This week’s title is a nod to a classic Stevie Wonder album, in honor of this week’s debut Run Director Bud Verge, who has been keeping us musically enriched through his weekly CP parkrun playlists on Spotify.
The park and trail were buzzing on Saturday. So many happy, positive people, cool stories and achievements. And milder weather that we just don’t come to expect in July in the DMV.
This week we have our usual line-up of stories, together with a photo album that made us smile a LOT. And we also have an update on how emerging information about the Delta variant impacts safety at our event.
Alan Mulindwa (right) joined us for the 75th time, and beat a PB that he set way back in early 2017.
We were excited to welcome back Abdur-Rahman Quadri to CP parkrun this week. When Abdur first joined us he was a UMD grad student from Nigeria who was living in the apartment building that practically overlooks the park. So he could practically roll out of bed on a Saturday morning and be with us in 2 minutes. He graduated a couple of years ago and is now based closer to Baltimore, but he still comes to the area to enjoy the trails.
Welcome back, Abdur ... and Happy Birthday!
In addition to his big heart and infectious smile, Abdur is also a rather good photographer. So we were excited when he showed up and offered to explore the trail with his camera.
One thing that he forgot to mention to us is that it was his birthday. Happy birthday, Abdur! After seeing the photo album that he sent us, it feels like we were the ones who got a birthday gift.
We have a big photo album this week, because Abdur made everybody look so good!
We welcomed our largest crowd since January 2020, with 170 finishers. That added to the buzz at the park. And the buzz lasted for a while, thanks to the continued great group of walkers and run-walkers. (More than 60 finished after 40:00 for the third consecutive week.)
It feels so good to share the trail with a big crowd of friendly folks again
Folks running north on the trail this week were surprised to see a young woman charging ahead of Clark Ridge. (We should add that Clark was not taking it easy.) First timer Nina Zarina torched our female course record with a time of 17:18. Then she went right out and ran the course again, finishing her second lap while many were still on their first. Wow.
Nina already holds the course record at all three of the DC parkruns. She also won the San Francisco Marathon in 2019. So she’s a known speedster. But a cool thing about Nina is that she did not start running until her 20s, running for fitness. And then discovered that she was rather good at it. You can read her story here. Also, Nina has done a lot of parkruns. This was her 38th, so she’s ¾ of the way to earning a 50 shirt.
17:18 course record for Nina Zarina. Wow!
We had two 50 sashes to hand out this week.
Brian Murphy has been with us from the start. He and Jen first joined us on a rainy morning two weeks before our official launch, on a day with 9 finishers of a 5-ish kilometer route (“Just run to the post and back.”) So he has really seen the community grow.
It’s almost surprising that it has taken Brian so long to reach this milestone. But it makes more sense if you know that he has also volunteered nearly 50 times. He already joined the crew in event #3, in the role of (pre-Lisa) turnaround marshal. By 2017 he was in our regular rota of on-the-day leaders. Brian always brings a smile, and is always looking to help out. And in his spare time he’s also vice president of Montgomery County Road Runners. And in training for a marathon.
Heather Sisan first joined us in late 2017 on the day when we hosted the UMD Homecoming 5K. Since 2018 we have shared custody of Heather on a Saturday morning with our friends at Kensington parkrun. Heather is another who spreads positivity wherever she goes.
Heather became an invaluable member of our virtual volunteer crew during our pandemic events, when she practically invented the “virtual cheerleader” role. Hundreds of people were checking in with us via social media and other channels on the things that they had been doing to stay active. Heather ensured that everybody felt seen and appreciated.
… and this week she went and set a PB for the second time in as many weeks.
50 sash and a second PB in as many weekends. Nice, Heather!
Brian and Heather received their 50 sashes for the day from the lovely Laurie Fisher and Lucy Younes, who wore those sashes themselves just a couple of weeks ago (and who received their new red shirts in the mail just a couple of days ago).
CJ Eddings also earned a milestone shirt for his 10th time (as an under 18).
And although 25-time finishers are not yet A Thing, we hear that parkrun plans to make it An Official Thing in the next couple of months. So we’re going to need to start practicing keeping an eye out for them. This week we had 4 new 25 timers: Erin and Samantha Schneider, Kayla Hayes, and Tami Graf.
Thanks are due to Kayla for stepping up as one of this week’s photographers. One of our favorite pictures from her set this week -- her mom!
One of the great pictures that Kayla got -- her mom!
In addition to her 25th parkrun, Tami became our first ever finisher in the 85-89 age group. And we think she also ran the fastest ever parkrun in the US for her age group (no, she’s not the only person to try it). All in a day’s work for Tami, as we hear that she recently set an American record for 5,000m on the track, and a WORLD record for the 200m hurdles. Inspiring stuff, Tami!
World record holder in our midst! Hands up if you would love to be jumping hurdles at 85!
We welcomed 15 first timers this week. In addition to Nina Zarina and her husband Max Usubyan, there were John Hudak, Eric Johnson, Graham Ferguson, Dan Christenson, Steven Bailey, Khailen Carroll, Freddie Santiago, Carl Womack, Mark Preston, Daia Hansford, Tamara Wood, and Ruith Smith.
As always, we very much hope to see them again. And we are optimistic that we will. Most people who join us for the first time come back for a second visit.
Welcome to Carl Womack and Mark Preston
Nice run by first-timer Daia Hansford
You did it Ruith!
College Park Anywhere parkrun
As always, we’re happy to hear from community members wherever they were getting active this week.
5 of you recorded (not)parkruns, including Cindy Cohen, who is now based in northern Idaho, and who recorded a (not)parkrun PB this week. We hope that she’s managing to avoid the fires and smoke out there.
We found Derek Symer visiting our friends at Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor, MI. Good to see him representing in one of our Tunnel of Trees shirts.
And we heard from Catherine Francoeur that she had a chance to call in on our friends at Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun in Madison, WI.
Congratulations to Bud Verge on his first turn at the helm this week. Bud has been trying out a bunch of different volunteer roles in recent weeks as he works his way back from a stress fracture injury. He was a natural as skipper for the day.
New sheriff! Bud is clearly a natural leading the event
Jen Matis, Lori Dominick, and Larry Washington also volunteered while injured this week. We wish them a speedy and safe recovery. You don’t have to be injured to join the volunteer crew. But if you are, then it’s a good way to still enjoy the CP parkrun vibe.
Tailwalker Janet Tate looked like she had been in a collision. But she assured us that her wrapped arm was scheduled maintenance.
Thanks to Sharon Raszap-Skorbiansky for trying her hand at the first-timers’ welcome. We love how more people are giving this important role a try.
And thanks to our newest member of the volunteer crew, 11-year old Mariella McElhenny. Mariella did a great job coordinating with timekeepers Larry and Lloyd. And she also embraced the opportunity to be a cheerleader as much as a giver of small pieces of plastic.
That request again: please do sign up for our once-weekly CP parkrun email from Andrea. It contains news and key updates. It’s also the main source of information about upcoming volunteer crews. If you don’t already receive the CP email, please sign up for College Park messages via your parkrun.com profile. We do not spam you; we don’t even have access to your email address; and parkrun does not sell its email lists.
Looking good, Lorelis and Angel
The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is surging. CDC recommendations are changing. There are alarming reports about the potential for vaccinated individuals to spread the virus. Down the street in Washington DC, some restrictions have returned, notably a requirement for indoor mask wearing. Back in May as we were preparing to resume live events, there was more optimism around than there is right now.
So what does this all mean for safety at our event?
The short answer is that we think it’s still a rather safe outdoor dispersion event, rather than a risky indoor gathering. But we are closely watching developments.
As always, the risk of infection at CP parkrun comes down to: (i) the risk of an infected person showing up at the event, and (ii) the risk of you rebreathing enough of that person’s exhaled air to get infected.
The risk of an infected person showing up at our event is higher than a couple of months ago.
Currently, around 1 in 12,000 people test positive each day in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties (pop. ~2 million). That figure was closer to 1 in 80,000 in June. Even though vaccinated people can get infected and may be able to transmit, the weight of evidence points to infection still being much less likely after full vaccination. To our knowledge, it is still the case that vaccination rates in our area are above the national average, and vaccination rates in the CP parkrun community are extremely high.
There are local effects that could be very relevant that we cannot quantify at present. UMD’s vaccine mandate went into effect this week. Compliance is high. UMD has reported almost no COVID cases in recent weeks. But it will be a few weeks before the semester ramps up and testing figures increase sharply..
Our current estimate is that infected people would show up at CP parkrun at a rate of 1-2 people per year. So we are fairly confident that most weekends when we meet up in the park there are zero infectious people in the park. (This estimate could change, of course.)
We're delighted that Louise is able to join us in person again. (And glad to hear that her shoulder is improving. She tells us that it's from a baking injury. Go figure!)
But if it is one of those rare occasions when an infectious person is present, what is the risk that they will infect you? This mostly depends on whether you rebreathe enough of their air to get a high viral load and that you are unlucky enough to be one of those still rare cases of a breakthrough infection.
It is becoming likely that the Delta variant is more contagious because of the higher viral loads relative to earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants. So we presume that infections are possible with lower amounts of rebreathed air. That said, unless you are downwind and close to an infectious person for a substantial amount of time, i.e., minutes, the risk of transmission should still be rather low. The way that people tend to move at our events means that we often pass close to a number of people, but there are very few people who we are close to for a long time. In fact, those are usually family members or good friends, who we are likely spending time with anyway.
By far the greater risk is associated with indoor gathering. For this reason, we continue to encourage folks to meet outdoors for post-parkrun coffee and brunch. There is outdoor seating at The Board and Brew. And we have enjoyed gathering at the pocket park behind The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee. This week while processing parkrun results in that park we were joined by a Great Blue Heron (safely socially distanced, of course).
Bud Verge processing results at our outdoor meetup spot by the Paint Branch Stream
Also, we certainly welcome anybody who is more comfortable participating in a mask right now. Some people have taken to carrying a mask that they use at the start and finish, but not once the field has dispersed along the trail.
We wish that we no longer needed to even think about these things, but we do. And we will update if the risks change substantially.
Until next time!
Look what Lucy and Laurie got in the mail this week. Nice!
See you next week!