A couple of weeks ago, when I was walking parkrun as the Tail Walker (because I was grounded from running, post-surgery), I passed Andy Fellows, who shouted out ‘Thanks for being here.’ ‘Where else would I be?’ I shouted back, surprised. Indeed, where else? At times, I have wondered whether one day I’ll get tired of running the same 5k event week after week. But it hasn’t happened yet, and after almost a year’s worth of ‘official’ parkruns on the Paint Branch Trail, I’m starting to think that day will never arrive. That’s because it’s never the same event twice. Each week there are new first timers to greet (typically 10 or more), a different subset of parkrun veterans to welcome back (out of the 1100 people now registered), and each week you give us new accomplishments to celebrate. Far from getting tired of parkrun, every Saturday it leaves me feeling energized, proud, and happy. I hope it does the same for all of you too!
Last Saturday for our 46th event, the 3000th finisher crossed the finish line. It was 20 weeks before we saw our 1000th finisher, 15 weeks before the 2000th, and then just 11 weeks before the 3000th. Here’s a prediction: we will see our 4000th finisher by Halloween (9 weeks). We are growing! In fact this week we had 103 finishers, even though it was just a ‘regular’ weekend. The gorgeous weather probably played a role in that.
It was wonderful to welcome back Chris Kujawa (who spent his summer in Michigan, doing 8 parkruns there at Livonia parkrun) and Xander and Tara (Xander’s CF forces them to seek out cooler running conditions in the summer). Xander’s enthusiasm is contagious, and he has been missed! This week he brought along his grandma, Janet Tate, for her first time. Janet turns out to be among the speedier grandmas!
Among the new faces this week were Yoopadee Wongsuptawee, who was our female first finisher, and Vivienne Miller and her daughter Autumn. Vivienne is a US transplant from Scotland, a long-time resident of Ellicott City, and although this is her first North American parkrun, she is no stranger to parkrun. Her brother, Euan Bowman, is the mastermind behind parkrun Canada, which celebrated its 1-year anniversary last week, and has launched 10 new parkruns in the past year. Look up Vivienne and Autumn’s coolest-ever running club: Hogwarts Running Club (we absolutely need to get that one onto our list of officially-recognized clubs so that it will show up in the results!).
We had lots to celebrate this week (with cake, as usual). Kayla Hayes completed her 10th parkrun (and judging by the t-shirt her mom Jackie made for her, she was as proud as we were). Suerken Matsuyama actually completed his 11th parkrun today, but he caught us unawares last time, so we celebrated this week. Besides these official t-shirting earning milestones, lots of us older folks achieved some unofficial but equally admirable milestones: Tami Graf, Jackie Hayes, Kidus Haile, and Orla Collins all ran their 5th College Park parkrun, Rumi Matsuyama, Clare Imholtz and Susan Whitney all ran their 10th, and Elliott Hamilton and Crystal Bergemann each ran their 25th (!). Frank Filteau has run 24 parkruns at College Park, and one at Deep Run parkrun in Richmond, VA, so he’ll join the CP-25 club next time he comes.
The beautiful weather probably played a role in the unprecedented 33 PBs we witnessed this week–congratulations to all! Two age-category records were broken this week too, both in the 65-69 age group: Judy Barnes, who walks the course at lightning speed (this week she broke into a jog at the finish, and came in under 42 minutes), and James Moreland, who has just 5 parkruns to go before earning his red 50 shirt.
This week we saw two parkrun ‘PB streakers.’ Matthew Mullally has had 4 PBs in his 4 visits, and Gloria Cottman has had PBs in 5 out of her 6 visits. Both have improved by leaps and bounds. Also this week we had whole families whose members all saw new PBs. That included John Wilkerson and Susan Whitney, Orla Collins and Kate Murray, Laura and Richard Goemann, Mark Shroder and Susan Keller, Roman and Kathy Zentek, and Tyler and Rob Stephens. Some of our PB setters this week improved on their previous bests by an impressive 2 minutes! Congratulations Moe Siddiqi, Cameron McPhee, and Chris Rasmussen.
The final group to celebrate is our volunteers, who made it all happen. If you’ve never volunteered with us before, we need you! Please opt-in to our weekly volunteer appeals, and sign up for a Saturday soon. Here’s the great company you will be joining:
Lisa ‘turn-around-Zen master’ Wilson
Hump ‘zebra-stripes’ Plotts
Jenn ‘almost-ready-to-run-again’ Augsburger
Sam ‘grounded-so-might-as-well-volunteer’ McGranahan
JJ ‘can’t-decide-whether-I-like-running-or-volunteering-better’ Su
Pam ‘love-parkrun-so-much-I’m-starting-one-in-my-backyard’ Marcus
Dale ‘scan-master’ Morey
Zoe ‘finish-funnel-master’ Phillips
Diana ‘any excuse to bake’ Gough
Andrea ‘where-else-would-I-be?’ Zukowski
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.