Spring is just around the corner (Run Report #71)

It was a beautiful morning for a parkrun. Sunny most of the time, and as our short mid-Atlantic winter starts to wind down, we’re acclimated enough that 34 degrees feels kind of warm. I could have sworn that when I asked if there were any newcomers to parkrun not so many hands went up but according to the results we had 19 first-timers in a field of 107 parkrunners. This doesn’t include the 5 “unknowns” we had this week. While nobody will be turned away, if you want to get your results and see them posted and counted we encourage you to sign up for your free parkrun barcode. The sooner you are official the sooner you start your count to a 50 run shirt. (More on that below.)


We were pleased to see lots of people enjoying a walk on the trail this week. We have ‘run’ in our name, but as long as you can cover 5k by foot, and enjoy doing it in the company of our supportive community, then you’ll fit right in.


Among this week’s first timers was a group of UMD ROTC Cadets, led by Kristina McKenna. They had a great time, and they’re looking to come back soon with lots of other young ladies from their battalion. Also, a big high five is in order for Gary Madsen, who completed his first ever 5k at College Park parkrun this week. Congratulations, Gary, and we look forward to many more.



This week we recognized Junjie (JJ) Su, volunteer extraordinaire, as the College Park parkrunner of the month. JJ is a grad student at UMD who started parkrunning with us last June, and since then he has run 18 times and volunteered at least 15 times, stepping up to help in *all* weathers. Just as important, JJ spreads smiles and encouragement wherever he goes, especially in his regular role as timekeeper. This week JJ and Win Persina were our timekeeping team and a special thanks goes out to them for work above and beyond the call of duty in quickly defusing a conflict in the finish chute. Win was also doing her 10th volunteer stint at parkrun, putting her well on the way to the coveted purple 25-time volunteer shirt.


No official parkrun milestones this week, but lots of people are reaching unofficial milestones. Tsegaab Hailemichael and Lauren Supina both did their 25th parkruns this week - halfway to 50! Bonnie McClellan did her 10th, showing the youngsters how it’s done. Trace Huard also did his 10th parkrun -- great way to celebrate a birthday! 5 parkrunners joined the College Park parkrun 5-club this week: Ashley Ward, Abe Cutler, Jules Russell, Maia Swisdak, and Adrian Dover. Maia deserves special mention because it was her first time as a volunteer - she and her dad, Marc, were your tailwalkers this week, and Maia also was a roving photographer. Adrian deserves another kind of shout out, as he is the first international parkrun tourist to join our 5-timer club. Adrian normally does his parkruns at Newent parkrun, in the west of England, but he is a regular visitor to the area, and has adopted us as a kind of second home parkrun. When Adrian first joined us, on Christmas Eve 2016, we had just 25 finishers. We’ve grown a little since then.



In miscellaneous acts of speediness, congrats are due to Erin Munsell, who set another PB on her 21st parkrun. Andreu Orell was back for the second week in a row and proceeded to break the age-category record that he set last week. Nice going! In doing this he made a valiant effort to outrun Clark Ridge. No cigar on that one, but Andreu did succeed in pulling Clark to his fastest run in 10 months.


As usual, we are grateful to our wonderful volunteers. In addition to JJ, Win, Maia, and Marc, this week’s parkrun was brought to you by Andrea Zukowski, Anna Tinemore, Bernard Kelly, Colin Phillips, Enrique Jograj, Hump Plotts, Julie Russell, and Lisa Wilson. Extra thanks to Jonathan Foley for stepping in to help out as a second barcode scanner when things got busy, and thank you to Nina McGranahan for taking over as finish photographer. Bernard has been a very regular volunteer in the past couple of months, and we’re excited that he’ll soon be returning as a runner. Bernard got injured after returning home for the Dublin Marathon in the Fall, and since then he has been one of our most regular volunteers. He’ll get an extra cheer next time that he runs.


We have some upcoming attractions to share with you. Next week, February 24th, will be Andrea Zukowski’s 50th parkrun. As many of you know, Andrea is the mama of College Park parkrun, who got it all started, and who is thrilled to see you all every week. Do come out to celebrate Andrea next week. And it looks like warmer weather too, so even more reasons to come out.


March 24th is the official launch of Kensington parkrun, our sister event, on the Rock Creek Trail. College Park parkrun will definitely go ahead as usual that day, but we won’t be offended if you pack up your barcode and head over to Kensington to check out their scenic double out-and back route. That will be the first of a series of new parkrun launches in the early Spring. The following week (March 31st) parkrun will arrive in Boston, at Jamaica Pond parkrun. And the following weekend should see the launch of the world’s highest parkrun - watch this space for more news.

See you soon,
Chris McGranahan and Colin Phillips


Double Birthday (Run Report #69)

This wasn’t the first week College Park parkrunners chose to celebrate their birthday with us, but this week’s double birthdays were particularly fun. Ben Flamm didn’t know it was Violet’s birthday, nor did he know that Violet loves donuts, but he brought donuts to celebrate his own birthday. Likewise, Violet didn’t know it was Ben’s birthday, but by choosing to come to parkrun on her own birthday, she reined in her speedy dad Clark, which gave Ben the pleasure of being First Finisher on his 43rd birthday. Perfect.


We tipped our hats to Kensington parkrun in honor of their first practice run just before our start by having everyone make a K with their bodies, with mixed success. We'll have another chance to do this for the official launch on March. 24th, so practice those Ks!


In other fun this week, on his 30th parkrun, Mayor Patrick Wojahn brought his mom Karen for her second visit to our event. She lives in Wisconsin, and asked when there’s going to be a parkrun there. Karen, at the rate parkrun USA is growing (namely: doubling the number of events and participants every year), that’s bound to happen soon!


John Wilkerson’s run this week puts him in the College Park 25-club, and Cathy Madsen and Carrie Murphy both joined the now-enormous College Park 5-club. Frank Filteau ran his 49th parkrun this week, and you know what that means … a celebration this week! Among our 11 PBs this week, two are standouts, because the more parkruns you do, the harder it is to top your best: Xinzi He managed a PB on her 18th parkrun, and Dom Blom clocked one on her 40th parkrun!

Our volunteers are wonderful every week, but we're even more appreciative when they come out to support you on days as cold as this, when the mercury was barely at 20 degrees. Thanks to Will Bobseine, Gus Campbell, Diana Gough, Nick Huang, Rumi Matsuyama, Hump Plotts, Mark Shroder, Chenae White, and Susan Whitney. And of course we would be nowhere without the on-course help every week of Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson, especially on these cold, cold days. If you haven't tried your hand yet at volunteering at College Park parkrun, do drop us a line at collegeparkhelpers@parkrun.com. It's fun, and it's a great way to give back. 

Great weather in store for this weekend, so we'll see you there!

Andrea Zukowski
Run Director


Thank you, Mother Nature (Run Report #68)

Every College Park parkrun is fun, no matter what we encounter. One week it’s Quidditch. Another week it’s horse poop. Recently we’ve had the challenge of extreme cold. We persevered, thanks to fleece, long underwear, and hothands. And teamwork. We looked out for one another and jumped in if anyone needed a break. It gave us the chance to be the best we could be: a well-functioning, caring, and quick-thinking team.

But enough is enough. Last week I contacted the Weather Complaint Department and gave them a piece of my mind. Prior to this past Saturday, I had run directed 3 times, and each time the weather was, shall we say, less than desirable. January 27th was going to be my final RD opportunity at College Park for the foreseeable future. It seemed only fair, I argued, that I be granted sunny skies and mild January temperatures. The WCD contacted Mother Nature. She agreed that we deserved a beautiful Saturday. And Ma Nature made it happen.


When the sun comes out and temperatures inch towards 45 on a January morning, DC-area parkrunners come out en masse. We had 139 parkrunners last Saturday, the 3rd highest College Park attendance. The only two parkruns to have had higher attendance were Founder’s Day (Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s visit, n=180, run #33) and UMD Homecoming Day (n=158, run #55). January 27th, 2018 is now the attendance leader for a typical, run-of-the-mill, nothing-special-happening parkrun.


But there was something special going on, even if it was low-key. January 27th, 2018 was Kensington parkrun Send-off Day. We had six of the seven members of the Kensington team in attendance: Stephanie Coomes, Ian Ross, Jeff Lunsford, Greg Gorman, Danielle Durham, and yours truly. Only Cindy Conant couldn’t make it. One of our future Kensington parkrun core team members, four-month-old Henry Ross, was there as well. Henry doesn’t have the time to volunteer right now, as he is too busy being cute and adorable.



What did our 139 participants accomplish? We had 27 College Park first timers (20% of attendees), 22 personal bests (15% of attendees), approximately 6 barkrunners (we lost count), and 13 volunteers. We definitely had milestones this week. We had our 5,000th finisher: Nina McGranahan. Simon Wraight completed his 100th parkrun. Niko Fedkin, Elmer Hernandez, Mark Allen, and Rebecca Gitter ran their 10th parkruns. Ken Leonard (and Scout) and Debbie Levenson ran their 25th parkruns. New 5-timers this week were Sheilah Kast, Catherine Gaspar, Rose Lafferty, Abdur-Rahman Quadri, Deborah Gayle, and Dan Mangis. A little birdie told us that Ian Ross had a birthday milestone during the week, so in proper parkrun fashion, we sang a quick round of Happy Birthday and presented him with an apricot Happy Birthday tiara. He kindly humored us by wearing it for his run.


Our first timers this week were Mark Eichenlaub, Levi Witcher, Austin Witcher, Caelen Witcher, Phelicia Witcher, Chase Witcher, Liam Kennedy, Daniel Esteves, Xiao Ji, Lindsay Smith, Cynthia Johnston, Chris Kot, Andre Sousa, Thomas Kennedy, Jiajia Dong, Tracey Allen, Mark Allen, Jonathan Etti, Luis Patricio, Chethan Parameshwara, Malin Hansson, Jessica Atkins, Maria Gonzalez, Chenae White, Lori Dominick, Anna Krisinski, and Ann Foley. Tracey and Mark Allen did a number of parkruns while living in the UK, but this was their first spin since returning to the US. The 5 first time Witchers came with their parents Gina and Ken Witcher, who have run at College Park parkrun before, for a total of 7 Witchers. Surely a record. Coming in second with 5 family members on site was the Foley family. Ann Foley, a first-timer, is the grandmother of 4-year-old Charlie Foley and did the course with him. Dad Jacob Foley and big sisters Colette and Elizabeth ran ahead. The Foley family has now done over 100 parkruns since first joining us last April!



PBs galore this week! Congratulations to Matthew Mullally, Victor Patricio, Ken Witcher, Nan Jia, Christian Ngassa, Catherine Spirito*, Pete M*, Jonathan Garcia*, Chris Anderson*, Emily Flamm, Amanda Mercer, Sabrina Colwell*, Alina Zhang, Claire Hinrichs*, Janice Bernache, Fredrica Nash*, Michelle Brandy*, Farrah Darbouze, Chuandi Jia*, Maia Swisdak, Rhonda Summey*, and Helena Santos-Collins. What does the * mean? Those with an asterisk are those who ran for the second time at College Park and got a PB. Since you can’t get a PB on your first run, these 10 individuals achieved their very first PBs, and loud cheers go out to them. Emily Flamm got her 14th PB on her 20th run. Congratulations to Amanda Mercer on her PB. She was injured for many months, and so it has been great to watch her gradually work her way back.



We had a fantastic volunteer crew. Our timekeepers were Steve Feld and Misha Bernard. Will Bobseine gave out finisher tokens. Greg Gorman scanned barcodes, and when the line was long, Ian Ross jumped in as a second scanner. Norm Bernache took photographs, and Danielle Durham was our tailwalker. As usual, Lisa Wilson was our turnaround marshall, Hump Plotts our driveway marshall, Andrea organized volunteers (and baked cakes), and Colin did all the things that Colin always does.



Though I realize that going off to start Kensington parkrun makes my world larger rather than smaller, my heart is still heavy. I become attached easily and I’m not very good with change. My eight months at College Park parkrun always will be precious to me, and for all the sadness I feel right now, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you to all for being a part of an amazing and transformative time in my life.


Pam Marcus



Our unofficial 100th parkrun (Run Report #67)

Three weekends into January and we are already seeing some really encouraging turnout numbers. This weekend, we had 105 parkrunners show up -- which is the 8th largest turnout we have had in the entire history of this parkrun. All previous turnouts were special occasions, like New Year's Day, UMD's Homecoming, Thanksgiving, etc., with lot of tourists and guests. But not this past Saturday. This was just a normal Saturday, a home crowd, lots of familiar faces. Of course, we were lucky that it was an atypically pleasant January morning: 40-degree weather and clear skies.

As always, people brought their family and friends. Our parkrunner of the Month Rumi Matsuyama brought two more members of Hyattsville Hyperactive, Eva Müller and Michelle Brandy. Last week's tailwalker Danielle Dunham this week brought a friend, Frederica Nash. Chuandi Jia and his mom Qiao Qiao were smiles all along the course. Astrid Salguero and her mom Thelma Cordón showed up a minute late, but caught up with the rest in no time. Will Etti has been following us on Strava for a while, and decided to join us in person on Saturday.

newcomers 2018jan20Plenty of PBs this morning: The Collins family had a great showing: Samuel, Hannah, and Helena and  Kalonji *all* set personal bests. Matthew Mullally set a PB, after coming within a second of breaking his previous PB last weekend. Sheilah Kast set a PB on parkrun #4, and Emily Flamm set her 13th PB, out of a total of 19 parkruns, all at College Park.

pbs 2018jan20

We also celebrated landmarks. First, Ken Leonard celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the adoption of his dog Scout, with a dog- and human-friendly cake with lots of peanut butter. Scout has been a faithful dog and an enthusiastic parkrunner, completing 24 parkruns with Ken. Also special shout-outs to John Ramsey (30 parkruns); parkrunner of the month for January, Rumi Matsuyama (25 parkruns); Bernadette Gormally, Trinidad Molina, Evan Hirsche, Paul Kittredge (20 parkuns); Craig Thompson (10 parkruns). Ellen Gray, Enrique Jograj, and Valerie Silensky joined the unofficial College Park 5-club, which now boasts a total of 243 members. We wanted to also give a shout-out to Valerie for her enthusiasm: she only started on Dec 30, 2017, but she has been to every parkrun since, and volunteered twice.

landmarks 2018jan20Congratulations, too, to our friends at Fletcher's Cove parkrun, who marked their 100th parkrun with lots of pizza. Fletcher's Cove was the first parkrun to start in the DC area. On a personal note, this was where I did my first official parkrun, and it was really quite a revelation to see how parkrun worked. Unfortunately, I couldn't join them on Saturday. So, happy 100th, Fletcher's Cove, and here's to many more free 5ks! (Also: while there was only one parkrun in the DC area two years ago, there are now four -- soon five -- parkruns in the area, with more than 6,000 registered parkrunners.)

Co-event director Colin Phillips also helpfully pointed out that this Saturday was the 100th time we have had a parkrun at the Paint Branch Trail: there were 33 unofficial parkruns before College Park parkrun officially launched. So, happy unofficial 100th, us!

Lastly, as we like to say, parkrun is impossible without volunteers. As this week's run director, I want to thank the following for their help: marshals Lisa Wilson and Hump Plotts and tailwalker Valerie Silensky, for making sure our parkrunners completed the course safely, Dale Morey and Bernard Kelly, who did a great job keeping time, Jake Foley (and his dog Lola), for stepping in the last minute to hand out tokens, JJ Su, for scanning and sorting tokens (the Board and Brew regulars were very disappointed to hear that he had already taken care of them). Lisa, Norm Bernache, and Colin Phillips took up their usual locations for photographs, while co-event director Andrea Zukowski completed her 46th parkrun while taking photos along the course. volunteers 2018jan20

And that's it for this weekend. As it stands, the weather forecast next Saturday looks good, too. And it will be a special parkrun day, as we'll be celebrating our friends who are about to launch a new parkrun on the Rock Creek Trail in Kensington, MD. It will be a bittersweet moment for us. It means that some of our regular parkrunners will be in College Park less often on Saturday morning. But we're also thrilled to see this new community taking off, and they will be close by, so we are looking forward to lots of local parkrun tourism between Kensington and College Park. This week (1/27), our Run Director at College Park will be Pam Marcus, ringleader of Kensington parkrun, and she'll be joined by other members of the Kensington team. Next weekend (2/3) they will start weekly trial parkrun 5Ks in Kensington. Same arrangement as usual: 9am start, 5k, friendly and welcoming. And coffee afterwards. The official launch of Kensington parkrun, when you'll need your barcode, is set for March 24th.

See you all soon.

Nick Huang


Fancy meeting you here! (Run Report #66)

College Park parkrun #66 got off to a brisk start. The wind chill factor stayed well above zero, but many people (including me) were glad to use the hand warmers that co-event directors Andrea Zukowski and Colin Phillips kindly brought along.


Despite the cold, 100 people took part. A crowd in the triple digits has become a normal turnout and it shows just how devoted people are to parkrun here in College Park. But parkrunners in Eagan, MN showed perhaps a tad more devotion because six of them braved a temperature of -9 F. That’s before accounting for the wind chill! The hardy Eagan runners joined a total 248,000 people worldwide, an all-time record, thanks in large part to New Years Resolutions in the Southern Hemisphere that benefit from warmer weather.

Rumi Matsuyama was named parkrunner of the Month for January, in recognition of her tireless advocacy of community-based fitness in the College Park/Hyattsville area, including parkrun, plus a lot of parkruns herself. (Follow Rumi and her happy clan on the Hyattsville Hyperactive group on Facebook.) As her award was announced, Eric London, visiting from Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, recognized her name and realized that they had worked together more than 20 years ago but hadn’t seen each other since then. The two were reunited after Rumi volunteered as a photographer.


Saturday’s crowd included 55 people who have already run with us at least 10 times. It also included 12 first-timers we hope see at future parkruns, and 12 people who made PBs:

  • Emily Flamm, with her 12th PB in 18 runs
  • JJ Su, on his 16th parkrun
  • Win Persina, part of the VW55-59 group, easily the most competitive age group at CP parkrun
  • Becky Gitter and Joanie Myles from the Hyattsville Hyperactive group, on the same day that Rumi Matsuyama received the POTM award
  • Mary Wester, running with dad Paul ahead of returning to college
  • Helena Santos-Collins, Samuel Collins and Hannah Collins, all on the same day
  • Cotter Rosenberg, a second-timer. This time he got the better of his dad, Duane Rosenberg. But Cotter has about a 40-year advantage on his dad.



We also had several mini-milestones:

  • Tara Mease and Xander Mease both made their 25th runs, halfway to the 50 club. (Impressively, 8 people did their 23rd or 24th parkrun on Saturday … including me.)
  • Maria Cecil marked 10 runs.
  • The 5-parkrun club now includes Marc Swisdak, Bin Cao, and Deborah Gayle.
  • Despite the insane cold that started the year, there are 20 people who have done all 3 CP parkruns so far this year. Who can keep this streak going?



Seven furry “barkrunners” were in attendance. Colin thinks that’s a record, but he can’t be sure because we don’t have barcodes and data for the dogs. I suspect that Scout, accompanied by his human running partner, Ken Leonard, may have hit a milestone or two. Either way, she was pretty stoked to have so many four-legged friends this week.


While the cold wasn’t as bad as last week, it was still nippy, especially if you were volunteering and not moving around much. We are so grateful for our volunteer crew. Diehard parkrun volunteers Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson served as marshalls. Lisa says that being out in the cold makes your blood thick and ready for more winter weather. It seems to be working for her and Hump, because they are out there every week. Volunteering at the finish line were Brian Murphy, Jen Murphy, Jordan and Jake Foley, Bernard Kelly. Pam Marcus, Danielle Durham, and Rumi Matsuyama were tailwalkers and photographers, joined by Norm Bernache, who stopped by after most runners had left. Chris McGranahan was run director, and he is very thankful to Nick Huang for processing results in record time!



Trail news: we have arranged with Prince George's Parks to "adopt" our stretch of the Paint Branch Trail. We love the trail, and benefit from it every week. By adopting the trail were are committing to helping to take care of it, including quarterly clean-ups. Plus some signage on the trail to tell other trail users who we are. Look out for upcoming announcements about our first trail cleanup day.



We are looking forward to our upcoming Kensington parkrun Day on January 27. Pam Marcus, who has been a regular runner and volunteer here in College Park, will lead trial runs in Kensington every Saturday, beginning on February 3rd, in preparation for an official launch on March 24th. We’re excited to see our new sister parkrun get off the ground, and we can’t wait to visit them.

Debbie Levenson


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