E.A. Sports Today

First-timers rule

Pair of Woodstock rookies win gold Saturday morning

Woodstock contenders (from left) Austin Duckworth, Richard Kimani and Jeff Rhodes set the early pace. On the cover, Duckworth looks back at the field after crossing the finish first.

EXTRA: Go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com and click on Woodstock files for a gallery of B.J. Franklin photos from the race.


Mens’s Race
Austin Duckworth, Austin, Texas 15:24
Jeff Rhodes, Birmingham 15:29
Richard Kimani, Birmingham 15:34

Women’s Race
Hollyann Swann, Blountsville 18:32
Megan Wasserman, Birmingham 19:10
Emily Ansick, Auburn 19:32

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It was a good day for first-time runners in the Woodstock 5K this morning.

First-timers Austin Duckworth and Hollyann Swann were the overall male and female winners of the annual race having never seen the course before.

Duckworth, a 28-year-old Birmingham native and former Alabama runner now living in Austin, Texas, as a Ph.D. candidate in sports history, won the men’s race in 15:24. Swann, 22, from Blountsville, won the women’s race in 18:32.

“I heard it was a good race,” Duckworth said, back home visiting his girlfriend Elizabeth Laseter for the summer. “It was for a state championship so I wanted to run.”

Defending men’s winner Jeff Rhodes of Birmingham was second (15:29) and his training partner, Richard Kimani, another first-timer, was third (15:34).

Megan Wasserman of Birmingham was second in the women’s race (19:10) and Emily Ansick of Auburn was third (19:32).

Duckworth used a lesson he learned in a race last week to help him win here. He lost to Kimani last week in Homewood because he made his move too soon, but was determined not to “make the same mistake as last week’s race.”

“I went out too early,” Duckworth related. “I heard there was a big hill (here) and was like, all right, wait until the big hill and push up it and see what happens. A little bit of frustration got put out today.”

Kimani tried to make his move late in the race but a tender shin kept the 28-year-old Kenyan from pushing as hard as he could.

Rhodes, 30, was running in about an hour’s sleep — with no caffeine, he proudly said — after winning a Midnight Run in Cullman earlier this morning and caught a cramp midway through the race. Still, he was happy with the time in what he called his most competitive running situation since the birth of his child in January.

“I did what I could,” he said. “I tried to repeat, but I’m tired. I was very happy I ran a 15:30 because I thought I was going to fall off. I pushed and pushed as much as I could and I just didn’t have that extra energy you need.”

The recently married Swann normally runs in a triathlon in Guntersville this weekend, but passed on it this year because she thought she might be on vacation. She had the week open, took the recommendation of her former AUM teammates and thought Woodstock would be a good trainer for the upcoming collegiate cross country season where she will run as an independent with her one year of remaining eligibility attending Marshall.

She set the early women’s pace and spent the rest of the race trying to someone to run with.

“It wasn’t exactly the time I was wanting, but it was a hot morning, so I can’t complain,” she said. “I heard it was a good race to start you off for cross country because of the rolling hills and it’s so fast they use it as a championship.

“I guess it pretty close compares to what people say it is. The hills weren’t too dramatic, but just enough to get you prepared for cross country.”

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