E.A. Sports Today

Woodstock eyeing records in anniversary year

Anniston’s historic 5K race on pace for record field, perhaps fastest race as it turns 35

The Woodstock 5K logo takes on a new look this year. The rolling script in the name represents the hills on the historic course and the hands on the clock point to 3 and 5 to reflect the race's 35th anniversary. On the cover, Patrick Cheptoek hits the tape last year for his third straight win.

The Woodstock 5K logo takes on a new look this year. The rolling script in the name represents the hills on the historic course and the hands on the clock point to 3 and 5 to reflect the race’s 35th anniversary. On the cover, Patrick Cheptoek hits the tape last year for his third straight win.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There are two over/under numbers that would make this year’s 35th annual Woodstock 5K a truly memorable anniversary.

One is under 14 – as in under 14 minutes for the winning time. The other is over 15 – as in over 1,500 entries.

Both would be records for the historic run and both are within reach.

“I’d love it,” race director Haley Gregg said. “That’d be a great 35th anniversary prize right there.”

The second number – the entries – is more than halfway there and on a record pace.

As of Thursday there were more than 830 runners registered for the Aug. 1 race; a regular 5K would be lucky to draw a quarter of that. The record is a shade over 1,450.

In the 30-day period ending July 9, the race picked up 353 registrants; there were 288 in the same period last year. They picked up 193 in the seven days prior to Thursday; last year there were 97 in the same window.

Teams can register on-line through July 28. Individuals can register on-line through July 30, in person through packet pick-up day July 31.

“We’re crossing our fingers that trend is going to keep going, because if it does we might break a record, which would be awesome,” Gregg said. “We always love to see any kind of positive like that.

“I think our people forget this is a 5K race. People don’t travel like they would for a half marathon or a full marathon. You don’t see that, so the fact this run in Anniston, Alabama, draws this many people, that’s impressive.”

Part of the growth is the way runners have embraced the team element of the race. Alabama Power has assembled a 140-runner team, the pacesetter for the $750 participation prize. That growth has prompted race officials to consider separating the team registrations into private and corporate categories.

A record time, of course, is contingent on a number of factors, most notably the weather and course conditions and runners’ biorhythms, and Gregg wasn’t comfortable predicting one.

Patrick Cheptoek chased the record he set each of the previous two years last year, but missed the magic mark by 13 seconds while winning for a third year in a row. His course record is 14:05.

Everything from a race standpoint was perfect for doing it, he said, but he was feeling the effects of an ankle injury he suffered in training the weeks before. Still, he won by nearly a minute.

Race officials suspended its program for supplementing elite runners last year, but several still made their way to the starting line. Cheptoek hasn’t registered for this year’s race yet, but he has said he would always run in the Woodstock if his schedule allowed.

“This race is a big deal to me,” he told East Alabama Sports Today last year.

The race is the RRCA Southern Region Championship. Prize money of $500, $300 and $200 will be awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers and, of course, a $500 bonus for a record. The medals awarded to the division winners are made by the same company that does the medals for the New York and Boston marathons.

“This is the 35th anniversary for our run so we’re just proud about that within itself; it’s such an accomplishment to be around for 35 years,” Gregg said. “We’re going to try to keep putting on the best event we can. I really don’t know what else we can do.”

Race director Haley Gregg gets ready to address the runners during the awards ceremony of last year's Woodstock 5K.

Race director Haley Gregg gets ready to address the runners during the awards ceremony of last year’s Woodstock 5K.



You must be logged in to post a comment Login