Woodstock 5K route marked as historic
by Paige Rentz
The Woodstock 5K race can celebrate its 33rd year in style.

Designated a historic route by the Anniston Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council, Woodstock’s start and finish lines have been marked as such with new signs erected today by city workers.

“I can’t tell you the elation I’m experiencing just reading this; it’s just beautiful,” said Nancy Grace, president of the Anniston Runners Club, which sponsors the race.

The signs, located on Woodstock Avenue at 12th and 14th streets, boast of the race’s status as one of the oldest continuous footraces in the Southeast, whose route “rollercoasters through the historic neighborhoods around Anniston High School.”

Brooke Nelson, former race director and Anniston Runners Club board member, said the idea to mark the race route came from her first run in the Boston Marathon, where her husband noticed signs designating the marathon’s route. Nelson approached the Historic Preservation Commission last summer with the idea to do the same for Woodstock, and members agreed with Nelson about the route’s historic nature due to its age and the neighborhood it runs through.

The marathon route’s designation, she said, seemed to be a point of pride for locals and fostered “a symbiotic relationship between the Boston Marathon course and the people that lived along it, which is the same thing that we’ve tried to really foster and nurture with the Woodstock course.”

Nelson said the people who live along the Woodstock 5K route have been very supportive of the race. She added that members of the Rocky Hollow Neighborhood Association, which formed last year, have been handing out water and cheering runners as they train.

The City Council supported the designation and paid for the new signs. Finance director Danny McCullars said they cost the city $3,565.

“It’s a testament to our community's commitment, the runners club’s commitment, the city’s commitment to this race,” said Haley Gregg, this year’s race director. “We’re definitely going to play it up at the race,” she added of the new designation.

“With the continued effort to improve the quality of life in the Rocky Hollow neighborhood, it was kind of a perfect fit,” said Councilman Jay Jenkins, who represents Ward 1.

“The neighborhood has embraced the race,” he said. “The race should embrace the neighborhood.”

Jenkins said he wants to continue to mark the route with signs at quarter-mile intervals so that the course is clearly designated for runners.

“I want folks from out of town to be able to come in and run the route without any assistance from a training perspective,” he said.

Over the race’s three decades, it has grown to host more than 1,500 runners and has been designated as a national championship race by the Road Runners Club of America four of the past five years. Gregg said the race is on track to have at least 1,500 runners again next month.

“To see it continue to grow into being the best race in the Southeast,” added Grace, “what else can you ask for the club and the community?”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

© 2013