In a recent letter to the editor in The Anniston Star, Saks resident Ralph Usrey invited everyone in the area to participate in Anniston Runners Club’s signature race, the historic Woodstock 5K, which will take place for the 34th year at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Usrey noted the importance of this race and thanked specific club members for their support when his daughter, Lori, was beginning her career as a runner. Lori went on to be a state champion in high school, a record setter in college and is now a track coach, motivating other youth to run, just like club members did for her years ago.

But Usrey did not stop with his note of appreciation for his daughter’s experience. He also thanked the club for providing Anniston the opportunity to attend “the best 5K in the state.”

His letter was on my mind as I ran trails up on Cheaha Mountain this week. Usrey made me think about all the reasons local residents should participate in the Woodstock 5K, whether running it or walking it, volunteering for it or being a spectator. Before I finished my run (which is when I do my best thinking), I had compiled a list of five reasons you should come to the event – as a runner, walker, volunteer or spectator.

Why come to Woodstock?

  1. It’s a good tradition: The Woodstock 5K has grown from 79 runners in 2005 to close to 1,500 runners each year, transcending being “just a run” and becoming instead a true community happening. An event where parents, who used to pound the pavement of the Woodstock course while racing for their own glory, now stand on grassy hills or concrete sidewalks to cheer on their children, encouraging them to complete the Woodstock 5K or the Kidstock fun run.

  2. It’s good for the community: Ramp up an area’s Quality of Life Index and you increase the appeal of living there. The Woodstock 5K is a longstanding fitness-related event on an ever-growing calendar of running and cycling opportunities in our area, making Calhoun County a great place to live, work, run and cycle.

  3. It’s good for you: Running and walking are proven ways to increase fitness and decrease weight. Everyone is aware that the United States, especially the southern states, has an obesity epidemic. According to Anniston Runners Club’s mission statement, the club is committed to doing its part to decrease that epidemic by promoting, encouraging and fostering the love of running, and by promoting the healthy benefits of running and mentoring new runners. You go, club!

  4. It’s good fun: Getting up early on a Saturday morning in the hot, humid August weather may not sound like fun, but something happens on race day. Maybe it’s the booming race music blasting from the massive start and finish line towers. Maybe it’s the nervous energy from a multitude of runners. Maybe it’s the excitement of the first timers. Or maybe it’s all of it – the hoopla that is Woodstock. But on race morning, fun is guaranteed. It’s a party going on for 3.1 miles on a wild rollercoaster ride through the Rocky Hollow neighborhood.

  5. For the hash browns: Hey, a runner has to eat, and there’s nothing better than a fresh dose of Waffle House’s scattered hash browns as a reward for finishing a race.

At the start of the summer, people may not know where they are going on their vacations, but most know where they will be on the first Saturday in August. The summer turns on the Woodstock 5K. And you are invited to attend.


How to volunteer: Ronnie Roberson is the volunteer coordinator. Just shoot him an email and let him know when you can volunteer:

How to register: Note: There is no race-day registration. Last chance to register is on Friday evening at the packet pickup at Anniston High School.

How to spectate: The race starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Arrive early, because the Anniston High School parking lot gets full fast. You may want to park at Parker Memorial Baptist Church on Quintard Avenue and walk over to the race area on Woodstock Avenue. Make sure you do not go onto the race course (in the street) once the race has begun. You would hate to be the reason someone didn’t make their race goal.

How to keep running: The Woodstock 5K is just one of many races the Anniston Runners Club hosts each year. Find out more about the club and how to get fit with local runners and walkers at