These thoughts are likely to be running through the minds of participants in Saturday’s Woodstock 5K. Except for the supremely fit, running and/or walking 3.1 miles is no leisurely stroll through the park. Whether a competitor is trying to bring his or her time to a 7-minute-a-mile pace or just attempting to cross the finish line in one piece, it requires effort. There’s bound to be sweat involved.
Yet, the load is lightened by sights and sounds — the fellow runners, the crowd of spectators, the neighborhood residents offering encouraging words and cooling water via sprinklers, the music, the food, the carnival atmosphere at the finish line and so on. If you are going to run in August, this is the way to do it.
And, after all, how often can a local athlete take a weekend run with a 1,200 or so companions?
There’s a lesson here, and it’s bigger than merely covering a 5K course. Actually, there’s more than one lesson.
The first relates to obesity and its awful side effects. Our state has too many residents whose inactive lifestyles endanger their health. The fixes to this problem — one we’ve labeled Our Big Problem — won’t come overnight. It begins as Alabamians are encouraged to get off the couch, lace up their shoes and join the fun at events like the Woodstock 5K. Slowly but surely — one person at a time — we can make this state healthier.
In another lesson, we are encouraged as a city navigating its way through rough times can come together for a stellar event. (Please note Saturday’s race is once again the Road Runners Club of America National 5K Championship.) Everyone who calls Anniston home, can be proud of the Woodstock 5K.
Let’s not forget the engine driving this operation. The secret to the Woodstock 5K’s success is army of volunteers that keep the race running smoothly. They organize training runs months out from the big day. They recruit sponsorships. They arrange to keep participants hydrated, fed, cooled off and entertained. They devote countless hours to ensuring that race day runs smoothly.
And this year the Woodstock’s volunteers have added new events, including live music at the finish line, vendors, a farmers market and weekend-long cycling/running opportunities on Coldwater Mountain.
These motivated leaders show us what positive outlooks and cooperation can accomplish, in a road race, yes, but also in the larger aspects of civic life.
For all this, we thank them. And we are reminded of what it takes to make our entire region better: One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. One more degree closer to the finish.