Leakin Park (Run Report #26)

If you’ve heard of Leakin Park in Baltimore, chances are it’s from an episode of The Wire or the Serial podcast. And you’ve probably never been there yourself. I certainly haven’t. But I’m looking forward to visiting this summer when it becomes the site of Maryland’s second parkrun. I hear that the trails are lovely, and they’re part of one of the largest urban wilderness areas in the eastern US. If it wasn’t for parkrun, I’m sure my misconceptions would remain uncorrected.

This week we were happy to welcome a group from the Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park. Bridget McCusker, Jo Orser and Ed Orser are helping parkrun pied piper Rory Murphy with the Baltimore effort and wanted to see a parkrun in action. In College Park we have introduced hundreds of people to our city’s trails and our strong community. Our visitors left excited about the potential for Leakin Park, and we’re excited to see it grow.


One thing that our visitors expressed a worry about is volunteers. How on earth do you muster a crew of volunteers every single week? Even in the winter? I was happy to report that this hasn’t really been a problem. Today was a great example of that. April is one of the busiest months for organized races in the DMV, and today there were *three* other 5k events within a couple of miles of our run, including the popular Azalea Classic in University Park. I went to bed on Friday night not knowing how we would cover the volunteer roles first thing on Saturday, and a little worried. A few hours later we had a skeleton crew. And then after the run had already started a couple of parents who had come to help their sons stepped in to fill the remaining roles. With people like this, we can sleep soundly on a Friday night.


Today we feted Clark Ridge as our parkrunner of the month for April. Clark has done 23 of our 26 runs so far, and was first finisher in 16 of them. But the award is for embodying the community spirit of parkrun. On a number of occasions when we were short of volunteers, Clark sped around the course and then quickly donned a hi-vis vest and took on the barcode scanning volunteer role. And a couple of weeks ago he saved the day with his quick thinking, by scooping up an incorrectly placed turnaround cone as he sped by and placing it in the correct place, ¾ mile further down the trail. Today he brought along his 8-year old daughter Violet Ridge, who proceeded to set possibly the biggest PB we’ve ever seen, improving her time by 35 minutes over her previous visit. Wow. Violet is now only 8 parkruns away from her 10 parkrun milestone, whereas dad still has 27 to reach his 50 parkrun milestone.


Violet wasn’t the only PB today. Jan Edwards found a new gear on her 8th parkrun. Chris Kujawa set (yet) another PB on his 15th parkrun, helped by pacing with Brent Mattocks, who also got a PB, and Nick Brennan, organizer of the upcoming College Park 5k on May 6th (more on that below). James Moreland ran the fastest of his 33 parkruns to date (19 of them at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun), paced by Don Burger, another of today’s PBs.


We had a number of new people reach the unofficial milestones of 10 College Park parkruns -- Amanda Mercer and Eddie Matus, both of Prince George’s Running Club -- and 5 CP parkruns -- Paul Wester and Aaron Anderson. Nice consistency!


Have we mentioned that we love our volunteers? This week your course marshals were Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson, who between them have now volunteered at 37 events! Will Cooper and Semi Nasseri were the unsuspecting parents who happily pitched in at the very last minute. And timekeepers Lara Ehrenhofer and Nick Huang are stalwarts who have been with us since long before College Park parkrun was official. Together with Colin Phillips (Run Director) and Andrea Zukowski (not at parkrun, but holding everything together anyway), that’s a lot of linguists involved in today’s parkrun.

Speaking of our event director, Andrea was on leave from parkrun today, paying homage to the University Park Azalea Classic 5k. Andrea didn’t start running until she was 49, and the AC was the first organized run she ever did. The community spirit of that event motivated her to check out some parkruns while on family vacation in the UK, and that led to College Park parkrun. There was no way that Andrea could miss the AC today, and she proceeded to finish first in her age category. Nice! She managed to grab a shot with a few parkrunners before the start.


We’re looking forward to seeing you all at the trail in the coming weeks. It’s the same time, same price, same friendly vibe every week. But there are a couple of special events to note:

April 15th (next week!). It’s our 6-month anniversary, and we’ll be celebrating an official parkrun milestone for at least one young parkrunner. There may be cake.

May 6th. Like today, you’re spoiled for choice. But this time you don’t have to choose. You can do the College Park 5k at 8am. It’s a fundraiser for College Park Community Foundation, which supports great causes in our community … such as parkrun. And then you can hop over to do parkrun at 9am. Are you up for the challenge? Biking on the trail could be the fastest way between the two events. No bike? Then how about College Park bikeshare. There’s even a station close to The Board and Brew for the post-run(s) meetup.

May 27th. You won’t want to miss this one. Trust us. More information to follow. Plan to head to the beach for Memorial Day *after* parkrun, not before.

As usual you can follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, find loads of hi-res photos on Flickr, or join our Strava page! Why the heck would anybody bother with Strava, we hear you ask? It's a way to follow one another's progress and give encouragement during the weekdays in between parkruns. I started using it recently, and it's cool to see what others are up to.

Colin Phillips