Fifth time’s a charm (Run Report #174)

We love seeing our healthy community continue to grow, with more people walking and running, more people trying volunteering, and more bringing along friends and family. This week temperatures were around 30 degrees lower than last week, and there was snow in the forecast, though it did not materialize in College Park. But still there were over 100 people enjoying the trail together for CP parkrun #174.

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If you’re looking to make CP parkrun a regular part of your week, we suggest two things that help.

First, try to join us at least 5 times. If you can get to that point, then there’s a 90% chance that you’ll be back for more.

Second, try out any of a few things that are really good for getting to meet others in our CP parkrun community: try your hand at volunteering, join us for coffee and brunch at The Board and Brew, or just introduce yourself to somebody that you see at the park.

We saw plenty of all of these at this week’s event.

There are now 6 new 5-timers at CP parkrun, taking the total count to almost 700.

Laura Beckert joined us for the fifth time, and this week she brought along first-timer Erv (welcome!).

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Chris Roth did his fifth run with us - he has also volunteered a number of times already - and this week he brought along his roommate Paolo as a first timer (welcome!).

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Jeremy Rueter did his fifth run with us, and this week he brought along his son Luke for the first time (welcome!).

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Do you notice a pattern here?

Jen Matis was another of this week’s fifth timers. So did she bring a first-timer, too? Well, walking with Cameron doesn’t count, as it was Cameron’s 42nd time with us. But they did bring along a first-timer. Barkrunner Ranger walked further than he had ever walked before, and he had a great time. Cameron and Jen had been planning to volunteer, but we had a full crew already, so they chose to take a walk instead.

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We hear that Ranger slept all afternoon after his long walk. Nice job, little guy!

Maggie Gill and JA Hinds (PB!) were this week’s two other new 5-timers. In Maggie’s case it is her first visit in a couple of years, so we were super happy to see her back with us, zipping around as first female finisher this week.

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Meanwhile, John Larsen joined Jim Parsons’ veteran crew of volunteers, and discovered what many before him have discovered, that being part of the volunteer crew is fun, and a great way to become more connected to the CP parkrun community. Thanks John!

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It sounds kind of backwards, but we suspect that one of the best things that you can do for your running or walking experience at CP parkrun is to do a spot of volunteering.

The rest of this week’s volunteer crew was a seasoned bunch. The finish line crew supporting RD Jim were Trace Huard, Joel Goldberg, Mike McClellan, Lori Dominick, Andrea Zukowski, and Zoe Phillips. The on the course crew was Külli Crespin and Teresa Perdomo (tailwalkers, cheerleaders, photographers), and Lisa Wilson and Hump Plotts. And Colin Phillips was managing propaganda from someplace far away.

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Four cheers

A few milestones and other notables to celebrate this week:

Frank Snyder wore the red sash for his 50th parkrun. For the record, Frank is in amazing shape for a 76-year old. Frank had, in fact, already completed around 49.99 parkruns before this week. At a late summer event he stumbled and fell shortly before the finish. Thanks to helpful parkrunners and fast-arriving EMS he was soon patched up and able to walk away, but he did not take a finish token that day. So we have been especially happy to see Frank back in strong running form.

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We also saw the return of the parkrunner of the Month award, which was presented to Teresa Perdomo. This award is given roughly monthly (when we remember) to individuals who embody the spirit of what CP parkrun is all about. Teresa is a regular runner and volunteer, and she has introduced many others to this community. Thanks, Teresa!

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A shout out is due for Hump Plotts, who volunteered at his eponymous crossing this week for the 150th time. Wow. As regulars know, CP parkrun wouldn’t be the same without Hump. And we are thrilled that he is now healthy and able to still join us on a Saturday.

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Finally, in finishing in 52nd position, first-timer William Aquino had the distinction of becoming the 18,000th finisher at CP parkrun. Welcome William! (And also his brother (?) Bryan, also a first-timer this week.)

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Welcome!

On a chilly day we expect to see a higher proportion of super regular parkrunners on the trail. This week there were 38 50-clubbers who completed the 5K (and another 5 who volunteered). But we were also pleasantly surprised to see a strong turnout from newer participants. 31 finishers this week had joined us 4 times or less before.

Germaine Donnelly was back for a second time (yay!), and she both set a PB, and brought along her husband John as a first-timer. Double win!

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Also, Alyssa Heintzelman came to parkrun with a parent. That’s not so unusual, as she’s routinely there with her dad Dave, when she’s not away at College. But this week it was her mom Joanne, who was joining us for the second time (yay!). And Joanne’s 55-minute walk earned her a ring of the PB bell. Nice!

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Shayla Chelliah was with us for the 3rd time this week, but this time she brought along her dad Santosh and her brother Sanyaj for the first time. Welcome!

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CP parkrunners on tour

There’s no place like home, but we love hearing about your travels to other parkrun communities, in the US or abroad. This week was a week of weather contrasts.

Kathy Gustafson was in Florida, where she joined Clermont Waterfront parkrun on what looks like a beautiful 68-degree morning, where she was one of 177 finishers.

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Slightly different weather and crowds welcomed Stewart Mayhew and Colin Phillips, who were on tour in the Midwest. Stewart was one of 9 finishers in the snow at Heritage Harbor parkrun in Ottawa, IL. Stewart was sporting his shiny new red 50 shirt, which goes rather nicely with HH’s apricot colored tourist sash (nice idea!). The one person ahead of Stewart at HH parkrun was the remarkable Juan Leg -- if you haven’t read his story, we highly recommend it.

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Meanwhile, a little further north Colin Phillips was visiting Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun in Madison, WI, where he was one of just 6 finishers on a rather snowy morning. HTLP parkrun has much in common with College Park parkrun. Out-and-back route next to a Big 10 campus. It launched only at the end of this past summer, so it’s just starting to develop a local following. But it is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. They start right next to the UWM student union, overlooking Lake Mendota. And for the winter months they hold the pre-parkrun briefing indoors, inside Der Rathskeller, a college pub that is styled after a big German beer hall. And the winter finish line is right by the door to Der Rathskeller, so that parkrunners and volunteers don’t need to spend too much time waiting outside when the winds come in across the lake. The distance from the finish line to your post-parkrun coffee spot is barely 20 feet. Highly recommended. And on a small, snowy day, almost the entire crew of parkrunners and volunteers stayed around for coffee.

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Finally, we cannot leave without noting that we found a number of parkrunners doing a little dance at the turnaround or at the finish at CP parkrun this week. High fives to Saul Goldberg and Kent York. But it’s hard to compete with 3-year old Mary Claire, who recognized that reaching Lisa at the turnaround is, quite literally, the high point of any CP parkrun.

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See you next week!

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Tamesha and Jay

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Sheilah's happy to be back

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Welcome first-timers Henry and ShannonCP-parkrun-174-34_web

Mike zoomed around in 16:48. Speedy!

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Sophie always wants to led her pack

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It's great to meet new friends at CP parkrun

 

Coming back for more (Run Report #173)

Were you one of our twenty-six “first timers” this week?  This special parkrun report is dedicated to you, our first timers. (Though the 2500+ community members who have previously done CP parkrun will find some news in here, too.)

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We’re happy you found us!  Welcome, welcome, welcome to the phenomenal community that is so much more than a free, weekly, timed 5K. Welcome to College Park parkrun!

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This Saturday perhaps you got a brief glimpse of why so many of us keep coming back, week after week. If history is any guide, many of you, like many of us, will be back for more. So here’s a little guide to help you feel at home at College Park parkrun.

If you showed up for the first-timer’s briefing, you already met Andrea.

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It was Andrea who first had the idea to bring parkrun to College Park, and it is thanks in no small part to her that we have an event here at all (not to diminish the hard work and dedication of many others!)  She is one of our two event directors, our volunteer coordinator every week, the heart of our community, and an all-around wonderful person.

(Our other event director Colin isn’t such a bad guy either)

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In fact, it was 4 years ago this weekend that Andrea and Colin went downtown to check out the inaugural Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, on the C&O Canal towpath. And the very next Saturday they started weekly meetups on the Paint Branch Trail in College Park, with coffee afterwards at The Board and Brew, that has continued pretty much every week since. This weekend over 700 parkrunners and parkwalkers took to the trail around the DMV region in the 7 different parkrun events. And we hope there will be more parkruns in the area soon. This week we were joined by Mark Allen and CP parkrun regular John Maneval, who are looking to start a new event on the B&A Trail in Glen Burnie, close to BWI airport. Drop us a line if you’re interested in being in the loop.

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When you start coming back week after week, you will be surprised how quickly the numbers add up. Before you know it, you will be doing your fifth parkrun, your tenth parkrun, your twenty-fifth, your fiftieth…  It’s starting to seem nearly every week someone is reaching a new milestone. This week we had two—Yancira Amaya became the 19th College Park parkrunner to finish 100 times, and Matt Kaplan became the 88th CP parkrunner to complete 50. And guess what? Andrea made cakes to celebrate!

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Andrea makes a wicked good cake!  But it’s not just cake that keeps us coming back for more.  There are so many reasons it’s hard to count them all. Let me give you just a few more…

You are welcome to bring a dog (on a leash), or push a stroller…

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CP parkrun can be a great family activity, and a terrific way to introduce family members to healthy outdoor activity. Children can get their own barcode at the age of 4. How wonderful it is to see youngsters who once rode in strollers get out and start to go under their own steam. This week was parkrun number 117 for Eddie and number 2 for Nico.

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And it was number 1 for both June and Leo. Both mom and dad took longer than (almost) ever before. But they could not have been prouder.

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It can be a great satisfaction to get a personal best (“PB”) time—if that’s something you’re seeking. This week, a host of returning parkrunners achieved a new PB. This is an especially noteworthy accomplishment if you are completing your 56th parkrun (congrats John Scott!), your 61st parkrun (congrats Jackie Hayes!) or your 73rd parkrun (congratulations Aileen Kroll!).

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However, it’s not all about going fast. Although parkrun has “run” in its name, don’t let that fool you—parkrun is for everyone!

Some start way up front and take off like the wind…

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This week Jerome, a ‘parkrun tourist’ visiting from Singapore led the field for most of the way, but was eventually caught by Sam Phipps. As he normally does, Sam then hung around the finish to cheer in every other finisher.

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Others prefer to start in the middle of the pack and may run or run/walk.  They get to enjoy the trail for a bit longer than speedsters like Sam…

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And CP parkrun always has a fabulous contingent of walkers…

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Every week one special volunteer gets to be the tailwalker. The tailwalker’s job is to finish last, and make sure everyone has finished safely. Sometimes the tailwalker doubles as a photographer as well. And sometimes the tailwalker has an entire posse. A big Thank You to this week’s tailwalker Christina McNamee-Mahafee.

Christina first joined us last Spring. At the time it maybe took a little courage to come along. People often wonder whether they will fit in, or whether they will be “too slow” (the answer is always “no”). We’re thrilled that Christina is now one of the people who is helping others to feel that they fit in.

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Now I’m letting you in on one of our best-kept secrets—another thing that keeps us coming back for more. Volunteering at parkrun is even more fun and rewarding than running or walking. Michelle and Joel were our volunteer timers this week.

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And there are other ways (besides tailwalking) to parkrun and volunteer in the same week. Katie and Tomas flew through the course then stepped in to help Lori with scanning.

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What’s the best way to know about volunteering at CP parkrun? Update your parkrun profile (see the link in your parkrun results email) to sign up to the CP parkrun email list. You’ll receive Andrea’s once weekly news and volunteering message, a dose of positivity in the middle of your week. And you will not be spammed.

Another great thing that keeps us coming back—running or walking in a group can just make you feel happy.  Especially when you see old friends (or new friends) smiling, giving words of encouragement on the trail, or cheering as you finish.  One great thing about our “out and back” course is you get to see everyone at least once.

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Finally, one of the highlights of the week is getting to know each other better afterwards over coffee or breakfast at The Board and Brew. It’s a few minutes walk down the trail, or a short drive down Baltimore Ave.

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Just one last note—we have been asked by the Park Police to not park in the grass on the side of Metzerott Road. We don’t want to see anybody’s free, friendly parkrun experience ruined by a parking ticket.

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As we grow bigger, parking will become increasingly scarce at Acredale Park. This week's 179 finishers is on the high side, but it won't be too long before 200/week is relatively normal. We love that! We just have to accommodate a little. Please allow enough time and be aware that there is ample free parking in a couple of nearby locations. UMD Lot 11b backs onto the trail, and is super convenient for the post parkrun coffee. And there’s also lots of parking at the bowling alley across Baltimore Avenue. And if you’re local enough that you can ride your bike to parkrun, so much the better!

If you want to see more pictures from this week or any other week's CP parkrun, you can find them in our photo albums in Flickr.

So long for now, first timers. We wish you the best and hope you will come back for more. We’re here every week.

Stewart Mayhew, Run Director

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You can’t eat only one (Run Reports #171-#172)

#171: January 1st 2020

We couldn’t think of a better way to start out 2020. We had an amazing New Year’s morning, taking in two parkruns, and welcoming a record-sized crowd to the Paint Branch Trail for the first CP parkrun of the year.

We welcomed nearly 300 people to the Paint Branch Trail on a chilly 1st of January. 285 of them finished CP parkrun. We have never seen such a big, bustling crowd at Acredale Park. Last year on New Year’s Day we were unprepared for the crowd, and we showed up with too few finisher tokens. This year we came prepared!

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A few things were unusual about the crowd in the park, compared to other weeks.

First, we had a LOT of visitors from other events. Normally when we ask before the start of the event either zero or one person raises their hand. This time there were too many to count. We had visitors from Kensington parkrun, Leakin Park parkrun, Roosevelt Island parkrun, Anacostia parkrun, Fletcher’s Cove parkrun, and even Deep Run parkrun in Richmond, VA. That’s all of the other parkrun communities in our region. But we also had visiting dignitaries from Mansfield, OH parkrun (Karen and Steve Crane), and Lille parkrun, Ann Arbor (Emma Keer and Adam Hockley). And from parkruns in Canberra, Australia (Claire Stutchbury and Jack Corkill).

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Second, many people were already on their second 5K of 2020. 44 did the Kensington - College Park double, and 20 the Leakin Park - College Park double. And that’s only counting those who are listed as finishers in two events.

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Pride of place goes to Pam Marcus, who completed the somewhat unique double of being the run director (i.e., boss for the day) at both Kensington parkrun and College Park parkrun. With 394 finishers between the two events, nobody has ever herded so many parkrunners in a single day in N America. Nobody is better prepared to do this than Pam, as she was a key member of the CP team before striking out 2 years ago to create a lovely event in her own neighborhood.

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Clare Imholtz also deserves a special mention: she ran the 5k at Kensington parkrun, then volunteered at College Park, joining Janice Bernache as timekeeper. And Andrea Zukowski volunteered at both events. She had really been looking forward to completing Kensington parkrun for the first time, but broke a toe the previous day, so she took photos instead. Then she headed over to CP to support the event as a photographer and in the role of just being Andrea.

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Another special volunteer shout out for Lisa Wilson and Hump Plotts, who came over to Kensington for the first parkrun of the day before taking on their normal course marshal roles at College Park. Those two got to see the start of a parkrun for the first time in a LONG while, as they’re normally out on the course when things get underway.

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We had a LOT of milestones to celebrate on New Year’s day. We celebrated five, and a sixth slipped under our radar.

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Bonnie McClellan became the oldest female 50-timer in the US. She has completed 50 5Ks with us, a few weeks shy of her 80th birthday. And seemingly smiling all the way. How fitting that her barcode was scanned by husband Mike, who has also completed more than 50 CP parkruns.

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Jim Parsons completed his 100th parkrun. Jim has been a part of the CP parkrun team since the early days, and has been a real stalwart of the event.

Stewart Mayhew first joined us only a little over a year ago, but he quickly became one of the key team members. And in fact he has become one of the key figures in the DC parkrun community, regularly running and/or volunteering at many of the DC-area events. And all this would have seemed quite improbable to Stewart just 18 months ago, before he started his fitness journey.

Cory Kind completed her 49th and 50th parkrun on New Years morning. Cory’s home parkrun is Roosevelt Island parkrun, but she has visited CP a few times, and earlier this fall she even ran from Virginia to CP parkrun. Wow. She wasn’t entirely deserting her RI friends, as RI parkrun co-Event Director Joyce Adams was on hand to congratulate her.

Mark Lutterman did his 50th and 51st parkrun on NYD. Mark is part of the core team at Eagan parkrun in Minnesota, but he has roots in the DC area and was in town for the holidays. There was no time to highlight his accomplishment before Kensington parkrun, as Pam wanted to get things moving promptly, so we celebrated Mark at CP instead.

And finally, Ashley Ward did her 49th and 50th parkrun on NYD. This is the one that slipped under our radar. So we’ll have a red sash for Ashley the next time that she joins us.

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We are always very happy to welcome walkers and walk-runners to CP parkrun. The word ‘run’ is in our name, but if you’re getting around at whatever pace suits you, then that’s cool with us. So we were super happy to see many walkers, and stroller-pushers to start the year. There were 98 finishers in over 40 minutes, almost certainly a record for CP parkrun. We LOVE that!

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One first-time parkwalker was Fran Atkinson, who finished her first 5K with us. As did her daughter Jordyn. Congratulations, and welcome, to both! They were among 67 named first timers who joined us to start the year. That included 44 who were completing their first ever parkrun. So glad that you could join us, and we hope to see you again!

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We had a big crew afterwards for brunch at The Board and Brew. We’re so fortunate that there’s a large, tasty, and friendly place where we can gather every week, even when there’s a really big crowd. The finisher token sorting task was a little more demanding than usual. Thanks, Valerie and Janice! And we got to do side-by-side results processing for College Park and Kensington.

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And so 2020 begins. If this were an annual event, we’d be done and starting the LONG countdown until we get to do this again. But at CP parkrun we don’t need that patience. In 2020 we’ll get to do it again *54* times. It’s a leap year!

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#172: January 4th 2020

… And in fact we had so little time before the next parkrun that the double report turned into a triple report!

We were greeted by a damp, grey morning, and 126 parkrunners and parkwalkers chose to brighten up the trail with their smiles (and colorful rain gear). Did anything notable happen? Well, of course!

Keri Pierce and Derek Symer both completed their 50th parkruns, and so got to wear the red sash. Then Derek went and set a PB!

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If you have ever felt like you’re never going to match your PB again, Clark Ridge can probably sympathize. As often as not Clark is zipping around at the front of the field, but it was a long while since his last PB. In fact, he set it in his 15th time at CP parkrun, in January 2017. It took until this week, his 126th time at CP parkrun, 3 years later, to beat that time, with a super speedy 17:10. Nice going, Clark! But as Clark also knows, there are so many other ways to enjoy CP parkrun. In the intervening 3 years he has earned a 100 shirt. He has made parkrun a family affair, with his daughter and son reaching 50 and 10 parkrun milestones. This has also helped him to often run slower -- his average finishing time is nearly 10 minutes slower than his PB. He has volunteered a lot, too. He has often been Run Director, and one time he helped to shovel snow from the trail so that the event could go ahead. And he has met so many people in our community. PBs are nice when they come, but there’s so much more to enjoy.

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Clark was helped to a PB by Michael Laskowski, who also set a PB, a few seconds ahead of Clark. Michael was with us for just the 7th time, but he is now part of a select group who have taken part in CP parkrun in all of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. He has joined us only once per year, except in 2017 when he came along 3 times. So maybe this is it for 2020, or maybe we’ll see Michael again this year. Always welcome, of course.

Even on such a grey day we were happy that a number of first-timers joined us. These included Kris, Susan, and Lilian, who seemed to enjoy checking out the course together, together with 10 other first-timers.

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One other thing that happened. You may have noticed that your time was off in your results email this week. In some cases by rather a lot. Some were a little faster or slower, a few were a lot faster than in reality. Thanks to everybody who reached out to us to alert us to their own anomalous result. Thanks to the pictures we had from the turnaround and the finish we were able to piece together what happened and set everything straight. Those pictures that you often see somebody taking on a phone at the finish line sometimes make it into our photo album for the week. But they very often save us by making it possible to reconstruct who actually finished when.

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The event was ably led by Run Director for the day Chris McGranahan. This was Chris’s 13th time at the helm, and it also makes him the only person to have led CP parkrun in each year from 2016-2020.

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Chris was ably assisted by a crack team of volunteers; Misha Bernard, Steven Borunda, Lori Dominick, Carlos Gough, Diana Gough, Tomas Marambio, Eddie Matus, Nina McGranahan, Hump Plotts, and Lisa Wilson.

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Andrea and I were both doing our regular volunteer coordination and parkrun propaganda from afar this week, as we were on the road, but we still managed to sneak in a little parkrunning. Both at events that we’d recommend anybody to visit if they get a chance.

Andrea was in Michigan, and she was part of the tailwalking crew at Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor. This gem of an event has a vibrant community and a lovely course that includes 3 times across a boardwalk across a pond. If you go there in winter when they’re on their backup winter course it’s a different kind of fun, as they have a 6 lapper, which can become a bit like the marriage of parkrun with short-track speed skating. Their coffee shop is right across the street, so they always draw a big crowd.

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Meanwhile, I was on the Gulf coast. I was in New Orleans for work, but I really wanted to meet some folks in Pensacola, FL who I had been in regular contact with over the past year as they developed their new parkrun community. That was 200 miles away, and parkrun events in Florida start at 7:30am. So I took an early night and set out at 3:30am to drive through Mississippi and Alabama to get to Rec Plex North parkrun in time. It was well worth the slightly nutty journey. It was great to meet the team in person. They are doing wonderful things in bringing folks together from different parts of the Pensacola community.

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And their course is a wonder to behold. It is a lovely trail course that winds through the woods of the Baars-Firestone Wildlife Sanctuary, on the University of West Florida campus. Soft trails, and some real hills. But what is really impressive is that the parkrun team pretty much cleared the forest trail themselves. It had become overgrown and mostly impassable from years of neglect. But a group of parkrun volunteers cleared the trail, and now work regularly to continue to make improvements to the trail, which is now wide enough for 2-3 people to run abreast. The trail isn’t only serving RPN parkrun. It’s also getting use by local school cross-country teams, and it will become the cross-country course of the UWF varsity team. Very impressive community project! … And one benefit of the early start was that there was time for coffee AND to make it back to New Orleans by lunchtime.

Traveling to visit friends in other places is nice, but we’re looking forward to being back at CP parkrun this week. Not least because of a couple of notable happenings.

First, we’ll be celebrating Yancira Amaya’s 100th parkrun. This week Yancira could be found sprinting to the finish with (back from injury) Xinzi He.

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Second, if you have any interest in a parkrun in Ann Arundel County, Mark Allen and John Maneval will be there to talk about plans. Mark has been working for some time on trying to start a parkrun event on the B&A Trail in Glen Burnie, and we would love to see it take flight.

And third, if the rain holds off we’ll be debuting a New Years gift from our sister parkrun, Kensington parkrun. What could it be? Join us on Saturday to find out.

See you soon, and Happy New Year!

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

Bonus New Years pictures

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Bonus January 4th Pictures

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2019 in Review (Run Report #170)

College Park parkrun #170 was our final event of 2019. So we’re going with a bit of a different report for this week. We have a summary of some highlights from the year, in numbers and in stories. Then some reflections on how the community is developing. And finally some brief highlights from the December 28th, 2019 event. This is a long one, but worth it.

And if you prefer pictures to words, you can just go direct to our photo albums page.

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2019 in Numbers

54 events organized. That’s 52 Saturdays plus New Years and Thanksgiving. With zero cancellations. This was the first year that we never needed to cancel.

7,074 finishers. That’s 24% more than in 2018. There were 100+ community members walking, running, or volunteering on the trail almost every single week, in all weathers.

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The two smallest weeks, in February (snow) and December (rain) still saw around 70 finishers. And there is extra fun on those quieter days when we are running or walking through snow or puddles with friends.

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The two non-Saturday events both saw record attendances. On New Years Day we were unprepared for the 243 finishers, as we brought along too few finish tokens. So we quickly sorted the first set of finisher tokens for ‘recycling’. On Thanksgiving we were ready for the 249 finishers. And we will definitely be ready for a sizable crowd on NYD 2020. For more on the NYD event, see our New Years Day 2020 blog post.

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173 different community members volunteered a total of 824 times to put on the 54 free events. It’s obvious that the success of the event depends on there being enough people to cover the various roles each week. But it’s just as valuable that so many different people volunteer. Both the sheer number of people, and the diversity. We really like that the person who is leading the event in any given week could be somebody who zips around in 17 minutes, or somebody who is normally finishes in 50+ minutes.

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We celebrated a lot of milestones in 2019, and so more and more people could be seen on the trail each week wearing a free, white (10), red (50), black (100), or purple (25 volunteerings) shirt.

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For our 3rd birthday, in mid October, we decorated cakes with a flag for everybody who had earned a free shirt so far. We surprised ourselves at how many there were, and how many cakes we filled. At that time we needed 141 flags. And by our estimate another 18 milestones have been reached since then.

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As of the end of 2019, 11 people have completed CP parkrun 100+ times, there are 67 50-timers, 158 25-timers, 383 10-timers, and 668 5-timers. At least 2,600 different people have taken part at some time or another since we started in late 2016, completing 17,358 5Ks at a total cost of $0.

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A couple of notable milestones were reached 2019:

In November Xander and Tara Mease completed their 100th runs. For Xander this came just a couple of weeks after reaching the ripe old age of 7.

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In July Mike McClellan wore the red 50 sash. He came within a couple of weeks of being the first octogenarian in the US to join the 50 club. He then took some time off for surgery, but was back to the trail, as a walker by later in the year, and often volunteered when he was unable to run. Now, at the end of the year, Bonnie McClellan is about to join Mike as a 50-timer, just a few weeks shy of turning 80 herself. These two are so inspiring!

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Also in November, Duane Rosenberg became the first elected official in the country to earn a black 100 parkrun shirt. Duane is mayor of New Carrollton. Not too far behind him is College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn. We are so fortunate to have these local leaders supporting our healthy community.

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Former mayor Andy Fellows, mayor Patrick Wojahn, and mayor Duane Rosenberg

Another distinction for Duane: he is the one person who completed ALL 54 CP parkruns in 2019. That’s impressive!

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Lisa Wilson completed 53 CP parkruns, and she also volunteered 53 times in 2019. Since she always finishes with the tailwalker, we are fairly confident that Lisa spent more time doing a parkrun than anybody else on the continent in 2019.

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John Ramsey also completed 51 parkruns in 2019, including 3 as a tourist. He was injured for a while, so he also joined us a couple of times as a volunteer when he was unable to run.

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The fourth member of our community to complete 50 parkruns in 2019 was Gus Campbell, who calls both College Park and Leakin Park parkruns home. In 2019 he finished 24 times at College Park, 22 at Leakin Park, and 4 more at other DMV events. And on two more weekends he was a volunteer. Frank Filteau also joined us 50 times: 49 as a runner, and one as a volunteer.

2019 in Stories

The numbers are impressive, but the stories are even more compelling. Here are just a few of our favorites from 2019.

We started January with our now traditional New Years Double parkrun, welcoming an amazing 243 finishers to the trail, with 43 having started the day either at Kensington parkrun or Leakin Park parkrun. 1/1/19 also marked the debut of our new “patronus board” featuring a terrapin, of course. It has graced many milestones throughout 2019.

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Paul and Mary Wester on leg #1 of their New Year's Double at Kensington parkrun

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Leakin Park parkrunners at our New Year's parkrun 2019

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In January we barely recognized the crowd of parkrunners who gathered in non-running clothing at The Hotel at UMD to receive the Chair’s Award from the College Park Community Foundation. Later in the year we were also honored to be nominated for a statewide award. Although we didn’t win that one, the nomination was greatly appreciated.

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They scrub up well!

Also in January, we grew alarmed as the Paint Branch Trail was literally disappearing into the Paint Branch stream, due to erosion from the many storms of 2018. We are grateful to MNCPPC, and also to Lisa Wilson, for helping to ensure that we could keep going ahead while the trail was under repair, and for the fact that the repairs came so very quickly.

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In February, on the snowiest day of the year, we celebrated a special quadruple milestone. On the same day, members of the Ridge family earned a white 10 shirt (Calvin), a red 50 shirt (Violet), a purple V25 shirt (Clark), and a black 100 shirt (Clark). Big thanks are due to Lily Ridge for coordinating an amazing cake, and to Felix Ridge for helping to create this great scene of Clark pushing a stroller through the snow.

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Also in February we welcomed Rebecca White to our community. First time out, Rebecca was able to walk a mile before turning back. Next time out she made it the whole way. She has finished or volunteered over 30 times by now. We admire Rebecca for having the courage to come join a group that has “run” in the title. And we are also proud of the many community members who have reinforced the message that EVERYBODY counts at CP parkrun, whatever their speed or fitness level. In fact, Rebecca was the one person in 3 years who led Hump to leave his marshal spot to walk the trail, as a show of support.

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One more thing in February: I had an unexpected opportunity to give a talk about the “special sauce” behind CP parkrun at the Active Living Research Conference in Charleston, SC, thanks to support from Brit Saksvig of UMD’s School of Public Health. It was so interesting to spend a couple of days mixing with people who spend their lives thinking about how to get people more active. We can learn from them, and they can also learn from our success story. One thing that was clear from this experience: CP parkrun is a successful community health initiative, and there is much interest in learning from what we all continue to do as a community.

In March we were moved by the story of one of the slowest finishers of the year. It was apparent to the tailwalker that this young woman was working hard to get around the course, but it was not clear why. The reason became clear when, shortly before Hump’s Crossing on the return, she sat down and removed both of her legs. This was somebody who had lost both legs and had recently received prosthetic limbs, and was determined to show that she could complete a 5K. It was humbling and inspiring.

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In April we teamed up with UMD and Prince George’s Parks again for Good Neighbor Day, planting trees and cleaning up the trail. Between the cleanup and the various trail renovations, we are confident that we finish 2019 with a trail that is in better shape than at the start of the year.

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In May -- well, we’re not really sure when it happened -- we got a nice upgrade to our start/finish area. One day, Joel Goldberg showed up with some tools and started digging in the dirt. He had seen us struggling to set up our flag when the ground was hard. So he designed and installed a permanent flag holder for us. Normally invisible, but perfectly positioned to mark the start/finish line. Thanks, Joel!

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Also in May we welcomed one of our favorite parkrun costumes of the year. On May 4th (“May the fourth be with you!”) Fiona Sisan completed by far her longest ever run, dressed as Rey, a young Jedi. We almost melted.

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In June we bid farewell to Nick Huang, part of the founding team of CP parkrun. Nick’s last parkrun as a local came the day after he defended his PhD at UMD, and just a few days before his wedding. So he had a lot going on. We were very happy when Nick joined us again, together with his wife Jessica and her family for our Thanksgiving event, wearing the College Park parkrun apricot shirt that we gave him as a going away gift.

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Also in June we teamed up with many different local groups as part of the first Trolley Trail Day, a day long celebration of local community connections. Some members of our community coordinated a Trolley Trail Run, that started at Acredale Park right after CP parkrun, and followed trails to end 6K later next to Franklins Brewery in Hyattsville. We enjoyed a nice alternative spot for results processing and "coffee" that day!

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In July we came very close to canceling on 7/20, due to an extreme heatwave that covered the eastern US. We were able to go ahead thanks to some excellent brainstorming among DMV area parkrun teams, which allowed us to implement various measures to ensure safety. Foremost among these was the temporary abolition of PBs. Instead, we encouraged everybody to try for a Personal Worst (PW) time, and a lot of people were successful.

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Clark Ridge got to ring the Personal Worst bell on July 20th

Also in July we put a red 50 sash on Ken Leonard AND on the original CP barkrunner, Scout. They reached this milestone one week before Ken left for a year working in Ghana. Scout is still in College Park, but missing her running buddy. We look forward to welcoming them both back to CP parkrun sometime later in 2020.

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In August we welcomed a delegation of Scouts. The UMD campus was temporarily overrun with thousands of scouts from the UK Delegation to the World Scouting Jamboree, and some of them couldn’t resist squeezing in an extra parkrun while in the DC area. And yes, of course they were punctual, and of course they helped us to set things up at the park.

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At the end of August we saw our largest ‘regular’ Saturday parkrun of the year, on a day when we welcomed two sets of guests. First, the boys of DeMatha HS cross-country team. Second, the first responders of College Park VFD, who gave quick tutorials on CPR basics.

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In September I got to be a proud son for a day as Kath Phillips, my mom, completed her first ever 5K with us, at age 76 and with the help of two new knees. As the most regular reader of our run reports (trust me - if there are typos, I hear about it!), she knew that it would be a welcoming setting for a walker. And she was right, of course! (… And she was not going to be outdone by my mother-in-law, Lois Zukowski, who a year ago had completed CP parkrun on her 84th birthday.)

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Also in September we again had the busiest Saturday of the year at Acredale Park, thanks to the annual Muggle Quidditch Tournament. Although UMD may not be especially distinguished in football, it turns out that the Quidditch team is formidable.

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In October we made an operational change that might be invisible to most, but that has made the volunteering experience easier. We have ditched the scanners and stopwatches that we used at CP parkrun for the first 3 years, and now we rely exclusively on smartphone based apps. It helps a lot.

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Also in October we had an especially busy morning at The Board and Brew as we hosted the second meeting of the parkrun USA Ambassadors team, for a weekend spent planning the future of parkrun in the United States. The growth of CP parkrun since early 2016 has gone hand in hand with the growth of parkrun communities across the country. The number of finishers and volunteers across the country grew from 8,400 in 2015 to 105,300 in 2019. That’s about 90% growth every year. Andrea and I are very happy to have played key roles in this growth. Many other communities have been curious to know what has worked so well in College Park. But we’re equally happy to be focusing our attention on the College Park community in 2020, stepping back from our roles in nationwide development.

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In October, one week after celebrating our third birthday, we had one day with SIX milestones to celebrate. We were super happy when Steve and Cindy Feld told us that they would be joining us that day. They were regular runners and core team members at College Park before retiring to North Carolina at the start of 2019. Steve wanted to do his 100th parkrun in College Park, the place where he had done his first, on Christmas Eve 2016. Then it came as a bonus when we learned that Cindy would be reaching the 25-time volunteer milestone on the same day.

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One more thing in October, we were happy to see a great feature in The Diamondback (UMD student newspaper) about CP parkrun. It captures a lot of what we enjoy about this community.

It's like a family: How College Park's weekly 5K has brought the community together

In November we saw our busiest month ever, with *six* events in total, including our super-sized Thanksgiving event. For one day only, CP parkrun was the largest parkrun event in the whole world. We even had visitors join us from Sydney, Australia and London, UK for the fun. And with The Board and Brew closed, we enjoyed a coffee and a bagel down the street at Bagels ‘n Grinds.

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In November a big day for Andrea and me was the day when Zoe Phillips reached the 10-parkrun milestone AND the 25-time volunteering milestone on the same day. For most of the past 4 years since we started Saturday morning meetups Zoe preferred to stay at home rather than join us at parkrun. Other issues involving mental health, gender identity, and neurology made sporting activities even less appealing. But in the early Fall Zoe started volunteering regularly. And then one day in October declared that he wanted to run. Seeing the welcoming CP parkrun community in action had made him feel quite at home. A crazy turn of events since that milestone day has made it hard for Zoe to even consider running. But even while dealing with constant physical challenges, Zoe has never considered missing his CP parkrun friends on a Saturday morning, and has become a valuable member of the start/finish crew.

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In December we were super happy to welcome Hump 2.0. Through much of the year Hump Plotts, our ever present golf course marshal, had been struggling with heart health issues. There were a number of weeks when it wasn’t clear that he would be able to volunteer, and we arranged for stunt doubles to support him in his regular spot. But after surgery at the start of the month he is refurbished and ready for action!

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Safety

One area that we take very seriously is safety. We love that we offer a free, friendly, low-key experience. But we do not want to cut corners on safety. We want to ensure that everybody who takes part in CP parkrun is as safe as possible, and can enjoy the warm, supportive community with no more than minimal risk. So what have we learned in 2019?

Every week we report to parkrun HQ on whether there were any “incidents” at CP parkrun. Most weeks there is nothing to report. But sometimes there are issues. By keeping track, we’re able to spot patterns. Roughly, we encounter health-related incidents once per 2,000 finishes. And more often than not they involve seniors. We are very happy that more and more seniors are taking part in our events. But we are mindful that this means that we all need to be on the lookout, to make sure that all parkrunners and parkwalkers are ok.

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Another key safety issue involves children. We ask that all under 11s stay with a designated adult, in the interest of safety. We are very happy to welcome a lot of under 11 parkrunners, and we are just as grateful to see that parents are so good at staying with their young charges. We know that many different sporting activities compete for families’ Saturday morning attention, and we are so pleased to see families getting active TOGETHER at CP parkrun.

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One other safety issue that we’ll need to keep an eye on is trail crowding. With typical turnouts of 130-150/week the trail has ample capacity. On days with ~250 it gets a bit more crowded, especially with two way traffic. We do not see an imminent risk of the Paint Branch Trail being overfull -- and we are immensely grateful to Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation for their support -- but we may need to be increasingly mindful of risks on busy days. This applies especially to exuberant dogs, and to pinch points along the course when there is snow or flooding. We had one unpleasant collision in two-way traffic in 2019. As we continue to grow we may need to be more proactive in managing the two-way traffic in the upper part of the trail, beyond the bridges. And we may need to take additional steps to direct participants to overflow parking.

Digging Deeper

Beyond the shiny numbers and stories, we are always interested in whether we’re succeeding in creating an inclusive, healthy community.

We don’t just want to provide a low-cost experience for seasoned runners. We want to help more people from more backgrounds to get active. And we want to help more people to be more connected to a wider range of people than they would otherwise.

The overall trends are encouraging. They show that if we make an effort we can make a difference.

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Speed

Walkers and walk-runners may be the group that we can benefit the most. We are glad that around 25% of finishers at CP parkrun every week complete the 5K in longer than 40:00 minutes, and that proportion is increasing.

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One simple generalization from our research. Walkers are more likely to return when there are more walkers. Surprise! Walking with company is fun. So, the best thing that you can do to make a difference: encourage walkers to come along. And then join them for a walk. Or head back out to meet them after your run. When runners join the walkers it really notices, and it is greatly appreciated!

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Gender

Did you know that more men than women come to College Park parkrun, pretty much EVERY SINGLE WEEK? We were surprised when we first learned this. It’s not like parkrun is a testosterone-fueled experience.

More women than men register for CP parkrun. But slightly more men show up. And more men come back more often. Why is this? Many different reasons, relating to family commitments, male obsessiveness, and historical trends (current septuagenarians who were runners in their youth are more likely to be male - Xander's great grandma Ellie is a notable exception to this). In any case, if you’re a man who can do something to help a woman in your life be active on a Saturday morning, we’re cheering for you all the way.

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Age, ethnicity, and background

We are happy that we see people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds at CP parkrun. We see lots of under 11s and more and more community members in their 70s and 80s. The fact that we are free helps to remove some barriers to taking part. And the regular runners, walkers, and volunteers is somewhat diverse. But we also know that our Saturday morning community could be more representative of the surrounding community, including the many twenty-somethings who live here, and we hope to continue efforts to that end in 2020.

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Welcoming new people

The growth in the community is strikingly regular. If we break out finishers into ‘novices’ (1-9 timers) and ‘regulars’ (10+ timers), there’s a clear contrast.

  • “Novices” (1-9 timers)
    2017: 2,820
    2018: 2,908
    2019: 2,890
  • “Regulars” (10+ timers)
    2017: 1,233
    2018: 2,800
    2019: 4,184

The number of finishes by “novices”  is almost identical from one year to the next. The influx of newcomers to the CP parkrun community is fairly constant. The same pattern seems to hold however you slice the data: registrations (about 1,000 per year), second-timers (about 400 more each year), and so on. We’re not sure why that is, but it’s true.

Meanwhile, the number of finishes by “regulars” is growing from one year to the next. That’s because a steady number of newcomers find that CP parkrun fits well with their Saturday schedules and so become regulars who keep coming back.

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This pattern has a couple of consequences for the community. Most people who come to CP parkrun are relative newcomers. Probably about three quarters of the individuals who took part in 2019 are in the “novice” group. But on any given Saturday, most people at the park are regulars. That’s because the regulars are, well, regulars. Duane Rosenberg, our most frequent finisher in 2019, was 1 of 1,354 (registered) individuals who took part this year. But with his 54 finishes he accounted for 1 in 131 finishes at CP parkrun.

In 2017 regulars were about 30% of the people on the trail in any week. By 2019 that number had risen to 60%.

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This means that it’s easier for newcomers to get lost in the crowd, and so we need to keep an eye out to help them to feel that they belong in the community. Cheering along the trail helps. As does striking up a conversation before the start or after the finish with somebody who you don’t yet know.

These trends also mean that it’s not so difficult to project how many people are likely to join us in 2020 and even in 2021. If the current trend continues, we'll be welcoming around 10,000 finishers in 2021. The park and the trail can handle the additional people, but we’ll likely need to tighten up a few things.

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And what about CP parkrun #170?

Oh right, we almost forgot! Thanks for asking. It was lovely, of course! A chilly morning quickly warmed up, and we welcomed around 130 finishers and volunteers to the park.

Russell Dickerson wore the black sash on his 100th parkrun. We are grateful to Russell for his support of our event, which goes well beyond what meets the eye.

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More than half of the first-timers this week came from Team Groeschel: that’s Merritt, Armin, Anders, Amelie, Benji, and Nate. Merritt is the president of Solutions for Hometown Connections, a local non-profit that supports refugees and immigrants in becoming more confident and connected in their new community. We’re looking forward to learning more about SHC’s work in the coming months. Welcome!

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One of our favorite stories of the day was characteristically one that we could not have predicted ahead of time. Guangxiao Hu set out for a quiet run on the Paint Branch Trail, and happened to reach Acredale Park shortly after we started. She asked what was going on, and of course found herself being charmed by Andrea. Before she knew it she was signed up and taking part in CP parkrun. Welcome, Guangxiao!

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It was also the last parkrun in a while for Steve Hendrix, a regular CP parkrunner who has joined us over 50 times. Steve recently took on the role of Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post, from where he’s already filing stories most days. Steve enjoyed his parkrun with friends Maria and Jim. We wish him well, and hope that he’ll join us whenever he’s in town.

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We are very grateful to the final volunteer crew of 2019: Andrea Zukowski, Lisa Wilson, Hump Plotts, Ellen Oberholtzer, Trace Huard, Michael Cohen, Frank Snyder, Zoe Phillips, Lori Dominick, Katie Hirsche, Valerie Silensky, Rebecca White, and Colin Phillips.

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And we are looking forward to seeing many of you on New Year’s Day to start of 2020 in (free, low-key) style.

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New Years Day 2020!

We are excited to host our 4th annual New Years Day parkrun, starting at 10:30am on Jan 1st, 2020. It's the same free, friendly, 5K run/walk as always, except that it's on a Wednesday, and it starts later than usual.

Read on for further information about additional attractions, parking, and more.NYD 2020 Flyer CP Square

 

To take part, simply show up with a printed copy of your FREE personal parkrun barcode. One-time registration takes just a couple of minutes, and then is your ticket to parkrun forever. When you sign up, please consider opting in to our once weekly email update about College Park parkrun news and volunteering. It's a dose of positivity in the middle of your week, and it's how we keep the event free, for everyone, forever.

Double Fun

If you're looking for an extra challenge, consider starting the day at Kensington parkrun or Leakin Park parkrun (Baltimore), both of which start at 8:30am. NYD is the one day of the year when you can record two parkruns, and so the start times are staggered to make this possible. Last year 43 people combined College Park with another parkrun to start the year, and we expect more to give it a try this year.

If you go to Kensington, we recommend to park in the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church lot. If you go to Leakin Park, parking at Winan's Meadow is limited, so we recommend to arrive in good time to secure a spot.

NYD 2020 Flyer Square

For your double you could choose to skip College Park entirely and head to Fletcher's Cove instead. They're also starting at 10:30am.

Walking

College Park parkrun is not only for runners. Parkwalkers are just as welcome, too. And NOBODY is too slow to fit in. We guarantee that you won't finish last, as we always provide the last finisher. That's the role of our tailwalker.

Whatever your pace, you will have company. And on our out-and-back course along the Paint Branch Trail, everybody gets to see everybody else in the course of the event, providing lots of opportunity to cheer one another.

Celebrations

We are looking forward to celebrating many things to start off the New Year.

  • Most of all, simply being together with a warm, supportive community in a beautiful natural setting. We are grateful to Prince George's Parks & Recreation for allowing us to use the trail for free every week.
  • We expect to celebrate a number of regular parkrunners who will be reaching the milestone of 50 or 100 parkruns completed. This may include Bonnie McClellan, who will be completing her 50th time just a few weeks before her 80th birthday. Seniors like Bonnie inspire us!
  • A few people will be celebrating a birthday on January 1st, so there may be cake.
  • We expect to welcome visitors from near and far, including parkrunners from around the region and from other states.
  • We always celebrate the volunteers that make our events happen every week. Hundreds of community members take turns putting on the event, and we will celebrate them just like any other day.
  • The show will be led on Wednesday by Pam Marcus, co-Event Director at Kensington parkrun. Pam was a regular volunteer and run director at College Park before heading off to start an event for her own local community. To start the new year she will be doing a unique double by being run director at both Kensington and College Park on the same day, with ace crews of volunteers on hand to support her in both places.

Parking

We're expecting a big, fun crowd in College Park. So parking at Acredale Park will be limited. Additional free parking is available at UMD Lot 11b, a 5-minute walk down the trail from the start, or at College Park Lanes bowling alley, across Baltimore Avenue from the Holiday Inn Express. Please allow a few extra minutes for parking. Or come by foot or by bike to parkrun.

Post-parkrun Brunch

All are invited to join for a big community brunch at The Board and Brew in College Park afterwards. And don't feel that you have to complete the 5K to join for brunch. If you or a family member would prefer to sleep in and just come join the post-parkrun fun, you're 100% welcome!

Dogs, Strollers, Kids

We very much welcome dogs at parkrun ("barkrunners"). But please keep your pup on a short leash, to help avoid mishaps. We also welcome strollers. They help the whole family to enjoy getting active outdoors together. Please buckle up your passengers - the lips on the bridges can be bumpy, and we don't want to see any kids go flying.

Also, kids age 4 upwards are welcome to take part with their own barcode. But we ask that under 11s always stay close to a parent or other responsible adult.

 

 

 

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