decline in racers in the last 20 years, which Naegeli feels is due to race competition from Missoula and surrounding areas where New Year Day runs are now offered. Attendance has depleted from 100 to 125 in the early years to 46 runners this year. But this doesn't stop the usual suspects, who admit that the challenge of getting up early New Year's Day morning to run is quite fun whether there is a large or small group.

In fact, it appears that a tradition of race participation is growing with some area families who head out together, starting the new year off with a bang. With that comes a little bit of trash talking. One daughter, who will remain anonymous as to protect her father, was overheard telling her dad (as she was increasing the distance between them), that he was suffering because of the growler of beer he drank in celebration of the New Year the night before. Under her breath she added that she warned him and maybe next year he will listen to her, though not likely.

Many of the participants are regulars and the run provides a platform for those with like-minded exercise habits to join together in another annual toast to health. Even though there are many of the same faces every year, Naegeli commented that no single person has run the race the entire 20 years. "Kids have moved away, there have been injuries and people are just getting older," she announced at the awards ceremony.

As a liaison for the Clark Fork Valley Running Club, she extended gratitude to Harvest Foods of Thompson Falls, Taylor Trucking & Excavation and Ace Inland Empire Builders who have been continuous sponsors for the entirety. In addition, Runner's Edge, Run Wild Missoula, Floyd and Carol Searl and the Clark Fork Valley Running Club sponsored awards for top finishers and door prizes this year.

In step with prior years, the ice- and snow-covered streets surrounding the Elks Club made running a bit of a challenge for 2019. Top finishers moved gingerly while vying for top positions. In the 5K race, Justin Morgan and Josey Neesvig, both sophomores and Thompson Falls cross-country runners claimed top male and female honors. Marley Neesvig, Thompson Falls fourth grader, was the top finisher for the 2K race. No males competed in 2K this year. In all, there were 37 participants in the 5K and 9 in the 2K.


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