Small but beautiful (Run Report #63)

Our final parkrun of 2017 was a beautiful back-to-basics affair. No big numbers or milestones, and almost no PBs. Just a lovely morning for a run with friends on the trail. Snow came earlier than expected and left us with a thin white carpet to run on. There were probably a few people who wrestled with the question of whether to stay home in the warm, but I don’t think that anybody who came along regretted it.

My own parkrun day got off to an abrupt start. I was calmly enjoying my morning coffee and checking the parkrun Twitter accounts for anything that needed a response. And there was a lovely picture of parkrunning pup Foxy enjoying a morning walk in the snow. So cute. Wait, snow? In DC? I opened the blinds to find that snow had fallen overnight. That meant that I would have to do a course check, to find out whether it was safe to go ahead with today’s parkrun. And that would need to happen soon. So much for the relaxing coffee. Quickly pull out the warm gear, load up the van, and head to Hump’s Crossing. With my shovel. Why a shovel? Not for the snow, but because I needed to clear horse poo from the trail. Last week’s incident with a missing parkrunner had brought a mounted police unit to the trail, and it had left its mark. That little issue was quickly taken care of, and the trail was clearly in great shape for running, though perhaps not for running at full tilt.

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The highlight of the run was simply people coming together to enjoy a run in conditions that are unusual for Maryland. It was great to see Winston and Darren Cox back, after getting to know them quite well at last week’s parkrun. It’s always a pleasure to see Xander and Tara Mease on the trail. 5-year old Xander was doing his 22nd parkrun, and he would prefer the cold to hot summer temps any time. Nina McGranahan ran with her friends Jolee and Natalie, and plenty of people made a point of taking it a little slower than usual, getting to know new people in the process.

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We had a few first-timers, despite the weather. Christal Harris, Katedra Nixon, and Robin Gatlin came as a group, and seemed to enjoy the low-key run. We were happy to meet locals Stuart Wright and Valerie Silensky. Valerie heard about us from the Hyattsville Hyperactive Facebook group that includes a number of regular parkrunners. Stuart’s English accent made me assume that he was a parkrun tourist from the UK, but he’s very local, based in College Park. In contrast, I didn’t assume that Greg Richards was a parkrun tourist, but he is: he is an American who normally does his parkrunning at Haga parkrun in Stockholm, Sweden. Greg had a great run today, recording his fastest parkrun ever, despite the snow.

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Our volunteers did an admirable job, despite being a little short-handed. When the tokens volunteer didn’t show, Bernard Kelly deftly took over as both a timer and token czar. He was ably assisted by Janice Bernache and Clare Imholtz in the finish area, who somehow managed to make everything work smoothly despite cold hands. Hump and Lisa took care of you on the course, this week with the cheery assistance of tail walker JJ Su.

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So 2017 is a wrap for College Park parkrun. The event is put on by the community for the community, so you have every reason to feel good about the fact that you put on 52 events, all free, serving about 1000 people who did 4053 runs. Over 200 of those parkrunners took part at least 5 times. This was our first full year, and it’s a fantastic foundation to build upon in 2018.

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A few of our regular parkrunners were touring today at other local parkruns. Clark Ridge took a tilt at Anacostia parkrun (yes, of course he was first finisher; and of course he was wearing shorts in this weather), and Cindy Cohen, Kirk Gordon, and Steve and Cindy Feld all paid homage to Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, the place where Washington DC parkrunning began two years ago. We’re hoping that these guys will all be with us on Monday for our second New Year’s Resolution parkrun, in conjunction with PGRC. Maybe some of them will also be trying the New Years Double parkrun, by first running at Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore at 8:30am. New Years doubles are a popular parkrun tradition in the UK and Australia, but this is the very first time that it has been possible in the US. Fingers crossed that the weather allows us to go ahead. Here’s the schedule.

8:30am: Leakin Park parkrun, Baltimore
10:30am: College Park parkrun
11:00am onwards: community brunch at The Board and Brew.

I hope to see you there!

Colin Phillips