The climb from a race with 79 runners in 2006 to this year's national championship event with a record registration of 1,024 occurred in just four years. It's fair to call that remarkable.
Each year, the race drew a higher designation from the Road Runners Club of America: the state 5K championship in 2007, the Southern Region 5K championship in 2008, and the national 5K event for this year.
The climb in RRCA-recognized status ends there. Organizers have applied to get back the Southern Region designation for next year, but the national 5K championship goes to Lakeland, Fla.
But Woodstock backers don't see a return to what the race was before its recent climb. Not close.
"I see more and more," race director Brooke Nelson said. "Next year is the 30th anniversary of the Woodstock 5K, and I'm thinking maybe a theme of peace, love and running."
The joke came toward the end of a long day at the race Saturday, a long day that followed several long months of planning to make a national championship event work in Anniston.
But Nelson's message seemed to be that the area community of runners — which made up the majority of the race's field — remains energized.
"We all have a very high energy level," Nelson said. "It's not hard at all to get us excited about things."
The foundation of Woodstock's rise was an energized running community.
It started in 2006, when the Anniston Runners Club revived its grand prix series. Area races became points races again, and points winners in different age groups win awards at year's end.
The ARC also boosted communications with a beefed up Web site and e-mailed newsletters. That continued, even after original Webmaster John Moore left that role because of sustained demands on his time.
This year saw Nelson, the 2007 RRCA club president of the year, relinquish that role to concentrate on Woodstock. Current president Dennis Dunn keeps inboxes flooded with newsletters about club news, and Nelson keeps members in the loop about Woodstock news.
The ARC has grown from 49 members in 2005 to nearly 637 since reviving the grand prix series and boosting communications.
The membership surge has been felt at Woodstock. Nelson crunched numbers in 2008 and determined that nearly 60 percent of 600 runners in last year's Woodstock came from Calhoun County or surrounding areas.
She crunched numbers again this year, when registration stood at about 700 runners, and said the percentage came out the same.
This comes despite a deeper elite field drawn by the national championship designation. Top overall finisher Ryan Woods and top female Stephanie Pezzullo live in North Carolina.
"I think we picked up a few more, maybe, from out of state, but I would venture to guess it (percentage of runners from the area) came out pretty close to the same," Nelson said Saturday. "Part of it is I think we did a great job of promoting it as not just a running race or championship event.
"We promoted it as anybody at any level."
Among promotions was Couch to 5K. It offered a two-month training program designed to help amateurs ramp up to handling the 5K or 3.1-mile distance, and the ARC held regular group training runs.
Another draw for area runners is the team challenge, which started last year. Businesses and other groups can field teams, with winners based on the average time among the group's top five finishers.
Pell City product and Jacksonville State University runner Matt Brick led a group called the Oxford Buzz to victory Saturday. Besides Brick, the group consisted of Oxford High School runners.
The Woodstock also continues to offer trophies for the top three runners in several age groups. This year, organizers added divisions for men 200 pounds and up and women 140 pounds and up.
The annual Kidstock 1-mile fun run drew 107 runners for this year's event, and many of their parents also run the Woodstock.
With so many incentives and other draws for amateur runners and the ARC's growth, it's hard to see the group's signature race dropping back to anywhere near 2005 levels.
Even as the national road runners club moves its state, regional and national championship designations, Woodstock would seem to have enough foundation behind it to remain an up-sized race ready to handle RRCA championships.
RRCA executive director Jean Knaack, who fired the starting gun for Saturday's race and ran it, seems to agree.
"I would give them a very positive recommendation to the selection panel," she said.
Joe Medley is The Star's sports columnist. He can be reached at 235-3576 or email@example.com