Saturday was the first time Tomlin had ever run in Anniston’s Woodstock 5K — or any 5K for that matter. She and her friend Lisa Cook finally decided to enter the race this year after learning many of their fellow Regional Medical Center co-workers would be running.
“I’ve just been walking and jogging to prepare … our goal is just to survive and finish,” Tomlin said with a laugh.
Tomlin made it across the finish line and lived to tell the tale.
She was one of more than 1,500 people to participate — a record-number of runners for the 32-year-old event, organized each year by the Anniston Runners Club. All proceeds from the event went to United Cerebral Palsy and the Special Olympics.
The race began at 7:30 a.m. and though temperatures had not reached the 80s, it felt much hotter and miserable due to the high humidity. Still, the participants faced the challenge of the muggy weather and the 3.1 mile-long course with smiles on their faces. Many wore official Woodstock 5K shirts, while others wore special shirts to represent their running teams. Some participants brought their pet dogs to join in on the fun while a few moms brought their children in strollers. Nearby, vendors had food and other products available.
For some, Woodstock was a chance to race worthy opponents, while for others, the 5K represented personal fitness goals. But for many, the event was just a chance to get outside and have some fun.
Mary Ann Crow of Anniston was at Woodstock Saturday for her fifth year in a row. Crow said she got involved with Woodstock first through working at Jacksonville Medical Center and now through work at RMC.
“And I love to walk so I support this,” Crow said.
Saturday was the first time Crow brought her 13-year-old daughter Lydia and two very large English mastiffs to the event.
“I’ve noticed other people brought their dogs to previous Woodstocks so I decided to bring mine,” Crow said.
Participating in Woodstock for her second year was Michele Butler of Anniston, along with her daughter and two friends. However, Butler and her crew were no ordinary runners. For their second year in a row, the group ran as Woodstock’s designated last-place finishers. The group wore pink tutus and carried multi-colored balloons so other runners could identify them.
Butler said last year was the first time Woodstock had any designated last-place finishers.
“Nobody else has to worry about being last and if you are a little slow, we’ll help you along,” Butler said, smiling while making a pushing motion.
Butler said it was important to encourage everyone at Woodstock, not just those who were trying to win the race.
“There are a lot of people coming up the rear with more reasons to be there than not and they should be commended,” Butler said.
Mike Dickert of Anniston spent several minutes pouring water on his head under the shade of a tree after he finished the 5K. Dickert said Saturday was his third time at Woodstock, but was not his best race.
“I was a little slower and didn’t race as well — I think it was the muggy weather and a lack of training,” Dickert said.
Dickert said a friend first encouraged him to run in Woodstock.
“It’s fun and there is a lot of fellowship,” he said. “What everyone in the community needs to understand is they should do this instead of sitting at home watching cartoons on Saturday.”
Michael Boiling, a member of the Anniston Runners Club, also did not finish Woodstock as quickly as in previous years.
“It was just a lack of preparation,” Boiling said. “Last year, I was training three times per week, but this year, my work schedule didn’t permit that.”
Boiling said he’d been running in the Woodstock since 1995, a year when only about 80 runners participated. He’s delighted by the growth since then.
“This is fantastic,” he said.
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star