Woodstock 5 Miler set for ninth running

Running enthusiasts from Shenandoah County will gather at the County Office Building in Woodstock Saturday morning for a five-mile run that doubles as a small fundraiser for local causes.

This is the ninth year that Central High School cross country coach Larry Bullock and W.W. Robinson Elementary instructional assistant Elena Pence have organized the Woodstock 5 Miler, and they expect around 50 people to run each year.

Pence said they have about 32 runners pre-registered for the event as of last week, but more participants typically join the morning of the race. Entry fees are $20 for the general public and $19 for members of the Shenandoah Valley Runners, and the proceeds go toward local Shenandoah families in need.

In past years, the Woodstock 5 Miler has donated money to the Red Cross, the Woodstock Fire Department, the county animal shelter and a scholarship in memory of Jason Long, a local runner and participant in the 2008 Olympic trials who died in 2010.

Pence became aware of families coming through hard times and decided to focus the run’s efforts toward them this year.

Runners will follow an up and back course on Water Street and Moose Road between bends in the Shenandoah River, and while it’s accessible to runners of all levels, it involves a certain amount of rolling hills. Walkers will start the course at 7:30 a.m. and runners will take off at 8, rain or shine.

“It’s a beautiful course, and we just like to see people have a good time and enjoy the run,” Pence said.

Part of the admission fee money goes toward event T-shirts for runners registered before June, post-run water and snacks as well as trophies and medals for top male and female runners in age brackets.

According to the Shenandoah Valley Runners website, the Woodstock 5 Miler is one of more than 30 races the group sponsors in the Shenandoah Valley area. The next race the Runners will be involved in is the 15th annual Liberty 5K on July 4th in Winchester’s Jim Barnett Park.

Bullock, who has been with the Shenandoah Valley Runners since 2003, said the group was all too willing to sponsor the race when he proposed it in 2007.

“It’s been a great partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Runners,” he said. “They’ve always been very receptive with helping me out with the race insurance.”

Bullock said he and Pence wanted to create a race specifically for Woodstock, which at the time had no other running event.

A handful of volunteers come out to help with the race, recording the results for the awards ceremony.

“Without those people it wouldn’t nearly run as smoothly and successfully,” Bullock said. “I appreciate the help that they’ve given.”

While Pence and Bullock are happy to see the proceeds go to worthy causes, Pence said it started out simply as an opportunity for local race lovers to get together and enjoy themselves.

“It’s a race to have a race for the runners,” she said.

Find out more about the Woodstock 5 Miler and the Shenandoah Valley Runners at http://svrunners.org/calendar/woodstock-5-miler-2/.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com