Article by Abby Parks
The Woodstock 5K, now in its 41st year, is not only one of the oldest continuous foot races in the Southeast–this year’s race has been named the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Alabama State 5K Championship for 2022. With a USATF certified course dubbed “difficult” for its challenging hills, the race has typically drawn 1K-1.2K runners, both adults and children, to downtown Anniston, Alabama to participate. Last year they held their first race event since the pandemic had started, and numbers were down to about 700, but the ARC is cautiously optimistic that they’ll make the 1K goal this year. An added draw for this race will be the cash prizes offered to the male and female competitors that can break the current records.
The Record and Other Prizes
This year the ARC will be awarding an additional cash prize of $500 for the male and female winners–if they can beat the 10 year old record! This would bring the grand prize total to $1,000 per male/female winner. The record time to beat for males is 14:13, made by Patrick Choptoek in 2012. Females will need to beat the time made by Risper Gesabwa, also in 2012, of 16:06. The run-down of top prizes are:
- 1st Pl. Overall M/F……………………………..$500/each
- 2nd Pl. Overall M/F…………………………….$200/each
- 3rd Pl. Overall M/F……………………………..$100/each
- 1st Pl. Masters M/F (40+)……………………$50/each
- 1st Pl. Grandmasters M/F (50+)…………..$50/each
- 1st Pl. Senior Grandmasters M/F (60+)…$50/each
As it’s the Alabama 5K State Championship for 2022, the RRCA will be awarding Championship medals to the top three finishers, male and female, in each age category. And of course, there’s also the Kidstock 1K which awards the overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd male and female winner, as well as the winners in each age category: 1-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14.
For participants, there’s a souvenir Woodstock 5K T-shirt, the featured design being decided in a contest earlier this year. The winning design was created by Dan Seymour from Outer Limits Arts & Media. Participants will also receive a souvenir medal.
And back by popular demand, the Team Challenge offers awards for the team with the most participants ($300 cash prize), the team with the most team spirit (a trophy), and the fastest male/female/co-ed teams (trophies). Haley Long, the new Woodstock 5K race director, shared that many teams have registered, including high school teams from Lincoln, Central Clay County, Calhoun County, and more, plus alumni and coaches. She said, “The best thing about running is how you feel afterwards. It’s a team sport.” She should know, also being the head track and field coach for the Donoho School, as well as the organizer of their Falcon team, which will be competing in the Woodstock 5K.
Counting Down to Race Day
The start time for the Woodstock 5K is 7:30am on Saturday morning, August 6, and the end time is 10am. The course, which hasn’t changed since the race first began in 1980, begins in front of the Anniston High School, and then weaves through over 25 blocks of historic Anniston neighborhoods in somewhat of a Y-shape, finally ending just yards ahead of the starting line. The Kidstock 1K event follows at 9am. When both wrap up, the Awards ceremony is held in the High School auditorium at 10am.
The current price to register is $30 plus a $1.37 SignUp Fee ($15 for children + 0.94 SignUp), but that rate is about to change at 11:59pm CDT on Friday, July 15. From then on to race day, the rates will be $35 plus $1.52 Signup fee ($20 for children). Also, T-shirts are currently available on a first-come/first-serve basis. To lock in the lower rate, and shirt, it’s best to register now.
A Piece of Race History
The Woodstock 5K actually dates further back than 1986, when its name was changed to honor Woodstock Avenue, the main road the race is held on. At the time that the Anniston Running Club was forming in 1980, the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival was located in Anniston. In conjunction with it, a race was held called the Midsummer Morn 5K, sponsored by the Anniston Star. The ARC handled the support and promotion for the annual race up until the festival relocated to Montgomery in 1986. At that point, the ARC and Anniston Star mutually agreed that the ARC would host the race moving forward.
In recent years, the ARC has grown to 630+ members. The Woodstock 5K has regularly drawn participants from 9 southeastern states, as well as further ones like Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. It’s even attracted some runners from foreign countries in its history.
With sponsors like Sunny King Ford, the City of Anniston, the RRCA, the Calhoun County Commission, RMC, and more supporting this historical race, there’s no doubt that the ARC will live up to the promise of its mission statement: a commitment to promoting, encouraging, and fostering the love of running.