On October 20th we celebrated the 2nd birthday of College Park parkrun. The 105 events have gone by very quickly, but it’s also hard to remember what we used to do on a Saturday morning.
Some things are different now than when we started out. It all starts with the community, of course. With more than 200 people having taken part at least 10 times, lots of people have come to know each other. And we’ve met so many people who we enjoy sharing the trail and a chat over coffee with on a Saturday. There’s now a much larger group of people who are committed to keeping the event going week after week. We have such great support from the community. We now have a wonderful partnership with Prince George’s Parks, who share similar goals to ours. And College Park parkrun has become a point of pride for the city -- adding to an ever-growing list of reasons to feel good about College Park.
Last week we came across the quarterly Regional Runner Rankings, compiled by regular parkrunner James Moreland, based on results from hundreds of running events around the DMV. It was striking to see so many familiar names in the listings, especially for older age groups. We don’t even think of CP parkrun as a race -- we’re simply getting together to have fun on the trail on a Saturday morning -- but simply by bringing together more and more people every week, College Park parkrun has turned into a venue for a lot of ‘competitive’ run performances. We suspect that Mike and Bonnie McClellan, with 160 years between them, might find it amusing that their Saturday morning activities have put them into runner rankings for their age groups.
But what was special THIS week at CP parkrun?
Well, for a start there was cake. What is a birthday without cake? And it was a rather good cake. Credit to Andrea and Zoe for making the model of our finish area on the cake. And credit to all of you for helping to eat it all. Most importantly, thanks to Jenn Augsburger, who saved us when we realized that we hadn’t brought a knife along. Jenn dashed home for reinforcements, and we’re all thankful as a result.
There was also a special cake for a special pair of parkrunners. Xander and Tara Mease ran their 50th parkruns together, and so they ran in the 50 sashes. At 5 years old (about to turn 6) Xander is by far the youngest US parkrunner to join the 50 club, and as you may know, Xander’s running is part of how he manages his cystic fibrosis. At parkrun, though, it’s all about Xander meeting his parkrun buddies, including the barkrunners. Thanks to Misha Bernard for baking a special CF-friendly cake for Xander. He was pretty happy about it. And to everybody who brought along a barkrunner friend. Thanks also to Xander for bringing along his grandma and his great grandma, And to Xander and Tara for being heroes of our parkrun community. Always smiling, always positive, always inspiring us on a Saturday morning.
We had another milestone celebration this week, as Brian Murphy joined the parkrun volunteer club, volunteering for the 25th time. This meant that he got to run in the purple volunteer cape, which probably creates some wind resistance at the speed that Brian covers the course. Brian and his family (Jen, Gus, and sometimes many more) are such a valuable part of our community, and we so appreciate their many contributions.
We love it when you want to share your Saturday morning parkrun fun with family, whether they’re visiting from out of town, or family members who wonder what you’ve been getting up to on all those Saturday mornings.
This week Deborah Gayle’s sister and family joined her while visiting from Denmark. Deborah got to run with her nephew Trystan, and Deborah’s sister Judith enjoyed a walk with their dad David. Shevaun Lewis brought along her barkrunner Jasper and her parents who were visiting from Colorado. 50-club member Eddie Matus brought along Magdalena Duhagon. And the Vasquez/Benitez/Fernandez family definitely win the prize for the most together and the most color-coordinated family on the trail this week. We like their style!
We’d also like to give a special shout-out to our dear neighbor Emily Jackson, who joined us this week for the first time this week, together with her awesome mother-in-law Pam Diamond and their two pint-sized barkrunners. Emily has been following us since the very beginning, and we were thrilled to see her on the trail this week.
So many milestones this week. In addition to the official milestones by Tara, Xander, and Brian, we had a number of unofficial milestones.
A special distinction for Cotter Rosenberg, who ran his 25th parkrun on his 25th birthday. Happy birthday, Cotter! When Andrea asked during the run briefing whether anybody was turning 25 that day quite a few hands went up, none of them Cotter’s. Well, we know that you’re all young at heart.
This week’s new 10-timers included Lou Shapiro, Heather Sisan, Isaac Scott, and Carly Mills. We are especially pleased to see how our parkrun community has made Isaac and his family feel at home. This week’s new 5-timers were Pam Diamond, Erin Saddler, Meghan Gieske, and Teresa Perdomo.
12 of you set PBs this week. Notably, sisters Erin Munsell and Carly Mills both got to ring the bell. It has been heartening to follow their progress. Aileen Kroll was dragged to a PB by Xander, and a number of parkrunners were paced to PBs by family members. Maia Swisdak ran with mom Misha, Julian Gordon set off with grandma Sharyn, then sped off at the end, and we’re guessing that Violet Ridge bears some credit for mom Lilly’s PB.
Two years ago, when College Park parkrun started, we had the same worry that any new parkrun team has: how would we manage to find the volunteers to keep the event going week after week? This week was a perfect demonstration of why we no longer worry, as you always come through. We even had 3 people show up on Saturday morning offering to fill in additional volunteer roles. Lara Pagano tried out the tailwalker role for the first time, joined by Valerie Silensky. The finish line crew was Ben Brosch, Herman King, Saul Goldberg, Külli Puusta, Will Bobseine, Sam McGranahan and Duane Rosenberg. Ben Gieske and Jan Edwards ensured that our lovely new purple finisher tokens were all accounted for. Various talents went into the birthday celebrations.
Andrea presided over the birthday event, as is her prerogative as Queen of CP parkrun. One person who was missing was Colin, who was bummed to be far away, working on the other side of the world in Taiwan, though still coordinating our communications from afar. Colin also reached an unofficial milestone this week, as it was his 100th parkrun volunteer occasion.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY PARTNERSHIP. We are excited to partner with the American Cancer Society to help walkers in their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program stay active year round. We’re looking to identify some Pink Ambassadors, who can sometimes welcome these walkers and help them to feel at home in our parkrun community. Main qualifications: two legs and a friendly smile. A personal connection to (breast) cancer is a bonus, but certainly not required. Drop us a line: email@example.com.
TREE PLANTING. We’ll be holding another tree planting and trail cleanup event with PG Parks on 11/3. These projects help to improve the park and the stream, and in future summers they will begin to provide us with welcome shade at our start/finish area. They’re also fun. Let us know if you can join us after parkrun to help with this.
THANKSGIVING PARKRUNNING. This year we will have parkrun events on BOTH Thursday 11/22 and Saturday 11/24. These will be a great opportunity to get outside with family, to burn off a few calories, or to avoid shopping or watching TV. 9am start for both.
NEW YEARS PARKRUNNING. We will again host a New Years parkrun on 1/1/19 at the late start time of 10:30am. A number of other local parkruns will be holding 8:30am events that day (likely Kensington, Anacostia, and Leakin Park), making it possible to start the new year with a double parkrun. Big gathering to thaw out and catch up at The Board and Brew.
NEW PARKRUN USA EVENTS. Looking for new parkruns to do on your travels? Soon there will be more choices, as new events are starting in November in Ann Arbor, MI and Tucson, AZ. With new events in the pipeline in Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, and many more, the possibilities are multiplying. Have friends who might like to help with an event in their hometown? Let us know.
NEW LOCAL PARKRUN? Would you like to see another parkrun event in Prince George’s County? Know of anybody who would like to explore this possibility? Let us know.
Happy birthday to us! We’re looking forward to all the new friendships that the next year will bring.