When to arrive
The Woodstock 5K starts at 7:30 a.m. directly in front of Anniston High School on Woodstock Avenue and continues through several streets such as Christine Avenue and Rocky Hollow Road. Dunn recommends spectators get there by 7 a.m. “You want to have enough time to pick a spot where you can watch the race and get settled in because at 7:30 a.m. they start to run down the hill,” Dunn said. “At 7:45 a.m., those first runners are coming through and the rest finish about 15 minutes later.”
Where to park
With such a large crowd and street closures, Dunn said more parking would be available in lots as opposed to side streets. “We discourage people from parking on the street because that’s where the runners will be,” Dunn said. “We’ve moved a lot of things out of the Anniston High School parking lot onto the main campus of the school, and it opened up more parking there. We also have parking available at Parker Memorial Baptist Church.”
What to expect
“The typical runner is going to take around 30 minutes to run the course, so it doesn’t last very long,” Dunn said. “Last year, the first place winner finished in 14 minutes and everything happened pretty quickly.”
Once the designated last place finishers aka the balloon girls cross the finish line, the fun shifts down the street and inside Anniston High School. “They run the race and then everything seems to move down the block towards the finish line,” said R.D. Downing, owner of Downing’s General Store downtown. “Within an hour, everyone’s mostly gone.”
Kidstock 1 mile
After the Woodstock 5K race ends, spectators can watch kids ages 14 and under compete in the annual Kidstock 1 Mile at 8:30 a.m. The race begins and ends on Woodstock Avenue with turns on Christine Avenue and 15th Street. Every child is given a medal when they cross the finish line. But awards and trophies are also given to the top three winners in different age groups.
Best vantage point for start
According to Downing, whose house sits directly at the start line, the best view to see the biggest crowd is on 14th Street and Woodstock Avenue. “But if you want to sit anywhere along the route, then you’ll pretty much see everyone run.” Dunn also added that although spectators won’t see the race participants finish there, the benefit of watching on those streets is hearing the Anniston High School band play the National Anthem.
Best vantage point for finish
Stevens suggested the best place to stand is just before the finish line on Woodstock Avenue and 12th Street down the hill. “They usually have fold out bleachers at the finish line,” Stevens said. “People are on both sides of the road cheering and the music is blaring.”
To see runners make their last turn, the best place is on Woodstock Avenue and Rocky Hollow Road. “The students and Anniston High School football players are usually there cheering for the runners,” Dunn said. “We’d like to have as many people on Woodstock Avenue as possible for those runners that are looking up the hill wondering if they can make it. Seeing all those people on both sides of the road yelling and cheering would be a good thing for the runners.”
The awards ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in Anniston High School’s Performing Arts Center. Food will be catered by Waffle House and Mellow Mushroom. Cash prizes will be awarded, as well as trophies, team awards and the National 5K Championship award.
In all his years as announcer for the Woodstock 5K, Stevens said he has “never seen anyone cross the finish line without smiling” and that the race is a “great thing for the community.”
“It’s just great to see everyone engaged in exercise and doing something they push themselves to do,” Downing said. “There are people running, walking, on bicycles and in wheelchairs. It’s just one of the great events of the year.”
“Probably five or 10 years ago, the race was thought of as a race for runners, but now I think we’ve made that transition in it being a community event where people can come out and raise money for charity and have a good time,” Dunn added. “Whether they’re runners, supporters, spectators, sponsors or vendors, we want everyone there. It’s very important for the future of Woodstock and what it’s about, and it shows how this community can come together and do something positive.”
What to do after
Just before the awards ceremony, spectators can visit vendors, listen to music or a grab a bite to eat or drink. “If people want to just walk around, there will be some interesting displays there,” Dunn said. “We may have arts and crafts, but most of it will be tailored to someone who wants to exercise and run. So, it’ll be a lot of healthy things there, too.”
In addition to watching the race, spectators can listen to the sounds of Caribbean music before and after courtesy of local steel drum band JAXPAN. For runners on the course, Habel & Spree will play music at the corner of 19th Street and Christine Avenue.
“It’s a party atmosphere with music pumping and people cheering dressed in costumes,” said Steve Stevens, Woodstock 5K announcer and radio personality of The Steve and Julie Morning Show on Oxford’s 97.9 (K98) WVOK station. “It’s like several huge block parties at one time.”