Happy new year, friends!
It may not have escaped your notice that parkrun is all about bringing people together in a supportive environment. On New Year’s Day, this togetherness was on display in spades.
127 of you braved the bitter cold temps, making this our third largest parkrun ever at College Park. We co-hosted the first ever double NYD parkrun on this side of the Atlantic, which brought together parkrunners from Leakin Park, College Park, and other DC-area parkruns, visitors from West Virginia, Delaware, and Australia, and Event Directors from a record 7 different US parkruns (Leakin Park, College Park, Anacostia, Roosevelt Island, Fletcher’s Cove, Mansfield, and the soon-to-be Kensington parkrun). We were also thrilled to welcome Anthony Nolan, Chief of the Special Programs Division at PG Parks, who brought along his whole family, two of whom were first timers.
We also co-hosted our event with Prince George’s Running Club, who accounted for over 20 of our runners and volunteers. We’re very pleased that we’ve been seeing some cross-pollination between PGRC and parkrun. That’s the way it’s supposed to work!
We had some other things to celebrate besides the new year. Co-event director Colin Phillips ran his milestone 50th (and 51st) parkruns on Jan. 1st, in addition to celebrating his 50th birthday (leading us to wonder whether this 50-50 achievement has ever been done before…yeah, we have no idea how to answer this question either). Can you think of a better way to celebrate your birthday than by running a 5k with 126 of your closest friends, and then eating breakfast with 40 of them? Coming in as first finisher was icing on the cake, but honestly, the cake was delicious enough on its own (both the metaphorical cake and the birthday cake; hope you got some!). We discovered at the Board and Brew that a second parkrunner celebrated a big birthday on Jan 1st: Happy birthday, Deborah Gayle!
Many of our NYD runners are very close to reaching official parkrun milestones: Joyce Adams (49) and Svetlana Stanaford (99), who are the current and outgoing Event Directors at Roosevelt Island, and Simon Wraight (99), who has to travel all the way from West Virginia to get his parkrun fix. Many others joined the unofficial College Park 5 and 10 clubs on NYD: Susan Keller and Meredith Phillips have each run CP parkrun 10 times, and Jolanta Blazaite, Robert Bourque, Maya Aleshnik, Zak Mellen, and Jack Crocker have each run it 5 times. The other accomplishments we love to highlight are First Timers, PBs, and ‘Comebacks’. We get about 10 First Timers most weeks, but on NYD we had a whopping 22 First Timers to our course, and 18 of them had never run a parkrun anywhere (warning: it’s habit-forming!). Despite the cold temps, 9 people managed to achieve a new PB: congratulations to Farrah Darbouze, Natalie Hanno, Vivienne Miller, Anthony Nolan, Thomas Nolan, Tracy Watson, Tim Ramsey, Valerie Silensky, and Svetlana Stanaford.
Our ‘Comebacks’ on NYD included Ken Leonard and Scout, who have been very much missed lo these many months (especially by Xander!) and Stephanie Coomes, who was back running her first parkrun since giving birth a few months ago. Welcome back to all 3 of you!
I hereby grant our NYD volunteers extra hero points for making parkrun work like a well-oiled machine on a crazy cold day, without the benefit of exercise to keep warm. As is befitting our NYD theme of parkrun bringing people together, our volunteers came from all over. THANK YOU Tony San (from Roosevelt Island parkrun), Lailah Strube (from Fletcher’s Cove parkrun), Bernard Kelly, Lloyd Rawley, and Joann Tschiffely (from PGRC), and Dale Morey, Katie Murtough, Colin Phillips, Hump Plotts, Valerie Siensky, JJ Su and Lisa Wilson (all from CP parkrun).
I’ll end this New Year’s report with a story. A few weeks ago, as he was leaving the Board and Brew, one of our parkrunners said to me “I don’t know why parkrun works, but it just does. I’ve run other races, but at parkrun, I don’t get knots in my stomach, even though I still run as fast as I can. It just works. It's magic.”
I think there’s a simple reason for this: it’s because, at parkrun, you know you’re among friends. That makes all the difference in the world.
We look forward to seeing all of our old friends and making many more new friends in the coming year.
Hope to see you tomorrow! You’re planning to wrap up warm, right?