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Anniston’s Woodstock 5K

Vincent Kiprop wins Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K, finishing in 14:37. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Vincent Kiprop wins Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K, finishing in 14:37. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Anniston, AL – Vincent Kiprop overall winner, Esther GItahi top female in RRCA’s 5K national championship. White Plains’ Conn third overall female.

Esther Gitahi was the top female finisher in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Esther Gitahi was the top female finisher in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley

Vincent Kiprop and Esther Gitahi are national 5K champions after Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K. Maddyn Conn looked ready to defender her Class 4A Alabama high school cross country championship.

Kiprop was the overall winner, finishing the Road Runners Club of America’s 5K national championship in 14:37, 24 seconds off of the 2012 event record. Gitahi crossed the finish line in front of Anniston High School in 16:48 and finished 24th overall.

Conn, the White Plains High School standout, was the third female, finishing in 19:00. She was 23 seconds back of second-place finisher Joy Miller.

A total of 1,139 runners registered for the Woodstock 5K and Kidstock 1-mile run, with 1,070 signing up for the 5K and 921 finishing the race on Anniston’s historic course. Results can be found on this link.

Put on by the Anniston Runners Club, the Woodstock served as the RRCA’s 5K national championship for the sixth time and first since 2018.

The top three female and male finishers in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K take their places on the podium at Anniston High School. (Photo by Joe Medley)
The top three female and male finishers in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K take their places on the podium at Anniston High School. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Entering her junior year at White Plains, Conn hopes to finish the season as a back-to-back state champion. She finished last year’s 4A state meet in 18:59.61 and won by 27 seconds.

“I just so want to beat that 18:59 at state,” Conn said.

White Plains High School’s Maddyn Conn receives her medal as third-place overall female in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K. (Photo by Joe Medley)
White Plains High School’s Maddyn Conn receives her medal as third-place overall female in Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Conn’s top-three Woodstock finish Saturday was tops among local runners. She sliced 43 seconds off of her third-place time from 2022.

“The first mile, I started out pretty fast,” he said. “As soon as I got done around the mile, it started to keep going up hill, and I was like, ‘Time to slow it down.’

“After I got over that, I wanted to finish out strong.”

Conn and her White Plains teammates also won largest team and fastest female team awards.

As for overall winners, both are Kenyans who live in the United States.

Kiprop, from Kapkitony, Kenya,

He won silver in the junior race at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships, finished ninth at the 2009 Worlds and seventh at the 2009 World Athletics final. He scored a major 5,000-meter victory on the 2010 IAAF Diamond League circuit, winning the British Grand Prix.

Kiprop came through the RRCA’s Run-Pro Camp, competed for the University of Alabama and lives in Tuscaloosa.

His home land is known for Rift Valley, a training ground for some of the world’s top distance runners, but the Woodstock newcomer found the hills on Woodstock’s course plenty challenging.

“Those hills were brutal,” he said. “The last one was the brutal one, because I didn’t expect it to be there. … Compared to what we have back home, this one is bigger.”

Kiprop, 28, beat second-place finisher David Too, also 28 who’s working on a Master’s degree at Florida A&M, by 28 seconds. Third-place finisher Andy Smith, a Birmingham native who lives in Nashville, Tenn., was five seconds behind Too, in 15:10.

Gitahi, 25, from Nakuru, Kenya, competed for the University of Alabama and earned All-America honors in the 5,000-meter run. She Competed in the East Africa Games and Kenya national track and cross country championships while in high school.

Through Woodstock race director Hayley Long, Gitahi declined an invitation to come to the media tent for postrace interviews.

RRCA executive director Jean Knaack praised Long’s work.

“Good race directors make everything seem flawless for the participants and the spectators,” she said. “They really nailed that.

“The number of participants was fantastic for a 5K in Northeast Alabama in August. It’s great. The community spirit around this race is amazing. I go to races all over the country, and I just love this race because the community really comes out, and they participate, and they sponsor and volunteer.”

Vincent Kiprop wins Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K, finishing in 14:37. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Vincent Kiprop wins Saturday’s 42nd Woodstock 5K, finishing in 14:37. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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