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.