Health & Fitness

High school star cruises to 5K win at The Cowtown; men’s 10K winner now 3-time champ

Runners fill the start and corrals for the Cowtown 5K run at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The two day event includes 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon and an ultra marathon. (Star-Telegram Bob Booth)
Runners fill the start and corrals for the Cowtown 5K run at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The two day event includes 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon and an ultra marathon. (Star-Telegram Bob Booth) Bob Booth

If you didn’t have impressive credentials you could forget about having a chance at winning the 5K and 10K races at Cowtown Saturday.

The 10K winners now include a three-time champion and an elite marathoner whose time qualified her for the United States Olympic trials. As for the 5K, all you had to beat was one of the best high school track athletes in the country.

It was that kind of day led by Fort Worth resident Caitlin Keen, who won the women’s 10K with a time of 37 minutes, 58 seconds. It was the first Cowtown 10K for Keen, who went to high school at Nolan Catholic and ran track at SMU. She’s running in the half marathon Sunday and figures to be one of the favorites there.

In December Keen met the qualifying standard for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials with a marathon time of 2:42.31.

“I was a 10K runner in college and I haven’t run a 10K in a while and I was trying to jumpstart my training again,” Keen said. “I’ve been training for marathons for over a year and I just wanted to have some fun. I ran three marathons in the course of a year and I wanted do something a little outside of my comfort zone. It was great. I didn’t put any expectations out there today.”

Keen beat her Fort Worth Distance Project teammate Kristin Garcia (38:56) by nearly a minute.

The men’s 10K winner was a familiar one. Finland’s Antti-Pekka Niinisto, 28, won the race for the third time in the last six years, with a time of 32:03. He set the record in the event three years ago but didn’t even know if he was going to be able to compete Saturday.

Niinisto came to Texas to start his vacation but had the flu Monday and didn’t start feeling better until Thursday. He didn’t have any problems Saturday, though, as he beat Patrick Leary (32:44) for the win. Those two runners were more than three minutes ahead of the third-place finisher.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to run until this morning,” said Niinisto, 28, whose record at the event it 30:53. “It was tough today. I didn’t want to quit. I just wanted to get out there and run. I wanted to be able to start fast and I started quite fast. The last 5K was really tough out there for me.”

There was nothing tough for the men’s 5K winner Graydon Morris. Morris, a junior at Aledo, didn’t even register for the race until Saturday morning. But he blew through the course in 16:09, 50 seconds faster than Charles Dorsett.

The results should come as no surprise as Morris has won the last two UIL cross country state titles as well as the track and field state titles in the 3200 and 1600-meter races. He finished third in the Foot Locker Nationals and spent last weekend in Trinidad and Tobago representing the U.S. junior team.

But Cowtown is special for him.

“My cross country season just ended,” said Morris, who hadn’t raced at Cowtown since eighth grade, but did win the kids 5K. “I’ve been running the Cowtown since elementary school and it’s always such a fun race. I figured I might as well hop in and just go run it for fun. It’s a local race but it feels like one of the major 5K races in the world.”

Cowtown newcomer Virginia Wallace was the other 5K winner Saturday, taking the women’s 5K with a time of 18:44.

The Houston native now lives in Fort Worth and trains with Keen. She beat Haven Sizemore (19:43) by nearly a minute as she led from the start and averaged 6:02 a mile.

“When I came to Fort Worth I joined the team [Fort Worth Distance Project] and this is their staple race,” said Wallace, 24. “It was a great event. I was surprised how smooth this event is. My goal was to come here and win.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments