Neil in charge (Run Report #96)

Last week we surprised Neil (Enrique) Jograj by giving him the August parkrunner of the month award. This week he surprised us by stepping up as debut Run Director. The RD is an experienced volunteer who is, roughly, the conductor for the parkrun orchestra on Saturday morning. And Neil surprised us further by bringing along his mom, Dottie Jograj, who enjoyed her longest walk in a long time. Neil is a wounded warrior who is a slower runner than he used to be, but who feels welcomed at parkrun. It was great to have him leading the show this week.

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It was great to see Sabrina Alam and Sue H running with us again. Normally based in France, they joined us at the start of their summer internships at NASA Goddard, and quickly became part of our community. They joined us on the same day that they were leaving town. Do come back and visit some time!

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We also welcomed back an old friend. Tom Bean was our course record holder for most of our first year. Now based in North Carolina, he was back for a brief visit. He claims to be slower now that he’s a new father, but it didn’t notice as he zoomed into the distance. Tom’s visit also meant that it was the first time that 21-time parkrunner Travis Boltjes had an experience that the rest of us know well -- following somebody at parkrun.

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We welcomed back College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn, who was closely followed by New Carrollton mayor Duane Rosenberg. Patrick’s training for his first half marathon, so he’s pretty speedy right now. But Duane is gaining on Patrick in the not-a-race to become the first elected official on the continent to join the 50-parkrun club.

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Two of our regulars were on tour this week. Gus Campbell set out at silly o’clock to drive to New Jersey for the inaugural Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrun. This is the 24th US parkrun, created by former CP regular Rory Murphy. The rest of us made a welcome for D&RC parkrun before the start. It wasn’t as artistic as some of our previous welcome signs because Andrea Zukowski was also on tour. She ran and photographed at Livonia parkrun in suburban Detroit. And she was also meeting with the team that is working to bring a parkrun to Ann Arbor, MI. She reports that they have a beautiful venue and a wonderful, growing team. We can’t wait to visit!

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It was one of those humid DC summer days that we learn to put up with, so it was a surprise that 15 of the 115 finishers set a PB. Josh Schneider set what might be the biggest ever PB at parkrun, going 47 minutes faster than his first time out. This is because he and Erin Schneider take turns doing parkrun with their kids, including young Samantha, who also set a PB this week, and is one of our youngest finishers. Congratulations Josh and Samantha. And thanks to Erin, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.

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Kiera Parsons and Ben Martin are younger parkrunners who returned after a little while away and set PBs. Erica Barnhardt and Emily Jensenius are moms who are going from strength to strength, setting parkrun PBs while dad pushed the stroller. John Giamalva set another PB on his 13th parkrun. And it was great to see a PB by Maria Ialacci, who is walking faster each time.

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No official parkrun milestones this week. But lots of people reached unofficial milestones. Steve Hendrix ran for the 25th time, and Julie Russell finished her 10th parkrun while husband Neil was keeping order at the finish. And there were SEVEN more people who are now 5-timers at College Park parkrun: Susan Martin, Ben Martin, David Donohue, Brent Schrader, Harshit Banthia, Jorge Aguilera, and Mary Miner. That makes 371 people who have now joined us at least 5 times. Wow.

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Volunteering at parkrun is just as much fun as running or walking, and Neil had a fine team to back him up this week. Daniel Walker and Michelle Brandy wore the yellow vests for the first time and really enjoyed the experience. Lisa, Hump, Colin, and Andrea did what they do almost every week for our parkrun. We were happy to have volunteer stalwarts Anna Tinnemore, JJ Su, Larry Washington, and Joel Goldberg helping out. Larry has been timekeeping (and high-fiving) regularly while recovering from an injury. We hope to see him back among the runners soon. He’s now able to jog all the way to the parking lot, so that’s encouraging progress. Thanks also to Sam and Kalonji Collins who stepped in as tail walkers and photographers for the day, ensuring that everybody is safe and nobody comes last at parkrun.

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A full set of photos for this week’s parkrun can be found on our Flickr pages.

Some announcements:

Post-parkrun Yoga in the Parks has been so popular that our friends at PG Parks are planning to continue it into the Fall. Perfect!

On August 25th Brian Murphy will be Run Director on his own 35th birthday. Come celebrate with him!

September 15th will be our 100th event at College Park parkrun, and October 20th will be our 2nd birthday. More reasons to celebrate!

We’re planning on having a parkrun booth at the College Park Day festival on October 6th. It’s a great way to reach more people in the community? Drop us a line if you might be able to help staff the booth for part of the day. Main qualification: enjoy parkrun!

We’re also looking for folks who would be interested in helping with walking groups at parkun. You don’t need to be a speedy runner to enjoy the beautiful trail and the great community vibe on a Saturday morning. We’re looking for people who can commit to walking on a specific day, so that we can offer company to other walkers. Also, on October 6th we’re looking to welcome a band of walkers from the 300 Club, so we hope to have a strong contingent of walkers on that day.

Finally, one cool experience from this week. I was fortunate to get to speak to 2,000 new UMD graduate students at their orientation day on Monday. I might just have slipped in a mention of parkrun into my remarks. I was pleasantly surprised to bump into regular parkrunner Schuyler Price, who now joins our growing ranks of Terp Grad parkrunners. And Schuyler was just as surprised to see me on the stage. Yep, I do have a day job. :)

See you Saturday!

Colin