Park Plogging! (Run Report #132)

This week’s College Park parkrun #132 was all about our love for the trail that we enjoy every Saturday morning. For the third year we teamed up with the University of Maryland and Prince George’s County Dept of Parks & Recreation for a tree planting and clean-up event as part of Good Neighbor Day.

We planted 97 trees in the part of the trail just beyond the start/finish area. Well, with a big assist from a couple of UMD student groups, who did much of the heavy lifting.

We also did some clean-up work along the whole length of the trail that we ‘adopted’. Some parkrunners set off with trash bags and grabbers, and tried to find as much trash as they could along the trail. Apparently, the Swedes have a term for running and trash pick-up - plogging! Thanks especially to Misha Bernard, Külli Crespin, and Rebecca White for their efforts along the trail. And an extra shout out to Marc and Maia Swisdak and Team Schneider - Erin, Samantha, and Mary Claire, for pitching in with the cleanup effort close to the start/finish.

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We had a BIG volunteer crew this week. That was partly due to Good Neighbor Day. Many people helped with the tree planting -- Russ Dickerson, Ben and Meghan Gieske, Stewart Mayhew, Pete Monacelli, Catherine Spirito, Neil Jograj and Julie Russell. We’d like to give a special shout out to dad-daughter duo Dave and Alyssa Heintzelman, who between them managed to plant 10 trees. But it was also due to the rotating crew of helpers at the start/finish. Dale Morey, Maia Swisdak, and Marc Swisdak were the constants, in addition to Run Director Andrea Zukowski. But Chris McGranahan stepped in as timer for much of the event, then replaced by Sam Phipps. And Keaton Ellis happily jumped in as backup barcode scanner once Ben Gieske passed the torch.

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A couple of volunteer roles this week deserve special mention. We’re lucky to have Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson as our course marshals almost every week. But Hump is recovering from surgery, so we have substitute Hump and Lisa for a couple of weeks. This week Yancira Amaya  and Kim Fisher filled their shoes admirably. … But Lisa was still with us. As she described it, she snuck out while Hump was sleeping, and we were treated to the sight of Lisa in the crowd at the start line, for the first time in a long, long while. It’s not for nothing that Lisa is our most prolific parkrunner, now with 119 parkruns to her name.

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Also, it doesn’t feel so long since Rebecca White was first completing the 5k course with us. So it was great to see her this week leading the first-timers’ briefing, welcoming newcomers to this community that she is now a part of. Wonderful!

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It’s a mark of how we’ve grown that this week’s 92 finishers felt like a pretty quiet week. April is a month of good weather in DC, so there are lots of other fun things to do on a Saturday morning, whether they are track meets, the PGRC Springburst 10k race, soccer leagues, or just getting far out of town. Enjoy! We know that you haven’t forgotten about us and will be back soon enough.

We celebrated a couple of notable achievements before the start. Cotter Rosenberg joined the 50 club, with his proud dad Duane modeling the red shirt that soon will be on its way to Cotter. Cotter assured us when he started that he was not a runner. Well, the cat is now out of the bag, and it turns out that he’s a fairly handy runner. At first he would be duking it out with dad, but nowadays Duane stands no chance. And Cotter somehow is signed up to do this year’s Marine Corps Marathon. Congratulations Cotter!

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We also awarded our occasional Great Leap Forward award to Lucy Younes, who was clearly surprised to receive the award. Lucy is a long-time runner, but has been dealing with some balance issues lately, which have made it difficult to run. We’re thrilled that she has started joining us, and she brings yet more joy to the 50-minute part of the parkrun community.  The GLF award comes with a gift card generously provided by Vigilante Coffee. Congratulations, Lucy!

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It was also a quiet-ish week for first-timers. Olivia Zhao and PJ Bennett enjoyed a run together on the trail. And Chelsea Samo-Lipman was on hand to cheer Eli Black after they both finished their first parkrun.

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We welcomed a parkrun tourist from far afield, too. That’s entirely normal at downtown events like Roosevelt Island parkrun, but only the most discerning make it to College Park. Mareike Schomerus joined us from Finsbury Park in London. She’s used to somewhat larger attendances (parkrun is just huge in London), but she was pleasantly surprised by our trail and our enthusiastic vibe. Great that you could join us, Mareike!

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It was a week of many PBs. 15 to be exact. Many of them have a bit of a story.

First, Judy Barnes, a PB on her 58th parkrun. She’s finishing in 40:xx, and as far as we know she never runs. That’s some fast walking. That said, we’re curious about a couple of pictures taken on the downhill slope at the 1 mile to go mark. That’s as close as we’ve ever seen to evidence of Judy breaking into a run. In any case, nice going, Judy!

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Matt Kaplan continues his impressive streak. He has completed 11 parkruns, and he has set a PB in 10 of them. Wow!

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Luther Lemon is on a bit of a streak of his own, now with 4 PBs in 4 finishes. Oscar Mercado is on a similar streak. And he has now done 4 PBs in 4 weeks.

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Meghan Gieske was a deserved ringer of the PB bell after she took a full minute from her PB on her 20th parkrun. When she first joined us last summer Meghan was a 35-minute runner. As of this week she’s a 27:xx runner. Nice!

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It was a case of another week, another PB, another age-group record for Laurie Fisher.

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Derek Symer and Michael Laing were justifiably pleased to set PBs in their 20th and 22nd parkruns.

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And Stewart Mayhew has been blazing a trail. He first joined us on November 10th, when he finished in around 28 minutes. Now he’s on his 19th parkrun, and he finished this week in 22:xx. That’s some quick progress!

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We’re also seeing new members of our totally unofficial n-timer clubs. 7 people this week joined us for the 5th time: Rex Ledesma (PB!), Lawrence Steele, Keaton Ellis, Michael Osman, Kathleen Gustavson, Noemi Mercado, and her mom Dalila Jose.

Sam Phipps was our one new 10-timer this week. Impressively, Sam has taken only 185 minutes to complete those 10 parkruns. No wonder he needs to run between CP and Silver Spring en route, to get some extra miles in.

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We’re looking forward to welcoming you on Saturday, 4/20, for our 133rd event. Clark Ridge will be at the helm.

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

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A spring in your step (Run Report #131)

Before we get to the week's run report, two announcements:

1. Do you get Andrea's weekly email with news about College Park parkrun?

Many of you don't, because you have not 'opted in' to receive it. Many people have told us that they love receiving this newsletter especially when they have to miss parkrun for a while, because it keeps them feeling connected.

*Make sure you are receiving our weekly newsletter by clicking the “Opt In” link in your Results Email!* Or go to https://www.parkrun.com/signin/ to update your preferences. (Don't worry if you've lost your password, it's easy to reset it.)

2. It's Tree-Planting Day next Saturday at Acredale Park on the trail. If you have a bit more time to spare after parkrun, please consider staying back to plant a few trees! Your efforts will provide more shade for the trail (well, eventually) and make the park a more beautiful place.

And the report:

It's April! The snow and the cold are gone. The leaves are starting to grow back, the cherry trees are blooming, and everyone is taking their favorite anti-allergy medication. But one thing remains constant: parkrun. Every Saturday at 9 am, whether the trees are bare or whether there is snow or not.

Ready, set ...
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There is now a tradition of guessing the turnout each week, and this week it turned out (pardon the pun) to be good to be more conservative. One year ago, 108 finishers would have been a bumper crop, as this was our largest April crowd ever, but compared to chilly March, it felt like a quieter day. We know there are so many fun things to do outside at this time of year. Congrats, Mark (Shroder) -- your prize is free parkruns for the rest of the year!

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This week's crowd included about a dozen first-timers. This community continues to grow because first-timers keep coming back for more, and because they encourage friends and family to join them. That's how now over 2,000 people have taken part over 12,000 times.

One great example: Sam Phipps is one of our regular speedsters, often finishing before many of us have reached Lisa's turnaround spot. Normally he stays around to cheer everybody else at the finish. But this week he ran back down the trail to meet up with his mom and grandma, who he had brought along for a stroll on the trail. Wonderful!

Sam, mom, and grandma

Another first timer this week was Daniel Waistell. He's not new to parkrun, as he has done most of his previous parkrunning in Cambridge, UK. Now based in DC, he knows where to find us any weekend.

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And on that note, it was also really nice to see Steve and Cindy Feld again -- welcome back! Steve and Cindy were key team members at College Park parkrun before moving to North Carolina, but they were in town this weekend in part for the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler race.

Hi Cindy (and Jen)!

Rather unusually, there were no official parkrun milestones set this week, although a few people are getting very close (such as Cotter Rosenberg, Diana Gough, who did their 49th and 48th parkrun this week, respectively). Among the unofficial milestones that we like to call out: Lori Dominick joined the ranks of people who have done 25 parkruns -- halfway to the coveted red T-shirt. John Sener, Ryan Kneapler, Matt Kaplan each completed their 10th parkrun, and Elena Bailoni is now a 5-timer.

We counted 25 PBs: one in four parkrunners. It's great to see so many parkrunners improving on their previous times. Hopefully it will be a sign of even faster times as the weather gets better (and before the summer hits). Congratulations to Pete Wergin, Santiago Morales, Brian Hutchins, Abba Milkii, John Kastner, Abdur-Rahman Quadri, Kathy Cea, John Ramsey, Tom Charles, Briggs Rolfsrud, Xander Mease, Tara Mease, Elena Bailoni, Matt Kaplan, Aileen Kroll, Ada Lee, Ashley Barnes, Jason Alexis, Stefanie Hutchins, Oscar Mercado, Ellen Hamilton, Jie Yue, Fudong Han, Romy Wang, and Rebecca White!

 

Matt Kaplan deserves a special mention. This week he did his 10th parkrun, and we noticed that he has set a PB (almost) every single time so far. One week he missed by about 6 seconds, Impressive stuff, Matt!

Special shout out to Xander, who managed to raise $2,895 at the Great Strides 5k for Cystic Fibrosis the following day, almost doubling his fundraising goal. Thanks to the many parkrun friends who helped out with that.

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Congrats, Xander

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge the volunteers. As usual, a fantastic crew made sure you were safe on the trail and got your results on quickly. Hump and Lisa took up their usual positions along the trail, and Barbara Gusack made sure no one got left behind, while taking lots of great photos.

At the finish line were yours truly and people preparing for the Cherry Blossom race -- Ben and Meghan Gieske, who were your timekeepers, Steve Feld, who handed out tokens, and Catherine Spirito and Paul Monacelli, who scanned your barcodes and tokens. There were no timing or barcode issues when we processed results, all thanks to their great work.

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That's it for this run report. See you all again, and don't forget your barcode!

 

Our volunteers are awesome! (Run Report #130)

Wowie! Did we have some absolutely stunning spring weather for our 130th event! This winter has seemed to drag on a bit with the cold (and especially damp) weather, but Spring was out in full force with some beautiful weather. We took full advantage of it, too. 148 smiling finishers taking a bit of extra time hanging out with their extended family at the finish line and really enjoying themselves. Plus a strong showing at the Board and Brew for post-parkrun coffee, too!

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When planning for this event started on early Saturday morning, we had a crew of 6 volunteers lined up - course marshall extraordinaires Hump Plotts and Lisa Wilson, first timer briefing from Andrea Zukowski, Danny Walker and Sam McGranahan as our timing crew, and myself as run director. A stellar crew, for sure, but a few shy of what we needed. Now that we have done this 130 times, I have learned to not stress if the volunteer roster is a bit short. The community proved me right again. Jen Murphy was happy to jump in to give out finish tokens. Then we had Sharlene Deskins come up and ask if we had anyone as tailwalker. She was wonderful and took great photos of everyone along the way. Janet Tate asked me a little before we started if we needed more volunteers and gladly took on the job of barcode scanner. We still needed a couple more. That’s where JJ Su and Ben Gieske jumped in. And they still got to run! JJ took some excellent finish line photos and Ben filled the role of second barcode scanner. With the big attendance and one of the scanners acting up, we needed that second scanner!

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The PB bell rang a lot on Saturday! Some rang it reluctantly, unsure if their time was a PB, but were pleasantly surprised as results were processed. A few notable rings were from JJ and Ben who must have been so excited to get back to volunteer that they achieved a PB in the process. Sam Phipps also came through with a new PB, then waited at the finish line and cheered every single finisher. We love the support, Sam! Right behind Sam was Rex Ledesma with a shiny new PB and a ring of the bell. John Ramsey was among the uncertain bell ringers, and he was happy to see at breakfast that he had tied his PB! Great job, John! A few additional PBs from Saturday, did I mention the bell rang a lot, Oscar Mercado returned and set a PB on his second time out with us, Genevieve Coen, Anne-Marie Gorman, Ellen Oberholtzer, Amy Rice, and Sawyer Rice also set PBs. In total we had 24 PBs. I like to think it was the weather and the bright smile of all the volunteers.

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Well deserved recognition with some awards to start. Juan Saavedra earned his 10 milestone shirt a few weeks ago, and we were happy to finally recognize this accomplishment! Enjoy your new shirt, Juan! Lori Dominick was awarded this month’s parkrunner of the Month award. Lori is an amazing member of the community in her encouragement and welcoming nature. She is one of the reasons why this community has grown and is as strong as it is.

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It was great to welcome a bunch of first-timers this week. A couple of regular runners brought along a friend and walked the trail with them. Thank you for helping to welcome newcomers to our community! And we were happy to be joined for the first time by Sarah Byrne, the brains behind the Route 1 Fun newsletter that keeps us abreast of all kinds of cool things happening in the Route 1 corridor. Sarah - we hope you'll join us again some time.

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A special shout out to first-timer Vincent, who recently turned 4, making him old enough to get his own parkrun barcode. He walked the 5k with proud mom Teresa. Great job, Vincent!

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I’m already looking forward to our next parkrun! Don’t forget that from April 6th we will have FREE Yoga in the Parks, every Saturday at 10am after parkrun, a partnership with our friends at Prince George’s Parks. And on April 13th we will be teaming up with PG Parks and the University of Maryland again for post-parkrun trail and stream maintenance and tree planting, as a part of the University of Maryland’s Good Neighbor Day. Last year we had a huge crew of volunteers for this event, and we hope that you’ll be able to join us for it this year.

Brian Murphy
Run Director

 

 

The support you give (Run Report #126)

Each week as we head home after post-parkrun brunch at The Board and Brew Andrea and I like to share our favorite things that caught our attention at the morning’s parkrun. This week we enthused about how so many different members of the community are taking steps to make everybody feel welcome and valued.

Valerie Silensky and Lori Dominick made a point of heading back down the trail after finishing to join their new parkrun friend Rebecca White and support her on the last part of the route. Clark Ridge stopped along the trail when he noticed Mike McClellan limping. Other people headed back out after finishing to meet partners, kids, or parents. We were slightly short-handed at the finish line this week, but we didn’t need to worry, as we had so many offers of help from finishing parkrunners. Katie and Evan Hirsche sped around the course (with Sophie, of course) and then quickly morphed into the scanning team. Nick Huang and JJ Su then took over at some point. Once we reached The Board and Brew I found there was no need for me to do the results processing, as Neil Jograj picked up the purple laptop and took the lead. It’s wonderful to see so many people just stepping up to help out in different ways.

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Speaking of supporting each other, we’re really happy to see more and more people walking or walk-running at CP parkrunning, and we’d like to share the fun, supportive community with more walkers. Maybe you can help? You know that you’re just as valuable a part of the community if you cover 5k in 15 minutes or 1 hour or longer. We just love that you’re out there. But there’s that pesky “run” word in our name, and we totally understand apprehension about coming along. Together with some other US parkrun events, and inspired by a successful initiative at parkrun Ireland, we’re developing a “Park Walk” program at CP parkrun.

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Here are a couple of ways that you could help if you’re interested.

First, simply by joining us and walking or walk-running on the trail you help to inspire others to do the same.

Second, we’re looking to find 1-2 volunteers per week who can be available as walk group leaders. The aim is to ensure that walkers who join us won’t feel that they have to go it alone, though everyone is free to walk alone or with friends if they prefer. This volunteer role is super easy. It’s just like being tailwalker, except that your job is not to finish last. Drop us a line if you’d like to give this a try some time. collegepark@parkrun.com

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What else was happening at this week’s parkrun?

We celebrated a few awards! Aileen Kroll wore the red 50-sash with style and smiles -- we would expect no less from her -- and she did so one day after becoming a grandma. Congratulations, Aileen! We also celebrated Marvin Perdomo on reaching the junior 10 parkrun milestone, and earning a free parkrun shirt to prove it. Marvin actually did his 10th parkrun last week, but it slipped under our radar. Oops!

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We rolled out a new award. Our friends at Vigilante Coffee have generously donated some gift cards. We awarded a Certificate of Awesome and a Vigilante card to Rebecca White for her Great Leap Forward in joining us, completing her first 5k, and then coming back for more (PB this week!).

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We welcomed many first-timers this week. We love meeting you and welcoming you to our warm community.

Kate and Mariella McElhenny ran together, adding to the many families who are getting their weekend off to a great start by getting active outdoors together. Carlos Chaverri-Morales did his 32nd parkrun this week, but for the first time he came along with wife Viviana and twin daughters Sara and Elena, who had a great time on the trail. The Kaczmarski family came as a group and parents had a grand time while some younger family members got a little R&R. First timer Janine joined us for a run and coffee. And Keith Gallihue drove all the way from Delaware to join us. (We’re hoping that Delaware will have its own parkrun before too long -- if  you know of anybody in the First State who might be interested, drop us a line.)

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It’s only occasionally that international “parkrun tourists” make it out to College Park. If they’re in DC then the siren calls from Roosevelt Island are generally too hard to resist. But Irishman Aland Moen chose College Park as the venue for his first ever parkrun tourism. He has completed River Valley parkrun in Swords, near Dublin, Ireland on 54 occasions, and came to College Park for his 55th. Welcome, Aland! I took a look at the website for Aland’s home parkrun, and it almost looks like our long-lost twin. Launched within a couple of months of each other. Northern edge of a capital city. Almost identical average attendance. Almost identical average number of finishes per person. Female course records just one second apart. Now I’m tempted to visit, if I’m ever near Dublin Airport on a Saturday morning.

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This week saw a lot of PBs, too. It’s fun to see so many of you getting faster, and great to hear the PB bell ringing at the finish line.

Pride of place this week goes to the Puddle Queen herself. Violet Ridge took nearly *2 minutes* from her PB on her 53rd parkrun. She was clearly inspiring for the grown-ups around her this week, as they arrived saying, “Wow, Violet was on FIRE today!” When she first joined us in Spring 2017 Violet was covering the course in a little under 40 minutes. This week she took 26 minutes. We suspect that she’s not done yet!

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THREE parkrunners did their 45th parkrun this week, and ALL of them ran a PB, or what might as well be a PB. Katie Hirsche led home dad Evan and barkrunner Sophie in 20:44, improving her own age-category record. Gloria Cottman arrived earlier than expected, taking most of a minute from her PB. And although it wasn’t an official PB for Diana Gough, it was her fastest finish in almost 2 years, and it so good to see Diana able to run comfortably again, after a long time of struggling with injuries. We are looking forward to seeing all of these folks in the red 50 sash in the not too distant future.

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Teresa Perdomo set her 4th PB in as many weeks for her 25th parkrun. Impressive! And Stewart Mayhew took a sizable chunk from his PB on his 10th run at College Park. This week Stewart joined the Tuesday evening track night with Prince George’s Running Club, and feels that it helped him set the PB. “Track night” may sound a bit scary, but the PGRC version is anything but intimidating, and if you go along you’ll be sure to find many friendly faces, including a few parkrunners. Ben Gieske set a PB on his 15th parkrun. Meanwhile, Matt Kaplan seems to be running up an impressive streak of PBs: 6 times at CP parkrun, 6 PBs. Nice! Matthew Bowman is on a similar streak, this week setting his 4th PB in 4 visits.

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Luther and Michelle Lemon came back for a second time, and both set PBs. In part this was because they *almost* made it to the start on time this week. So most parkrunners were treated to the sight of Luther zooming past them along the trail … while pushing a stroller.

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Amy Duan was another second-timer setting a PB this week. Amy had joined us once before, for the Homecoming 5k in late 2017. Great to see her back. If it has been a little while since your last time at CP parkrun, we’d still love to see you.

Also, it almost slipped under our radar, but Laurie Fisher’s PB as a second-timer also turns out to be an age-category record for the 65-69 group.

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More people joined our unofficial CP parkrun clubs this week. We like to call these out as people are on the path towards the official parkrun milestones. Teresa Perdomo and Neil Jograj both joined the 25-timer group. John Maneval, Travis Boltjes, and Stewart Mayhew are now 10-timers at College Park. And Ada Lee and Michael Reed both did their 5th CP parkrun.

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We would be nowhere without the crew of smiling volunteers each week, and we love the mix of experienced and new volunteers. On the super-experienced event of the scale, we celebrated Hump Plotts 67th birthday on his 111th time volunteering. Carolyn Kelley delivered a cupcake to him at Hump’s Crossing. And many of you signed a card for him at the finish. Thank you, Hump, for being there for us in ALL weathers. Lisa Wilson was in her normal spot in the woods, just beyond the nicely repaired stream bank. Külli Puusta was tailwalker and cheerleader, together with her friend Gina Morales. Ryan Chelton, Michael Cohen, and Dave Roeder handled the timekeeping and token distribution with skill. This was harder than usual, as we finished on the trail to avoid the slippery field, and so it became tricky to figure out who was and was not finishing. Evan and Katie Hirsche jumped in after running to do barcode scanning. Dottie Jograj, Rebecca White and Valerie Silensky sorted tokens (and we seemed to end up with more than we started - impressive!). Neil Jograj processed results, under the watchful eye of volunteer coordinator and paparazza Andrea Zukowski. And I kind of just stood around in an orange vest and did a lot of cheering, which was rather fun.

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See you again soon!

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

 

 

parkrunning Together, Part 2 (Run Report #125)

Yes, I agree with Nick. In run report #124, he said that you can do your own thing, and you can also do things together, at parkrun. Not too long ago, I used to be more comfortable running by myself, until I asked Nick if I could join him at parkrun. He said yes. Since then, we have run, volunteered, and toured other parkruns together.

In addition to Nick, there are so many of you who I have met along the way. You are the ones that have made parkrun into a get-together, one where we also get to go out and back along the Paint Branch trail. Quick shout out to those who mentioned to me that they read the article where I shared how I started my parkrun journey. =)

If someone has asked you (like I how I asked Nick), whether they could join you at parkrun, please let them know that there will be a “park walk” program at College Park parkrun. Please email collegepark@parkrun.com if you are interested to park walk with us. There will be a volunteer if you would like someone to park walk with you. In fact, if you want to encourage a friend for showing up, come early and chalk a message or two for them at the start / finish line (chalk provided!).

Here’s a quick recap of the get-together this week.

People park ran together.

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People park walked together.

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People smiled together.

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People PBed together.

 

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People brunched together.

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People volunteered together.

 

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Milestones this week.

Sheilah Kast joined the 50 club!

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John Scott (25 timer) is now halfway to joining Sheilah. While Ryan Chelton and Marvin Perdomo both joined the 10 timer club, only Marvin will get the 10-club shirt for juniors (sorry Ryan). Our totally unofficial 5-timer club members now include Aveika Akum, Briggs Rolfsrud, Kristen Maneval, Matt Kaplan, Ralph Dubaya, Naomi Petralia, and her dad Jason Petralia. Naomi and Jason were 2 of the 22 PBs that were recorded this week. This is the fifth week in a row that daughter and dad have been setting PBs! We also welcome the twelve first-timers who joined us this week. One of them was also the first finisher!

Last but not least, my thanks goes out to the mix of new and familiar faces in the volunteer crew for this week. Lisa Wilson & Hump Plotts (marshaling), Valerie Silensky (first timer briefing), Erin Schneider (tailwalking) Michelle Brandy & Yancira Amaya (timekeeping), Brian Murphy (handing out tokens), Jack Herbst & Katie Hirsche (scanning the tokens), Saul Goldberg (number checking), Nick Huang (photographing), Enrique Jograj Jr. & Julie Russell (token sorting), Colin Phillips (communicating), Andrea Zukowski (volunteer coordinating). Hope the volunteers enjoyed the Vigilante Coffee gift card!

See you at the next #parkrun get-together.

JJ Su
Run Director

 

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