Spring is just around the corner (Run Report #71)

It was a beautiful morning for a parkrun. Sunny most of the time, and as our short mid-Atlantic winter starts to wind down, we’re acclimated enough that 34 degrees feels kind of warm. I could have sworn that when I asked if there were any newcomers to parkrun not so many hands went up but according to the results we had 19 first-timers in a field of 107 parkrunners. This doesn’t include the 5 “unknowns” we had this week. While nobody will be turned away, if you want to get your results and see them posted and counted we encourage you to sign up for your free parkrun barcode. The sooner you are official the sooner you start your count to a 50 run shirt. (More on that below.)

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We were pleased to see lots of people enjoying a walk on the trail this week. We have ‘run’ in our name, but as long as you can cover 5k by foot, and enjoy doing it in the company of our supportive community, then you’ll fit right in.

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Among this week’s first timers was a group of UMD ROTC Cadets, led by Kristina McKenna. They had a great time, and they’re looking to come back soon with lots of other young ladies from their battalion. Also, a big high five is in order for Gary Madsen, who completed his first ever 5k at College Park parkrun this week. Congratulations, Gary, and we look forward to many more.

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This week we recognized Junjie (JJ) Su, volunteer extraordinaire, as the College Park parkrunner of the month. JJ is a grad student at UMD who started parkrunning with us last June, and since then he has run 18 times and volunteered at least 15 times, stepping up to help in *all* weathers. Just as important, JJ spreads smiles and encouragement wherever he goes, especially in his regular role as timekeeper. This week JJ and Win Persina were our timekeeping team and a special thanks goes out to them for work above and beyond the call of duty in quickly defusing a conflict in the finish chute. Win was also doing her 10th volunteer stint at parkrun, putting her well on the way to the coveted purple 25-time volunteer shirt.

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No official parkrun milestones this week, but lots of people are reaching unofficial milestones. Tsegaab Hailemichael and Lauren Supina both did their 25th parkruns this week - halfway to 50! Bonnie McClellan did her 10th, showing the youngsters how it’s done. Trace Huard also did his 10th parkrun -- great way to celebrate a birthday! 5 parkrunners joined the College Park parkrun 5-club this week: Ashley Ward, Abe Cutler, Jules Russell, Maia Swisdak, and Adrian Dover. Maia deserves special mention because it was her first time as a volunteer - she and her dad, Marc, were your tailwalkers this week, and Maia also was a roving photographer. Adrian deserves another kind of shout out, as he is the first international parkrun tourist to join our 5-timer club. Adrian normally does his parkruns at Newent parkrun, in the west of England, but he is a regular visitor to the area, and has adopted us as a kind of second home parkrun. When Adrian first joined us, on Christmas Eve 2016, we had just 25 finishers. We’ve grown a little since then.

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In miscellaneous acts of speediness, congrats are due to Erin Munsell, who set another PB on her 21st parkrun. Andreu Orell was back for the second week in a row and proceeded to break the age-category record that he set last week. Nice going! In doing this he made a valiant effort to outrun Clark Ridge. No cigar on that one, but Andreu did succeed in pulling Clark to his fastest run in 10 months.

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As usual, we are grateful to our wonderful volunteers. In addition to JJ, Win, Maia, and Marc, this week’s parkrun was brought to you by Andrea Zukowski, Anna Tinemore, Bernard Kelly, Colin Phillips, Enrique Jograj, Hump Plotts, Julie Russell, and Lisa Wilson. Extra thanks to Jonathan Foley for stepping in to help out as a second barcode scanner when things got busy, and thank you to Nina McGranahan for taking over as finish photographer. Bernard has been a very regular volunteer in the past couple of months, and we’re excited that he’ll soon be returning as a runner. Bernard got injured after returning home for the Dublin Marathon in the Fall, and since then he has been one of our most regular volunteers. He’ll get an extra cheer next time that he runs.

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We have some upcoming attractions to share with you. Next week, February 24th, will be Andrea Zukowski’s 50th parkrun. As many of you know, Andrea is the mama of College Park parkrun, who got it all started, and who is thrilled to see you all every week. Do come out to celebrate Andrea next week. And it looks like warmer weather too, so even more reasons to come out.

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March 24th is the official launch of Kensington parkrun, our sister event, on the Rock Creek Trail. College Park parkrun will definitely go ahead as usual that day, but we won’t be offended if you pack up your barcode and head over to Kensington to check out their scenic double out-and back route. That will be the first of a series of new parkrun launches in the early Spring. The following week (March 31st) parkrun will arrive in Boston, at Jamaica Pond parkrun. And the following weekend should see the launch of the world’s highest parkrun - watch this space for more news.

See you soon,
Chris McGranahan and Colin Phillips

 

Double Birthday (Run Report #69)

This wasn’t the first week College Park parkrunners chose to celebrate their birthday with us, but this week’s double birthdays were particularly fun. Ben Flamm didn’t know it was Violet’s birthday, nor did he know that Violet loves donuts, but he brought donuts to celebrate his own birthday. Likewise, Violet didn’t know it was Ben’s birthday, but by choosing to come to parkrun on her own birthday, she reined in her speedy dad Clark, which gave Ben the pleasure of being First Finisher on his 43rd birthday. Perfect.

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We tipped our hats to Kensington parkrun in honor of their first practice run just before our start by having everyone make a K with their bodies, with mixed success. We'll have another chance to do this for the official launch on March. 24th, so practice those Ks!

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In other fun this week, on his 30th parkrun, Mayor Patrick Wojahn brought his mom Karen for her second visit to our event. She lives in Wisconsin, and asked when there’s going to be a parkrun there. Karen, at the rate parkrun USA is growing (namely: doubling the number of events and participants every year), that’s bound to happen soon!

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John Wilkerson’s run this week puts him in the College Park 25-club, and Cathy Madsen and Carrie Murphy both joined the now-enormous College Park 5-club. Frank Filteau ran his 49th parkrun this week, and you know what that means … a celebration this week! Among our 11 PBs this week, two are standouts, because the more parkruns you do, the harder it is to top your best: Xinzi He managed a PB on her 18th parkrun, and Dom Blom clocked one on her 40th parkrun!

Our volunteers are wonderful every week, but we're even more appreciative when they come out to support you on days as cold as this, when the mercury was barely at 20 degrees. Thanks to Will Bobseine, Gus Campbell, Diana Gough, Nick Huang, Rumi Matsuyama, Hump Plotts, Mark Shroder, Chenae White, and Susan Whitney. And of course we would be nowhere without the on-course help every week of Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson, especially on these cold, cold days. If you haven't tried your hand yet at volunteering at College Park parkrun, do drop us a line at collegeparkhelpers@parkrun.com. It's fun, and it's a great way to give back. 

Great weather in store for this weekend, so we'll see you there!

Andrea Zukowski
Run Director

 

Thank you, Mother Nature (Run Report #68)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

#loveparkrun

Fondly,
Pam Marcus

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Our unofficial 100th parkrun (Run Report #67)

Three weekends into January and we are already seeing some really encouraging turnout numbers. This weekend, we had 105 parkrunners show up -- which is the 8th largest turnout we have had in the entire history of this parkrun. All previous turnouts were special occasions, like New Year's Day, UMD's Homecoming, Thanksgiving, etc., with lot of tourists and guests. But not this past Saturday. This was just a normal Saturday, a home crowd, lots of familiar faces. Of course, we were lucky that it was an atypically pleasant January morning: 40-degree weather and clear skies.

As always, people brought their family and friends. Our parkrunner of the Month Rumi Matsuyama brought two more members of Hyattsville Hyperactive, Eva Müller and Michelle Brandy. Last week's tailwalker Danielle Dunham this week brought a friend, Frederica Nash. Chuandi Jia and his mom Qiao Qiao were smiles all along the course. Astrid Salguero and her mom Thelma Cordón showed up a minute late, but caught up with the rest in no time. Will Etti has been following us on Strava for a while, and decided to join us in person on Saturday.

newcomers 2018jan20Plenty of PBs this morning: The Collins family had a great showing: Samuel, Hannah, and Helena and  Kalonji *all* set personal bests. Matthew Mullally set a PB, after coming within a second of breaking his previous PB last weekend. Sheilah Kast set a PB on parkrun #4, and Emily Flamm set her 13th PB, out of a total of 19 parkruns, all at College Park.

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We also celebrated landmarks. First, Ken Leonard celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the adoption of his dog Scout, with a dog- and human-friendly cake with lots of peanut butter. Scout has been a faithful dog and an enthusiastic parkrunner, completing 24 parkruns with Ken. Also special shout-outs to John Ramsey (30 parkruns); parkrunner of the month for January, Rumi Matsuyama (25 parkruns); Bernadette Gormally, Trinidad Molina, Evan Hirsche, Paul Kittredge (20 parkuns); Craig Thompson (10 parkruns). Ellen Gray, Enrique Jograj, and Valerie Silensky joined the unofficial College Park 5-club, which now boasts a total of 243 members. We wanted to also give a shout-out to Valerie for her enthusiasm: she only started on Dec 30, 2017, but she has been to every parkrun since, and volunteered twice.

landmarks 2018jan20Congratulations, too, to our friends at Fletcher's Cove parkrun, who marked their 100th parkrun with lots of pizza. Fletcher's Cove was the first parkrun to start in the DC area. On a personal note, this was where I did my first official parkrun, and it was really quite a revelation to see how parkrun worked. Unfortunately, I couldn't join them on Saturday. So, happy 100th, Fletcher's Cove, and here's to many more free 5ks! (Also: while there was only one parkrun in the DC area two years ago, there are now four -- soon five -- parkruns in the area, with more than 6,000 registered parkrunners.)

Co-event director Colin Phillips also helpfully pointed out that this Saturday was the 100th time we have had a parkrun at the Paint Branch Trail: there were 33 unofficial parkruns before College Park parkrun officially launched. So, happy unofficial 100th, us!

Lastly, as we like to say, parkrun is impossible without volunteers. As this week's run director, I want to thank the following for their help: marshals Lisa Wilson and Hump Plotts and tailwalker Valerie Silensky, for making sure our parkrunners completed the course safely, Dale Morey and Bernard Kelly, who did a great job keeping time, Jake Foley (and his dog Lola), for stepping in the last minute to hand out tokens, JJ Su, for scanning and sorting tokens (the Board and Brew regulars were very disappointed to hear that he had already taken care of them). Lisa, Norm Bernache, and Colin Phillips took up their usual locations for photographs, while co-event director Andrea Zukowski completed her 46th parkrun while taking photos along the course. volunteers 2018jan20

And that's it for this weekend. As it stands, the weather forecast next Saturday looks good, too. And it will be a special parkrun day, as we'll be celebrating our friends who are about to launch a new parkrun on the Rock Creek Trail in Kensington, MD. It will be a bittersweet moment for us. It means that some of our regular parkrunners will be in College Park less often on Saturday morning. But we're also thrilled to see this new community taking off, and they will be close by, so we are looking forward to lots of local parkrun tourism between Kensington and College Park. This week (1/27), our Run Director at College Park will be Pam Marcus, ringleader of Kensington parkrun, and she'll be joined by other members of the Kensington team. Next weekend (2/3) they will start weekly trial parkrun 5Ks in Kensington. Same arrangement as usual: 9am start, 5k, friendly and welcoming. And coffee afterwards. The official launch of Kensington parkrun, when you'll need your barcode, is set for March 24th.

See you all soon.

Nick Huang

 

Fancy meeting you here! (Run Report #66)

College Park parkrun #66 got off to a brisk start. The wind chill factor stayed well above zero, but many people (including me) were glad to use the hand warmers that co-event directors Andrea Zukowski and Colin Phillips kindly brought along.

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Despite the cold, 100 people took part. A crowd in the triple digits has become a normal turnout and it shows just how devoted people are to parkrun here in College Park. But parkrunners in Eagan, MN showed perhaps a tad more devotion because six of them braved a temperature of -9 F. That’s before accounting for the wind chill! The hardy Eagan runners joined a total 248,000 people worldwide, an all-time record, thanks in large part to New Years Resolutions in the Southern Hemisphere that benefit from warmer weather.

Rumi Matsuyama was named parkrunner of the Month for January, in recognition of her tireless advocacy of community-based fitness in the College Park/Hyattsville area, including parkrun, plus a lot of parkruns herself. (Follow Rumi and her happy clan on the Hyattsville Hyperactive group on Facebook.) As her award was announced, Eric London, visiting from Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, recognized her name and realized that they had worked together more than 20 years ago but hadn’t seen each other since then. The two were reunited after Rumi volunteered as a photographer.

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Saturday’s crowd included 55 people who have already run with us at least 10 times. It also included 12 first-timers we hope see at future parkruns, and 12 people who made PBs:

  • Emily Flamm, with her 12th PB in 18 runs
  • JJ Su, on his 16th parkrun
  • Win Persina, part of the VW55-59 group, easily the most competitive age group at CP parkrun
  • Becky Gitter and Joanie Myles from the Hyattsville Hyperactive group, on the same day that Rumi Matsuyama received the POTM award
  • Mary Wester, running with dad Paul ahead of returning to college
  • Helena Santos-Collins, Samuel Collins and Hannah Collins, all on the same day
  • Cotter Rosenberg, a second-timer. This time he got the better of his dad, Duane Rosenberg. But Cotter has about a 40-year advantage on his dad.

 

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We also had several mini-milestones:

  • Tara Mease and Xander Mease both made their 25th runs, halfway to the 50 club. (Impressively, 8 people did their 23rd or 24th parkrun on Saturday … including me.)
  • Maria Cecil marked 10 runs.
  • The 5-parkrun club now includes Marc Swisdak, Bin Cao, and Deborah Gayle.
  • Despite the insane cold that started the year, there are 20 people who have done all 3 CP parkruns so far this year. Who can keep this streak going?

 

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Seven furry “barkrunners” were in attendance. Colin thinks that’s a record, but he can’t be sure because we don’t have barcodes and data for the dogs. I suspect that Scout, accompanied by his human running partner, Ken Leonard, may have hit a milestone or two. Either way, she was pretty stoked to have so many four-legged friends this week.

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While the cold wasn’t as bad as last week, it was still nippy, especially if you were volunteering and not moving around much. We are so grateful for our volunteer crew. Diehard parkrun volunteers Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson served as marshalls. Lisa says that being out in the cold makes your blood thick and ready for more winter weather. It seems to be working for her and Hump, because they are out there every week. Volunteering at the finish line were Brian Murphy, Jen Murphy, Jordan and Jake Foley, Bernard Kelly. Pam Marcus, Danielle Durham, and Rumi Matsuyama were tailwalkers and photographers, joined by Norm Bernache, who stopped by after most runners had left. Chris McGranahan was run director, and he is very thankful to Nick Huang for processing results in record time!

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Trail news: we have arranged with Prince George's Parks to "adopt" our stretch of the Paint Branch Trail. We love the trail, and benefit from it every week. By adopting the trail were are committing to helping to take care of it, including quarterly clean-ups. Plus some signage on the trail to tell other trail users who we are. Look out for upcoming announcements about our first trail cleanup day.

 

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We are looking forward to our upcoming Kensington parkrun Day on January 27. Pam Marcus, who has been a regular runner and volunteer here in College Park, will lead trial runs in Kensington every Saturday, beginning on February 3rd, in preparation for an official launch on March 24th. We’re excited to see our new sister parkrun get off the ground, and we can’t wait to visit them.

Debbie Levenson

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Deep Freeze (Run Report #65)

College Park parkrun #65 saw our smallest turnout in many months, but for the 42 parkrunners who came along it was one that they won’t forget in a hurry. It was cold. Very cold.  At 9am it was 10 degrees F, with the windchill making it feel like -4F. Easily the coldest temps we have ever had for a parkrun in College Park. The second coldest parkrun was just 5 days earlier at our New Years Day event.

As the “bomb cyclone” sucked down arctic air masses from the north, half of parkrun USA events were forced to cancel. We went ahead in College Park because the snow on the trail was solid underfoot, and because we could bring a vehicle close to the start to help keep the volunteers warm(-ish) during the run.

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The volunteers were the main story of the day. They didn’t get to run, so they didn’t get to warm up. And despite the small number of parkrunners we had one of our highest number of volunteers ever. A total of 5 people offered to be tail walker this week. We encouraged two to try another day, and went ahead with 3 tail walkers, to ensure that there would be strength in numbers at the back of the pack. Thank you to Diana Gough, Julie Russell, and Enrique Jograj! We were concerned that Lisa and Hump might get too cold standing along as marshals, but they assured us that the show should go on. Thank you both! Lisa did concede afterwards that she was starting to get a little cold. At the finish line, JJ Su, Bernard Kelly, Tony San, and Mike Heitzmann took care of the timing, scanning, and suchlike. Thank you! Andrea Zukowski was run director, and she outdid herself in giving our shortest run briefing ever. Pam Marcus came along as backup volunteer and safety officer. When she saw that Andrea was getting too cold, she dispatched her to a warm van to thaw out and took over. John Ramsey had the unique volunteer role of “hand warmer elf”. Thanks to John for visiting REI on Friday and sourcing a box to keep us warm. And thanks to Dale Morey and Anna Tinnemore for having warm enough hands afterwards to sort finisher tokens.

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With the extreme conditions, it was the die-hards who came along. Unusually, we didn’t have any new 5-timers or 10-timers this week, because almost everybody present had already done at least 10 College Park parkruns. Just as unusually, we had 3 people who ran their 25th time with us this week: Diana Gough, Lisa Parsons, and Steve Feld. We can see red 50-parkrun shirts in prospect for each of these in 2018. Our 3 first-timers included Cotter Rosenberg, who came along with his dad, Duane Rosenberg. Megan Palmer and Jonathan Garcia were our other two first-timers. What a day to visit us for the first time. We promise that it will be warmer next time. A special mention is also due to Nancy Gant, the only PB of the day, beating the time that she ran on her first outing, just 5 days earlier. If Nancy can run a PB on a day like this, we suspect that there’s more to come.

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While almost everybody wrapped up warm, it should be noted for the record that 3 people ran in shorts: Clark Ridge, Jack Kammerer, and Hans Meurer. Just don’t try this at home, kids.

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Much more sensibly, 20 joined us for a nice warm cup of coffee afterwards at The Board and Brew. Now that is a smart move.

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Aside from the frigid parkrun, we had one piece of exciting news this week. We heard from the UK that Kensington parkrun has been approved to officially launch on March 24th, running on a double out-and-back route on the Rock Creek Trail. Trial runs will start on February 3rd, and will continue through to the official launch, and on January 27th we’ll have a special day for Kensington parkrunners. Congratulations to Pam Marcus and to the rest of the Kensington team, all of whom are familiar faces at College Park. We can’t wait to visit!

Speaking of things that we can’t wait for, rumor has it that by next Saturday there will be no snow on the ground and temperatures will be above freezing. See you at 9am. Don’t forget your barcode.

Colin Phillips

 

 

Bringing people together on NYD (Run Report #64)

Happy new year, friends!

It may not have escaped your notice that parkrun is all about bringing people together in a supportive environment. On New Year’s Day, this togetherness was on display in spades.

127 of you braved the bitter cold temps, making this our third largest parkrun ever at College Park.  We co-hosted the first ever double NYD parkrun on this side of the Atlantic, which brought together parkrunners from Leakin Park, College Park, and other DC-area parkruns, visitors from West Virginia, Delaware, and Australia, and Event Directors from a record 7 different US parkruns (Leakin Park, College Park, Anacostia, Roosevelt Island, Fletcher’s Cove, Mansfield, and the soon-to-be Kensington parkrun). We were also thrilled to welcome Anthony Nolan, Chief of the Special Programs Division at PG Parks, who brought along his whole family, two of whom were first timers.

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We also co-hosted our event with Prince George’s Running Club, who accounted for over 20 of our runners and volunteers. We’re very pleased that we’ve been seeing some cross-pollination between PGRC and parkrun. That’s the way it’s supposed to work!

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We had some other things to celebrate besides the new year. Co-event director Colin Phillips ran his milestone 50th (and 51st) parkruns on Jan. 1st, in addition to celebrating his 50th birthday (leading us to wonder whether this 50-50 achievement has ever been done before…yeah, we have no idea how to answer this question either). Can you think of a better way to celebrate your birthday than by running a 5k with 126 of your closest friends, and then eating breakfast with 40 of them?  Coming in as first finisher was icing on the cake, but honestly, the cake was delicious enough on its own (both the metaphorical cake and the birthday cake; hope you got some!). We discovered at the Board and Brew that a second parkrunner celebrated a big birthday on Jan 1st: Happy birthday, Deborah Gayle!

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Many of our NYD runners are very close to reaching official parkrun milestones: Joyce Adams (49) and Svetlana Stanaford (99), who are the current and outgoing Event Directors at Roosevelt Island, and Simon Wraight (99), who has to travel all the way from West Virginia to get his parkrun fix.  Many others joined the unofficial College Park 5 and 10 clubs on NYD:  Susan Keller and Meredith Phillips have each run CP parkrun 10 times, and Jolanta Blazaite, Robert Bourque, Maya Aleshnik, Zak Mellen, and Jack Crocker have each run it 5 times. The other accomplishments we love to highlight are First Timers, PBs, and ‘Comebacks’.  We get about 10 First Timers most weeks, but on NYD we had a whopping 22 First Timers to our course, and 18 of them had never run a parkrun anywhere (warning: it’s habit-forming!). Despite the cold temps, 9 people managed to achieve a new PB: congratulations to Farrah Darbouze, Natalie Hanno, Vivienne Miller, Anthony Nolan, Thomas Nolan, Tracy Watson, Tim Ramsey, Valerie Silensky, and Svetlana Stanaford.

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Our ‘Comebacks’ on NYD included Ken Leonard and Scout, who have been very much missed lo these many months (especially by Xander!) and Stephanie Coomes, who was back running her first parkrun since giving birth a few months ago. Welcome back to all 3 of you!

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I hereby grant our NYD volunteers extra hero points for making parkrun work like a well-oiled machine on a crazy cold day, without the benefit of exercise to keep warm. As is befitting our NYD theme of parkrun bringing people together, our volunteers came from all over. THANK YOU Tony San (from Roosevelt Island parkrun), Lailah Strube (from Fletcher’s Cove parkrun), Bernard Kelly, Lloyd Rawley, and Joann Tschiffely (from PGRC), and Dale Morey, Katie Murtough, Colin Phillips, Hump Plotts, Valerie Siensky, JJ Su and Lisa Wilson (all from CP parkrun).

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I’ll end this New Year’s report with a story. A few weeks ago, as he was leaving the Board and Brew, one of our parkrunners said to me “I don’t know why parkrun works, but it just does. I’ve run other races, but at parkrun, I don’t get knots in my stomach, even though I still run as fast as I can. It just works. It's magic.”

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I think there’s a simple reason for this: it’s because, at parkrun, you know you’re among friends. That makes all the difference in the world.

We look forward to seeing all of our old friends and making many more new friends in the coming year.

Hope to see you tomorrow!  You’re planning to wrap up warm, right?

 

-Andrea

 

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

 

 

Unexpected gifts (Run Report #62)

We had plenty to be thankful for by the time the tailwalkers returned around 10am last Saturday. But by the time some of us left the park closer to 2pm we had a whole lot more to be thankful for. It was a rather memorable morning for some of us. Let’s start with the run, and then we’ll get to the post-run afterwards. This one is a bit long, but the stuff at the end matters.

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Hi! This is Colin, co-Event Director and one of this week’s volunteers. I’ll explain later why I didn’t run this week, and why Pam Marcus, this week’s Run Director, has better things to do than pen this run report.

We were happy to be back at College Park parkrun after a week off due to dangerous ice. We were thrilled that last week, despite the cancellation notice coming barely an hour before the 9am start, College Park parkrunners somehow made their way to 5 different locations. A couple each showed up in the results for Leakin Park parkrun, Anacostia parkrun, Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, and Roosevelt Island parkrun. And a few others showed up at College Park, with ice cleats, and enjoyed the trail anyway. Andrea and I made it to Roosevelt Island in the nick of time, and we got to sample the great new coffee shop that they’re using for post-parkrun meetups. The coffee and the company at Central Coffee in Rosslyn are just lovely … but our hearts remain with The Board and Brew.

Last year our pre-Christmas parkrun was just as grey and damp as this week, and we had our lowest ever turnout of 25. This year there were 93 finishers, of whom 50 have run College Park parkrun at least 10 times. That’s quite a difference. We are thrilled by the resilience of the community.

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Our 11 first-timers this week included just one parkrun tourist. That’s about par for the course at College Park parkrun. But it was no run of the mill parkrun tourist. Euan Bowman is country manager for parkrun Canada, which has gone from zero to a dozen events in just over a year. Euan has a long parkrun history, as he was the founder of one of the very first parkruns, Basingstoke parkrun in the UK, which this week held its 512th event (!). You can read a cool story about Euan’s introduction to parkrun here. With nice mountains and charming Canadians to parkrun with, why would Euan choose to visit College Park? Well, mostly because it’s a great way to visit his sister and nieces, Vivienne, Autumn, and Natalie, who all live nearby. But perhaps it was also because he heard about the great coffee at The Board and Brew (it’s no Tim Hortons, but we love it). And perhaps also because we have such a great course. For his 91st parkrun, Euan ran his fastest ever time, and came *that* close to his first ever first finish. More impressive was the fact that Euan didn’t need to volunteer this week. He has volunteered 265 times previously at parkrun.

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We had one official milestone reached this week. Katie Hirsche reached her 10-run milestone. A nice white parkrun shirt is yours, just as soon as the new shipment of 40,000 shirts reaches London in February. This week Katie helped push Tsegaab Hailemichael to a new PB on his 22nd parkrun. Congratulations, Katie! One unofficial milestone was that Diana Gough did her 25th parkrun, and so she is now halfway to a prized red parkrun 50 shirt. Just as important, Diana and her son Carlos celebrated Carlos’ 11th birthday this weekend. This is the “parkrun liberation” birthday, which means that Carlos gets to run without mom. He celebrated by running a 2-minute PB. Nice! We also had one other new 10-timer this week. Cathy Flynn has reached this point in just 12 weeks, an achievement in itself. We had 4 new members of our 5-run club: Katherine Kirklin, Katie Murtough, Christian Ngassa, and Lina Sun. It’s great to see these folks becoming regular members of our growing community.

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Other PBs this week included Janice Bernache, who was proudly sporting an apricot College Park parkrun shirt. Sales of these shirts help to support the free milestone shirts that more and more of our parkrunners are earning. Violet Ridge took a minute and a half from her PB on her 18th parkrun, as she tries to run as fast as she can before turning 9 years old. This means that it was also an unofficial PB for her baby brother Felix, who slept for most of the way while being pushed by dad Clark. Joan Myles got a 1-second PB on her 6th parkrun, and Steve Feld took over a minute from his PB on his 30th parkrun. Aside from setting these PBs, we’re really happy that Clark Ridge, Steve Feld and Cindy Feld are now joining our roster of core team members and Run Directors for College Park parkrun. You’ll be hearing more from them in the coming months.

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And there are reasons why we need new blood in the core team ...

Pam Marcus was our intrepid Run Director this week, for the fourth and penultimate time. This sounds like bad news, but it’s actually great news. Pam and a team of College Park regulars now have permission from Montgomery County Parks to start a new weekly parkrun on the Rock Creek Trail in Kensington. Weekly practice parkruns will start on February 3rd, with the official launch hopefully in early Spring. At present their top priority is to raise the startup funds needed for Kensington parkrun, so if you know of organizations that share our values and might be able to help, we’d love to hear from you. We are excited to see a sister event start in Montgomery County, and we’re looking forward to a lot of local parkrun tourism between the two events. You can follow the development of Kensington parkrun on their new Facebook page, or by joining their mailing list at kensingtonpracticeparkruns@yahoo.com.

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Our wonderful volunteers got an extra surprise this week. An anonymous parkrunner delivered gift cards to CP parkrun Towers under the cover of darkness on Friday night, and we had the pleasure of handing them out on Saturday. Two parkrunners had the extra fun of delivering them to Hump and Lisa en route. We love our volunteers, but this week they went above and beyond the call of duty (read on …). In addition to stalwarts Hump and Lisa (countless volunteer occasions), JJ Su completed his 10th time as volunteer this week. Jenn Augsburger is so helpful that we sometimes have to encourage her to run (13 runs, 14 volunteer stints). Dan Sarmiento kindly jumped in at the last minute. Bernard Kelly kept track of times. And Diana Gough was tailwalker - she is about halfway to her 50-run milestone *and* to her 25-volunteer stint milestone. Thank you all!

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Please read this. All of this seemed like a normal warm-and-fuzzy parkrun morning, until the tailwalkers returned, and we learned that we had a missing parkrunner. An elderly parkrunner who came with family members had not yet returned. At first parkrun volunteers set out to check the trail: by foot, by bike, and by car, also checking businesses on Baltimore Avenue. After those searches all came up blank the police were called in. This was the M-NCPPC Park Police, and we were very impressed indeed with their response and with their professionalism. The search eventually included vehicles, dogs, horses, a helicopter, and a profiler. The works. The trail searches found nothing, but by 1:30 the police were able to confirm that the lost parkrunner was safely back home, about 10 miles away. Everybody was intensely relieved, though also a bit shaken by the experience.

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What happened? It appears that the elder parkrunner had made it to the turnaround in good time. Lisa’s photos turned out to be invaluable this week. And then this parkrunner made it most of the way back to Hump on the return, before turning back north on the trail. We are not sure why. They exited the trail before meeting the tailwalkers, and made to to Route 1. At which point they walked the mile north to IKEA and got help calling a taxi from there. The good news is that our lost parkrunner was safe throughout. The bad news is that they slipped through our safety net.

So, what can we do? At parkrun we have rules that help with safeguarding for young children. But we have nothing specific for elders or other at-risk groups. And it is hard to make rules without undermining autonomy and respect. As a parkrun team (locally and nationally) we are taking various measures to respond to this incident. But one of the most useful responses is in your hands: the more you are attentive to other parkrunners, especially those at risk, the better we will fare. In fact, it was thanks to a couple of very attentive parkrunners that we were able to reconstruct what happened to our missing parkrunner this week. We have the utmost admiration for our elder parkrunners. Say hi to them, before the run, and during the run. Welcome them at the finish. None of this is demeaning, and it could help us to notice if somebody does not return.

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Holiday parkrunning. Since you’re likely reading this during the holidays, we need to update you on the remainder of our holiday parkrunning. It’s going to be a little chilly, so wrap up warm. But don’t let the temps keep you from enjoying the outdoors with friends.

On Saturday December 30th we’ll have our final parkrun of 2017. There have been 3999 finishers so far this year. So you had better show up, or we won’t reach 4000 for 2017!

Monday January 1st. I must admit that I’m really looking forward to this one. On New Year’s Day I’m turning 50, it will be my 50th parkrun, and we’re teaming up with Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore for North America’s first double parkrun. I ran my 49th parkrun last week at Roosevelt Island, so that’s why I’m holding off until New Years to do the 50th. Double parkruns are a New Years tradition in Australia and the UK, but it has never been possible on our continent until now. It’s going to be cold, but we will be thrilled if you can join us. We’ll run at 8:30am in Leakin Park - let’s help them to set another attendance record - and then we’ll zip down to College Park for our 10:30am parkrun, a co-production with the wonderful folks at Prince George’s Running Club. There will be (cold) cake. And there will be a big post-parkrun gathering at The Board and Brew in College Park, to which all are invited. You can read more about plans for the New Years event(s) in this news item.

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Two quick parting thoughts. Some of our regulars are on tour this week for the holidays. Run Directors Brian and Jen Murphy are vacationing in Australia, and they already have two parkruns under their belts. It was cool to see that they had already finished their Saturday parkrun in Melbourne by 5pm Friday our time. They did another parkrun in Melbourne on Christmas Day, and rumor has it that they may be taking in 3 more over the New Years weekend. At the other end of the temperature spectrum, I was wondering on Saturday where Xinzi He was. Her smile has been a regular feature of our parkrun this Fall. And then I got a text on my phone from Boston, where Xinzi had visited one of the trial runs of the soon-to-be Jamaica Pond parkrun, in the snow. We have been working closely with the Jamaica Pond team, and they’re doing great things for their community in Boston. So I was thrilled to see that Xinzi and her friends had met up with these new friends in Boston. Pictures below.

See you soon!

Colin Phillips

 

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A snowy celebration (Run Report #61)

As we got closer and closer to parkrun day in the DC Metro area, the weather forecast was going south (or should I say north?). Snow seemed more and more likely and a few of us were getting worried about parkrun even happening, or worse, no one coming. Well, when we awoke Saturday morning, it was cold, it was windy, but no snow. Yet!

The snow started falling about 30 minutes before the parkrun start. A few of the volunteers chatted before others arrived, trying to guess the number of runners we’d see. Wow, did we underestimate the parkrun community! On a cold, windy, snowy December day, College Park parkrun had 83 amazing runners and walkers and 10 truly wonderful volunteers. And we had a wonderful event for all of them.

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We had a special milestone to celebrate on Saturday. Gus Campbell started joining parkrun a little over a year ago at the insistence of his daughter, Jen. He was hooked immediately. The community embraced him and there he met some great new friends. There is warm breakfast with these new friends after parkrun. He loves checking the results shortly after parkrun and setting new PBs. Maybe the most important reason he was hooked: family. Joining everyone at parkrun meant he could spend the morning with his daughter and son-in-law (me!). On this Saturday, surrounded by this great community, his new friends, and both daughters, both son-in-laws, and his grandson, Gus celebrated his 50th parkrun! Congratulations, Gus!

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Not to be overlooked, Paul Wester hit an unofficial milestone this week. Paul ran his 20th parkrun! Congratulations, Paul! Just 30 more to catchup to Gus. Also, Nick Huang ran his 25th parkrun, about a month after reaching the official milestone for volunteering 25 times. And College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn also made it halfway to 50 parkruns, keeping alive his promise to reach his 50 parkrun milestone during his second term, which started this week. This week’s one new 10-timer was Anna Tinnemore, and for once we had no new 5-timers.

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I don’t know if the snow helped anyone run faster, but it sure did look good. First finisher was the always speedy Clark Ridge. Clark was followed closely by Niko Fedkin, setting a new PB and an age category record. In fact, there were 14 PBs set on Saturday. Elmer Hernandez dipped under 20 minutes for the first time. Ken and Gina Witcher both set PBs, with Gina paced by 11-year old Nathan Widman, also setting a PB. Chris Nakamura of UMD Triathlon returned for a PB, set while trying to chase Cindy Conant (good luck!). Xinzi He and Kristen Limarzi continued their growing line of PBs. Rose Lafferty, Enrique Jograj, Crystal Walcott, Bin Cao, and Marc Swisdak all were first timers last week and returned with PBs this week. Kristine Rogers returned after a few weeks and took a big chunk from her PB.

Really fantastic to watch as the snow fell. Congrats to everyone!

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It was great to see family and friends among this week’s first timers. Becky Widman joined Andrew and Nathan Widman for the first time. Matthew Mullally ran with with his daughter Madison. Jacob Gerbig was there to join his granddad’s 50 parkrun celebration. And Maia Swisdak came along with her mom and dad.

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I could not give enough praise to the volunteers this week. I know how cold it was for everyone, and you still came to help out. Your hearts are warmer than the handwarmers that many needed that day. On Saturday we had golf course marshal Hump Plotts. Turn around marshal Lisa Wilson. Tail walker was Cindy Feld. Timing was well handled by Steve Feld and the always energetic JJ Su. Finish tokens was a dual effort by Sam McGranahan and Nina McGranahan. Barcodes were scanned by John Wilkerson. The wonderful photos of you smiling in the snow were taken by Jen Murphy, together with Lisa Wilson and Cindy Feld. And finally big thanks to Nick Huang for the results processing and token sorting.

Brian Murphy

 

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