E.A. Sports Today

Woodstock going national

Annual August 5K returns to the RRCA National Championship calendar in 2023

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It takes a lot to knock Hayley Long off her fast feet, but it happened one day last week with the arrival of some big news that impacts the future of the Woodstock 5K.

The annual August race is back on the national championship schedule as the RRCA released its full 2023 National Championship Series calendar with the Woodstock the 5K national championship race.

Next year’s race will take place Aug. 5, maintaining its traditional date of the first Saturday in August. This year’s race is Aug. 6.

“I about fell out of my chair when they called and messaged me,” Long, this year’s Woodstock race director, said. “I was shaking. I didn’t think it would happen this fast. I thought it would take a couple of years for us to get that bid again.”

This will be the sixth time the Woodstock has been designated as the national championship, but the first time since 2018. Since then, with the exception of the COVID cancelation in 2020, it has been the state championship 5K.

It was the RRCA Road Race of the Year in 2008.

“We kind of lost our way there for a few years and I just can’t believe we’ve turned it around,” Long said. “We’re just a community event and they feel like we’re on the path again to supporting and being able to handle a national championship. After everything’s that gone on and the way we’ve built the race this year they felt like we needed to have it again.” 

The national designation will allow the race to grow in quantity and quality, expanding the field size and drawing more elite-level runners. The Woodstock has drawn more than 1,600 entries when it was a national championship race in the past.

The other RRCA National Championship races in 2023 will be held in Washington, D.C. (10 Mile); Toledo, Ohio (Marathon); Newport Beach, Cal. (Half Marathon); St. Louis (One Mile); Tahoe City, Cal. (50K); and Coos Bay, Ore. (10K)

The seven races in the series are expected to draw more than 28,000 runners combined, the RRCA said. RRCA Championship Events receive sponsorship support from the governing body, but local officials will be ramping up their efforts for a corporate title sponsor as well.

This year’s race already has exceeded last year’s entries, which was Long’s biggest goal in her first year as race director. With the opening gun nine days away, the race has drawn 774 entries for both the Kidstock and Woodstock races from 10 states and a foreign country, more than 150 ahead of where they were last year at this time. There were 772 total entries last year.

“We’re going to get to the 800 mark, for sure,” Long said. “For this year, 8’s my lucky number. I’ll be happy with an 800 number.”

The national championship designation is sure to be a popular topic at tonight’s final practice for this year’s Woodstock. On Saturday, the Anniston Runners Club will hold its 10th annual Remembrance Race in memory of those they’ve lost during the year, a free race effectively a Woodstock practice with the clock.

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