November 11th seemed like an excellent day to hold a tree planting event at College Park parkrun. Our friends at Prince George’s Parks explained that larger trees are better planted in the Fall, so that they have time to establish their root systems before the hotter weather comes around again. And early November in the mid-Atlantic often brings peak Fall colors. Perfect! Nobody expected that we would have record low temperatures, with the thermometer showing barely above 20 degrees when we woke up. Already a little light on volunteer tree-planters, we were worried that we’d see few parkrunners and even fewer for planting.
We shouldn’t have worried.
89 parkrunners joined us, including 16 first-timers. And so many people stayed around to help with tree planting that the planting was almost finished by the time the tailwalkers returned and the parkrun gear was packed up. A small army of parkrunners got an upper body workout, improved the park, providing shade in years to come, and forged new friendships in the process.
We are so thankful to Antonia Bookbinder of PG Parks for planning the event, and to her colleague Michael Ellis for helping to coordinate. Antonia said: “Seriously, I am never doing another tree planting with parkrun with fewer than 40 trees! I'll need a better truck to haul trees, though.”
The next time that you’re at College Park parkrun, you’ll notice that one of the first new trees that you encounter after reaching the park stands out from the rest. It is surrounded by a small ring of stones. This tree is called “Peter”, a memorial to Peter Blank, a much loved DC-area runner who passed away just a few days ago. Peter was instrumental in bringing parkrun to the DC metro area, as he brought together some of the key people who started Fletcher’s Cove parkrun downtown. Thanks to parkrunner Win Persina for thinking of this. And if you know of how to source a small sign that we could plant to explain this, we would love to hear from you.
The trees weren’t the only notable happening at College Park parkrun this week, of course.
It was another Fall football day in College Park. parkrun is becoming the largest participation sports event in town, but it’s still the case that a few people turn out for big Terps games. Especially when those games involve Big 10 teams like Michigan, who seemed to take over the town on Saturday. When we arrived at the park Saturday morning we were surprised to find a blue Michigan Wolverines tent erected right over the parkrun finish line. Was this an act of parkrun trolling, forcing our Terp parkrunners to run through this tent to finish? Actually no, it was a bit of parkrun tourism by Tim Gallagher of Livonia parkrun in Michigan, the oldest US parkrun. Tim was one of our larger-than-usual crowd of parkrun tourists on Saturday. He came together with his sister Jennifer Gallagher, based in nearby Falls Church, and his friend Tom Leonard, who helped out as a volunteer. We wonder if it was the Michiganders who brought the 20-degree weather with them. It certainly didn’t seem to faze them. Tim was happily walking around in shorts the entire time.
We also had parkrun tourists from further afield, who probably cannot be blamed for the cold weather. Tracy Watson is more commonly seen at Gungahlin parkrun in Canberra, Australia. And Fred Babumba Lukwago’s home parkrun is Uvongo parkrun in South Africa, an event that runs alongside the Indian Ocean, partly along a beach. Welcome to Tracy and Fred, and we hope that you enjoyed the “different” conditions at our parkrun.
Also of note, this week in our 57th event we had our 4000th finisher. Fittingly, it was Jim Parsons, one of our most dedicated parkrunners. Congratulations Jim on this truly obscure honor. Jim won’t be with us next weekend, as he’ll be accompanying a group of our younger parkrunners to Youth Cross Country Nationals. Good luck to Ian, Thomas, Colette, Nathan, and Elizabeth!
This week we announced our parkrunners of the month for November. It was a joint award to Steve and Cindy Feld. Steve and Cindy have done 39 of their 50 parkruns at College Park parkrun, and they have also volunteered 13 times between them. They travel a little way to join us, but they feel very much a part of our parkrun community, and we’re so happy to see them when they can join us, and just as happy when we see their names appearing in the results of other parkruns that they visit on their travels. Congratulations to Steve and Cindy, and we know that you will enjoy the gift card generously provided by The Board and Brew.
With no danger of overheating, 15 parkrunners set PBs. A couple of PBs stood out to us. Janice Bernache did her 10th parkrun, and she has now set a PB on all but one occasion. Impressive! Erin Munsell set another PB on her 11th parkrun, and it was cool to see the surprise on her face when she saw her time. Chris Kujawa set a PB for College Park parkrun on his 35th run, and Jen Murphy got her first sub-25 clocking on her 27th parkrun. Jen and husband Brian Murphy will be traveling in Australia for the holidays, and they are looking forward to doing some parkruns in slightly warmer weather.
Nobody reached an official parkrun milestone this week, but a few more reached unofficial milestones. New in the 10-parkrun group are: Kristen Limarzi, Janice Bernache, Matthew Mullally, and Xinzi He. And new in the 5-timers at College Park are Eric London (a regular at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun), and Stephen Wills (PB!).
This week we had our largest ever group of volunteers (32), due to the tree planting activity. Here’s the full list: Jay Bao, Dominique Blom, Frank Bohne, Antonia Bookbinder, Gus Campbell, Steve Feld, Cindy Feld, Yefon Fonye, Diana Gough, Xinzi He, Clare Imholtz, Aileen Kroll, Tom Leonard, Eric London, Pam Marcus, Dale Morey, Brian Murphy, Jennifer Murphy, Katie Murtough, Nebafabs Nwafor, Win Persina, Colin Phillips, Hump Plotts, Xiaoxuan Ren, Dan Sarmiento, JJ Su, Larry Washington, Susan Whitney, Ginger Wilkerson, John Wilkerson, Lisa Wilson, and Andrea Zukowski. … Wow.
It feels like something special has been happening at College Park parkrun every week this Fall. And that’s because it has! We didn’t exactly plan things that way, but it kind of happened, as so many of you approached us with cool ideas. We have one more this coming Saturday, when it will be Kid Takeover Day. We really appreciate our younger parkrunners, and this weekend they will be in charge, led by our guest Run Director, 11-year old Ginger Wilkerson. You won’t want to miss this one.
One final thing. We have been working with a team from UMD’s School of Public Health on a research project about parkrun and how it supports sustained physical activity. This is a first step towards understanding how best to support healthy communities across the country. If you’re the kind of person who reads to the end of the run report, then you’re exactly the kind of person who the UMD team would love to hear from. Look out for a survey link in your email and/or social media feeds in the coming days. The survey is straightforward, and it takes 5-10 minutes to complete. Thank you!