One Father’s Day present: a gifted little runner

Eight-year-old Jackie Liebler, of Southington, placing 1st in her age group at the Smile Through The Miles 5K race in Winsted, CT, June 17, 2017.

WINSTED, Conn. (WTNH) — The Liebler family is a running family. And they were all smiles on Saturday.

They were on full display at the Smile Through The Miles 5K race in Winsted. The race was held at the Northwestern Regional High School, where proceeds from the race went toward the athletic department.

One special girl in the race gave her dad a Father’s Day gift he’ll never forget. Eight-year-old Jackie Liebler started running races in Connecticut at the age of six. She wanted to be like her father, Bill Liebler of Southington, an avid runner.

dad jackie One Fathers Day present: a gifted little runner
Bill Liebler celebrating daughter Jackie Liebler’s 1st place finish, and her 100th town raced in Connecticut, following the 5K race in Winsted, June 17, 2017.

She talked her mother, Felicia, and her 10-year-old brother Billy into starting a ‘Couch to 5K’ program in the summer of 2014. ‘Couch to 5K’ is a mobile app that trains anyone that wants to start running. Even if you’ve never raced before, the app is designed to help you complete a 5K in nine weeks. Telling you when to run and when to walk, the program helped Jackie and her family become running machines.

Jackie and her family started training together three years ago, running and walking three times a week. The four of them have competed in various races throughout the state. “Felicia or I have run in all the races that Jackie has run, but mostly the four of us run the races together.  Jackie and I have run a number of races without Felicia and Billy because of conflicting schedules,” said Jackie’s father Bill.

Jackie really enjoys it. As if doing a 5K at her age wasn’t impressive enough, she has gone distances of 5 miles, and 10Ks. Her race last week at Litchfield Hills Road Race was 7.1 miles! She has placed in most of the races that she has competed in for her age group.

thefam One Fathers Day present: a gifted little runner
The Liebler Family, Felicia (top-left), Bill (top-right), Jackie (bottom-left), and Billy (bottom-right).

On Saturday, the day before Father’s Day, she ran her 100th town in the state at the Winsted race. Not only that, she put the ‘Win’ in Winsted, as Jackie came in 1st place for her age group with a time of 25:58.

Her mother, Felicia said that Jackie specifically asked to run in the Winsted race because her running mentor Julie Aresco would be in it. It was a special day for Aresco too, as she was running for her brother David, a Winsted Police Officer and military veteran who passed away in 2008. On top of that, Aresco finished her goal of running all 169 towns in Connecticut when she completed the 5K.

The Lieblers including Jackie, and Aresco are all part of the ‘Run for 169 Society’. Jackie’s older brother Billy is quite the runner too, having completed races in 87 towns in Connecticut.

Following the race on Saturday, Bill said, ” We feel very proud for Jackie to have accomplished this. It was amazing to see how happy she was today. Our fellow 169ers were very supportive and gave her a lot of attention.”

Fittingly, Jackie was given the number 100 for the race.

jackieposter One Fathers Day present: a gifted little runner

If you’re into this story as much as we were, you wont mind checking out the list of towns Jackie has already raced in….so far. Here goes:

Ansonia, Ashford, Barkhamsted, Beacon Falls, Berlin, Bethany, Bethel, Bethlehem, Branford, Bristol, Brookfield, Brooklyn, Burlington, Canton, Chester, Columbia, Cornwall, Coventry, Danbury, Deep River, Durham, East Hampton, East Hartford, East Haven, East Lyme, East Windsor, Easton, Ellington, Farmington, Franklin, Glastonbury, Goshen, Groton, Haddam, Hampton, Hartland, Harwinton, Kent, Killingly, Killingworth, Lebanon, Litchfield, Lyme, Madison, Manchester, Mansfield, Marlborough, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Milford, Morris, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Hartford, New Haven, New Milford, Newington, Newtown, North Branford,

Break for hydration….ok continue reading the list.

North Haven, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Orange, Plainville, Plymouth, Portland, Preston, Putnam, Rocky Hill, Salem, Scotland, Shelton, Simsbury, Somers, Southington, Sprague, Stafford, Sterling, Stratford, Torrington, Union, Vernon, Wallingford, Washington, Waterbury, Waterford, Watertown, West Hartford, Westport, Wethersfield, Willington, Winchester, Windsor Locks, Wolcott, Woodbridge, Woodbury.

And the road goes on forever.

jackiefinnishing1 One Fathers Day present: a gifted little runner
Jackie Liebler approaching the finish line of the Smile Through the Miles 5K, in Winsted, CT , June 17, 2017.