College Park parkrun is cancelled on 14 March 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Winter’s Last Stand (Reports #179-181)

Now that spring seems to have arrived, our fingers have thawed out from a few chilly Saturday mornings at College Park parkrun. So here’s our newest triple report, covering the events on Feb 22nd, Feb 29th, and Mar 7th.

Coronavirus Update

We need to start with some announcements about how we are responding to the novel coronavirus situation. Our goal is to support a healthy community, and so we take all health and safety concerns seriously. We are following guidance from federal, state, and local authorities, which are rapidly evolving.

Until now, the risk has been low in our area, and so we focused at our March 7th event on implementing some simple steps that can reduce risk of transmission. In thinking through the parkrun routine, we were struck by how predictable many of the actions are, and hence manageable.

  • We’ll take a rain check on the high fives and hugs for now.
  • Barcodes and finisher tokens are one area where many sweaty hands can touch the same items. We’re now doing touch free scanning. And token sorting isn’t happening at The Board and Brew.
  • The PB bell is grounded for a few weeks.
  • We’re reducing touching of food and shared utensils.

If you have any concerns about your own safety or health, take a break and we’ll look forward to seeing you when things improve. But aside from that we hope that we can continue to make a positive contribution to the physical and mental health of the community.

It may be that we have to cancel at some point. Some of our sister events in the Seattle area have already had to do that, in response to local outbreaks. We shall see!

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Now on to happier updates …

Tutus!

On 22-2-2020 we invited parkrunners to wear a tutu, to celebrate a date with a LOT of twos. And we were happy to see that many rose to the challenge.

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Leap Day

It’s not often that you get to do a parkrun on Leap Day. In fact, your next chance will be in 2048. Not a lot of extra leaping happening, though we did have some good examples the following week, as demonstrated here by first timer Borris Verdan. And Stewart Mayhew's frog-colored outfit seemed to help him score a PB.

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Just a few notables

We celebrated FIVE milestones.

On Feb 22 Helena Santos-Collins joined the 50 club. Helena has been a regular walker and walk-runner over the past couple of years who has helped to make many feel welcome at CP parkrun.

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On Mar 7 we had his and hers sashes ready for Catherine Spirito and Pete Monacelli as they joined the 50 club. This came one week after they both set PBs in their 49th parkrun.

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On Mar 7 Milkii Dagne joined the junior 10 club. Her dad is working his way towards his 50th parkrun, but his daughter earned the first milestone shirt in the family. Congratulations!

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Also on Mar 7, Team McElhenny did All The Things. Dad John and siblings Theodore and Gwyneth all set PBs, on their 4th, 6th, and 8th parkruns. Big sister Mariella continued the pattern by doing her 10th parkrun and earning herself a free shirt. And mom Kate, who leads the family with her 11 parkruns, brought along a delicious gluten-free applesauce gingerbread cake to share. And it was SO delicious!

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Sam Stafford, now 4, has his own barcode, and completed his first 5K with us on 2/22, with proud mom and 50-clubber Crystal helping him along. Great stuff, Sam!

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On the other end of the age scale, Bonnie McClellan recently turned 80. So now she and her husband Mike are our two octogenarian 50-clubbers. So inspiring! Mike is still on the comeback trail and we were happy that he was able to walk 2 miles of the trail on Mar 7.

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And one more special first-timer … well, sort of a first-timer … is Hump Plotts, our favorite golf course marshal. It wasn’t Saturday morning, but one day at the end of February he set off walking down the trail, and somehow got carried away and walked the entire 5K. This was just a few months after heart surgery. We’re just as happy about Hump’s achievement as somebody who zips around in 15 minutes. No, scratch that. We’re definitely more excited!

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By the numbers

So far in 2020 we have held 11 free events already.

So far in 2020, around 600 people have completed 1,591 5Ks. Supported by 63 volunteers who have between them volunteered 180 times.

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Over 200 people have registered for CP parkrun in 2020 alone, taking the total to over 3,800 who have registered with College Park as their home parkrun.

There were 37 first-timers at the past 3 events.

College Park parkrun now has over 700 5-timers, and over 400 10-timers. On any given Saturday, roughly a quarter of the 10-timers join us. That’s getting to be a lot of regular parkrunners.

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There are now over 90 CP parkrunners who have earned a red 50 shirt. And it’s becoming normal to see 50 of them at the park on a Saturday morning.

We are happy to see the near parity in male-female participation at CP parkrun. That was not always the case, but it’s increasingly common that there are more women than men finishers.

We’re also really glad to see a strong contingent of walkers and walk-runners at CP parkrun, even in the cold months. Around a quarter of finishers arrive after 40:00, and we are just delighted to see them, however long it takes.

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We are super happy to see some speedy runners taking a break to walk with a friend or a family member, to help them feel at home at CP parkrun. Like Catherine Franceour, who brought along her friend Curry. Or John Larsen, who has taken to enjoying the trail with his wife Amanda. We love this!

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Volunteers!

We would be nowhere without our wonderful volunteer crews. Different people volunteer every week, and so many have found that it’s FUN to join the CP parkrun volunteer crew. Simply sign up for some week by emailing Andrea at collegepark@parkrun.com. Also, we highly recommend to sign up for our once-weekly dose of email fuzziness (and volunteer recruitment). To sign up, update your profile at parkrun.com. Please and Thank You.

Our fearless run directors for these weeks were (drumroll) … Brian Murphy, Jacqueline Hayes, and Neil Jograj. Thank you all!

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We have been happy to welcome some new volunteers to the crew. Owen Brewer is in town for an internship for a couple of months, and he has already volunteered more than he has run. Hira Nasir and her brother Abdullah have stepped up as finish line crew the past two weeks, braving the icy winds at the park.

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Trace Huard has been showing the many ways of enjoying CP parkrun when you’re not (yet) able to run again after injury. On 2/29 he was timekeeper and high-fiver. He’s an old hand at that. On 3/7 he was able to walk again, so he teamed up with his friend Gloria Cottman as the photography crew, and they roamed the trail, finding happy parkrunners wherever they turned.

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Coming Attractions

April 4th is UMD’s Good Neighbor Day, and we hope to again be partnering with UMD and PG Parks on some trail maintenance and beautification projects. We’d LOVE to see a big crew of parkrun volunteers helping out with this effort.

March 21st and March 28th see the launch of two new US parkrun events. 3/21 sees the start of Danehy Park parkrun in Cambridge, MA. Yes, another college town with a parkrun. Go check them out if you’re in Boston some time. 3/28 sees the launch of Canyon Rim Trail parkrun in Twin Falls, ID. You’re less likely be “just passing through”, but this one has to be on your parkrun bucket list. The trail literally follows the rim of the Snake River Canyon. (For those of you of a certain age, you may remember 70s daredevil Evel Knievel attempting to cross the canyon in one of his more memorable stunts.)

June 13th is a little further afield, but we’re happy to be involved in the Second Trolley Trail Day festivities. We’ll hold our regular parkrun at 9am, followed by free Yoga in the Park. Then at 10:30am we’ll be helping to host a 6K point-to-point run from parkrun to Franklin’s. We’re looking for a good name for this: Rail Trail to Ale perhaps? We’re sure you can do better than us!

Finally, I was not around for the 2/22 parkrun, as I was working in Philadelphia. So I missed out on my favorite Saturday morning activity. But what should I find across the street from my hotel in University City, but … The Board and Brew! Our favorite CP coffee spot now has a sister in Philly, and it’s REALLY nice. Two floors of coffee, food, and gaming. I was there just a couple of weeks after they opened, and the place was already hopping. Check them out sometime.

Colin

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Heroes, High Fives, and Valentines (Report #178)

The day started off at a brisk 20 degrees, but the SUN was shining! So for the 120 runners, walkers, and volunteers who joined us this week it wasn’t as icy as expected. Some people even wore shorts.

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Part of my job as the week’s run director (= boss for the day) is to write a report on what happened. So this week’s report is about our heroes, high fives, and Happy Valentines.

[We’re sure it’s entirely coincidental that Lori got to be RD on Halloween and on Valentines weekend. This year we’ll have a July 4th parkrun, just sayin’. --ed.]

Heroes

Sometimes, heroes DO wear capes. Clare Imholtz has volunteered for parkrun 25 times!  Clare volunteered Saturday because she had a big race coming up on Sunday, and she was rewarded with this lovely mask and cape. Thank you, Clare!

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Amanda Mercer completed her 100th parkrun this week. She tore her ACL (ouch!) a few days after her 99th parkrun and she has been waiting patiently. She finally lost patience and walked the course to get to 100, accompanied by a group of supportive friends! Congratulations, Amanda!

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100 is also an important number for Lisa Wilson, our turnaround marshal. 100 has been a notable number for Lisa because:

  • In November 2018, Lisa brought her 100 year old father, who is now 101, to do his first parkrun
  • In December 2018, Lisa completed her 100th parkrun
  • In December 2018, a week later, Lisa also hit her 100th time volunteering (as did her husband, Hump Plotts)
  • In addition to those One Hundreds, Lisa has finished in 100th position on 8 occasions, more than any other position.

Happy 100 to you, Lisa!

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Andrea Zukowski is a hero for making not one, but two cakes to celebrate our milestones Saturday.  Thank you!

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Finally, 24 people earned a ring of the PB bell this week. That’s 5 first-timers and 19 who completed the course faster than ever before. Here are just a few of them …

When you already hold the age-group record, you're not supposed to go and set a 90-second PB. But that's just what 16-year old Katie Hirsche did on Saturday, with the fastest female time we've seen in almost 2 years: 19:06. Impressive! She also paced her dad Evan to a new PB a few seconds behind her.

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Rebecca White managed yet another PB! She’s edging closer to 70 minutes, and word on the street has it that she has her sights set on a time in the 60s! Go, Rebecca!

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The cold seemed to help the speedsters, as 7 of the first 10 finishers this week set PBs, including David Lai and Malik Al-Jame and Mary Commins.

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Celeste Pere shaved a mere 1 second from her PB, and seemed to have fun doing so.

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And Andrea Solan took a big step towards cracking 40 minutes.

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High Fives

CP parkrun is all about high fives, especially when you cross the finish line. Trace and Clare were handing out the high fives this Saturday, and it’s not as easy as it looks, especially if you’re trying to do accurate timekeeping AND keep your fingers from freezing at the same time.

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Happy Valentine’s

Even though Valentine’s Day was the night before, many parkrunners and volunteers wore Valentine’s colors.

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Volunteer Heroes

A special “Thank You” to all of the volunteers who helped on Saturday: Hump, Lisa, Yancira, Teresa, Külli, Andrea, Clare, Trace, Chris, Steven, Mike, Frank, Patrick, Duane, Zoe, Clark, Rebecca, and Colin.

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When you see anyone in a yellow vest on parkrun Saturdays, please give them some love. And if you’d like to volunteer, please let us know. It’s fun! Who knows, you might get to wear the purple cape someday too!

Check out our volunteer roster for upcoming weeks. Drop us a line at collegepark@parkrun.com to sign up for a specific week. And please, please add yourself to the email list for the once-weekly news/volunteer email from Andrea. You can add yourself to the list via your personal profile at parkrun.com.

For this week's full results, see here.

Looking for the full photo album for this week and any other week? Check out our Flickr albums page.

 

See you next Saturday! Some will be coming in tutus to mark the date (2/22/2020 -- so many twos!). How about you?

Lori Dominick

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Karaoke, a 5K, and the Grand Canyon

This is the first in a new series of occasional stories about members of the College Park parkrun community. We are thankful to Rebecca White for sharing her story, which shows how one person's resolve, combined with a supportive community, can make a world of difference. 

My name is Rebecca Vandenbroeck White. I am 56 years old. I am a parkrun walker and volunteer at College Park parkrun. Over the last year parkrun has become a vital part of my living a healthy lifestyle.

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Making a Choice

In August of 2018 I reached a crucial point in my life. I realized that at over 340 pounds I had a choice to make. I could either change the way I was living or face being housebound in a short period of time. It wasn’t just my weight that had caused this, but also an ever increasing lack of activity had left me so weak that I could not walk from my place of employment to the parking lot without stopping to sit. I could not stand for any period of time without my back screaming in agony. I could not even put on my own socks. When my family went to a museum, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair.

Most days I went to work, came home, lay on the couch, went to bed, got up and then repeated the same process. I’d come home Friday evenings and not leave the house again until the following Monday morning. Outside of family, work and Facebook I had no sense of belonging to a community. I was living in a self-imposed prison caused by obesity and lack of movement.

In August 2018 I started working out and logging my food intake. It was hard. It was frustrating. But being fat and out of shape was harder. I couldn’t lift five pounds. Honestly, I couldn’t lift 2 pound weights more than a few repetitions. But I began losing weight and getting stronger. I was able to take short walks. I felt hope, but I still felt isolated.

Making a List

One day I made a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do as a result of my new, healthier lifestyle and one of the things I listed was to participate in a 5K. I knew that was a long way off, but I put it on there next to going to the Grand Canyon, kayaking, and singing karaoke. A few weeks passed, and a high school friend posted on her Facebook page about participating in a 5K. I mentioned to her that I hoped to do that one day. Through the wonder of social media another old friend saw my post and told me about this thing called parkrun in Renton, Washington, and suggested I check to see if there was a local parkrun. I did and discovered there were a few within driving distance, with College Park being the closest.

Becoming a Lurker

I was interested in parkrun, but was it really for someone like me? Most of my workouts were strength training, stationary recumbent bicycling and water fitness. I didn’t run. I didn’t jog. And honestly, I still wasn’t walking all that much beyond the minimum required. So, I lurked. I read through the parkrun international website. I found College Park parkrun’s Facebook page. I even found a video of [co-event director] Colin videoing a parkrun with a GoPro. The route looked beautiful, and it was flat. Great! I saw smiling people. Great! Runners, walkers, families, babies in strollers, and dogs on leashes. Great! Hmmmm. Maybe this was something for me to check out. I figured I didn’t have to do the whole 5k, I could turn around if I wanted to. There was even a post on the parkrun Facebook page about someone who did just that, and when he was able to complete the whole event, people were happy for him. Cool!

In December of 2018 I registered for parkrun. Every week I read the Facebook page. Every week I watched the weather. Too cold. Too wet. Snow. Ice. It looked like there would never be a perfect weekend to go. Excuses, anyone?

Team Sloth: We’ll Get There When We Get There

Finally, I told myself to quit putting it off and I went. That was February 9, 2019 - one year ago. I had gotten a special shirt with the saying “Sloth Running Team. We’ll get there when we get there.” Two ladies saw my shirt and came over and introduced themselves. Lucy and Laurie really made me feel welcome, and the funny thing is they were first timers, too. What a gift. I found out the next time they are regular 5K and marathon participants but they had heard about parkrun and came to check it out. They’ve been regulars ever since.

Well, I’d love to say that I walked the 5k route with ease that day, that I have set personal bests (PBs) on a regular basis, and that I now run with the wind. But no. That is not my story.

That day I quickly found out how slow I really do walk - the sloth shirt proved to be prophetic. I was not prepared for the walk, or for the temperatures in the mid 20’s that morning. After a while I became concerned I wouldn’t be able to finish. I did not believe in myself. I was anxious. But I was not alone. The tail walker was with me. Misha had caught up with me and we talked as we walked. She never rushed me - she met my pace. And when I decided to turn back she took my picture so I could see how far I’d made it. I had gone one mile.

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Tailwalker Misha took this picture when I turned back at the one mile mark, as a target for the next time I came back.

Of course, I had to walk back and at a total distance of 1.7 miles I stopped at Hump’s Crossing and Kim (subbing for Hump) gave me a lift back to the finish. I would need to learn how to dress for the weather and how to believe in myself.

The next Saturday I came back. The temperature was warmer than the previous week and the memories of the warm welcome were still fresh. I was not wrong to return. A woman I had met the week before walked almost the entire trail with me. Wow! Lori wasn’t the tail walker, and she definitely can walk faster than I can, but she chose to walk along and keep me company for the entire parkrun. Two others, Valerie and Lucy, came back out after they finished and met us along the trail and walked in with us. Basically strangers, but supporting me in a way that meant the world. Oh, I said “entire parkrun” didn’t I? Because on that day February 16, 2019 with a finish time of over 90 minutes I completed my first 5K. It was hard, but I just kept going one step at a time. Along the way and at the finish line, I was cheered and high-fived and it felt incredible.

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Lori and Misha supported me the whole way

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Complete a 5K - check!

The Struggle

A year has gone by now. I would like to say it has all been happy times, and mostly it has been. However, there were times when friction blisters or joint pain made it to where I could barely cross the finish line. But these physical pains were only part of it. The real struggle was dealing with crushing self doubt. That first week I did not realize the average finish time was under 40 minutes, and it had taken me more than twice that. When I realized how much of an outlier my time was, I again allowed anxiety to build up. I told myself I did not belong there. I was making the volunteers wait. They would resent me. They would quit volunteering if they had to wait so long in the cold, the rain, the heat, the sun ….

But, everytime I showed up, they cheered, high-fived, walked with me and came back out to walk me in. They told me in words and actions that I deserved to be a part of parkrun just as much as the 18-minute finishers. Others walked with me and helped me feel a part of the community - Andrea, Lori, Lisa, Valerie, Misha, Külli, Yancira, Anna, Ellen (with barkrunner Eli), and other tail walkers whose names I do not remember but whose faces are in my memory.

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Since my first parkrun my times have improved. I will never be a fast finisher, but I set goals and have seen my times improve. On February 8th 2020, the one year anniversary of my first parkrun attempt, I finished in 70 minutes. It was a personal best and over 20 minutes off my first finish time.

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In addition to walking, I have also volunteered many times. Photography is my favorite way to volunteer, but there are a variety of different volunteer jobs that I enjoy and that give me an opportunity to participate in and build the community I have embraced.

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Filling my bucket

Of course, parkrun isn’t all there is to life, but it has sure added to mine. I have a community that I know will always be there, every Saturday at 9:00. On February 15 I will complete my 20th College Park parkrun. I have definitely marked completing a 5K off my bucket list. Although I haven’t yet made it to the Grand Canyon, I have been kayaking and I have sung karaoke in the past year. I continue to keep up other fitness activities - even adding in a weekly gentle round of racquetball with my son. I have now lost over 60 pounds and am working to lose more.

Through learning to quiet my self doubts during parkrun I find it easier to quell those negative voices in other parts of my life. Wanting to do better at parkrun yet having a distaste for treadmills, I started going outside more to walk. I have rediscovered my love of nature and hiking. I have taken up birdwatching and nature photography, and my life is no longer so insular. I am grateful for the second chance to actually enjoy the life I have been given.

Fill your bucket

If you have thought about going to parkrun, come along some Saturday. If you need an invitation, here it is. Come, see what parkrun is about. If you have come before but were worried that you weren’t fast enough, come back. parkrun is there for everyone.  And, if you have an empty bucket, bring it along. We’ll help you fill it with fun, support and community.

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Twisting and turning (Report #177)

After Friday brought some of the worst winter rain storms ever seen in Maryland, it was little surprise that parts of the back half of our course were flooded. So we were back on the Alternate B course for the second time in three weeks. This has not happened before. With the benefit of recent experience, this part was easy.

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A different challenge arose when it transpired, after the fact, that the finish tokens were out of sequence. And the central parkrun server that we use to manage results was having a bad hair day, too. Fortunately Run Director Anna Tinnemore and Trace Huard were the cool-as-two-cucumbers volunteers who took on the task of sorting everything out. So it somehow all worked out. Magically.

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Normally when we are forced to use our alternate course it’s also raining. But this week we saw the first parkrun sun in a few weeks. So more people got to enjoy the twists and turns than usual, With 123 finishers and a course that involves SIX visits to Hump, that comes out to 738 visits to Hump, almost certainly a new record. Hump kept on smiling, of course.

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The extra twists and turns made for more opportunities for barkrunners to say hi to their fans.

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And there were some barkrunners who were convinced that their humans had misjudged. Don’t they know that CP parkrun is a one lap parkrun?

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We congratulated Katie Hirsche on her 25th time volunteering. As often, Katie zoomed around the course, and then jumped in as a volunteer. Last week she didn’t run as she was timekeeper. But instead she zoomed off right afterwards to head to a track meet, where of course she zoomed around the 2 mile race.

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No official parkrun milestones this week, but Janel Niska became our latest 25-timer, and both Cirilio Perez and Teresa Crawford joined our exclusive 5-timer club.

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It was a different kind of milestone for Rebecca White this week. One year after getting up the courage to join us for the first time, she completed her 19th CP parkrun. One year ago she was able to make it to the mile marker and then back to Hump’s Crossing, but no further. Nowadays completing the 5K is no biggie, and this week she set a new PB, of 1:10:something. That’s progress.

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More PBs this week came from Kathy Gustafson, who is now around three-quarters of the way to earning a 50 shirt. Elizabeth Cooper seems to be getting faster almost every week. JA Hinds is also chipping away at her time on a regular basis.

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A special shout out to 10-year old Mariella McElhenny, who helped to pace a number of people to a PB this week, including her mom Kate.

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It’s always a highlight to meet first-timers at CP parkrun.

Joan and Tom Heffernan joined us from Connecticut, together with their daughter Cathryn from Seattle. They sprung a surprise on co-Event Director and friend Andrea, who had no idea that they would be coming along this week. A very pleasant walk was had by all.

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We welcomed Marlies Gillis from Belgium. Marlies is spending a few months working at UMD, and must have heard that CP parkrun is a great place to meet locals. (Marlies also had the obscure distinction of being the 1000th finisher so far this year at CP parkrun. That’s not bad for one week into February.)

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Andrea Frisch is a local who was doing her first CP parkrun, but she has discovered parkrun while living in Germany. What good luck to find that College Park has a pretty good parkrun of its own.

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We even had a few international parkrun tourists with us this week. That doesn’t happen very often at College Park. Ffion Jones and her parents Gwyn and Cathy visited us from Leicestershire, UK, where nowadays they can mostly be found at the charmingly named Melton Mowbray parkrun. (It’s the name of the town. Try saying it six times quickly.)

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The week’s volunteer crew included THREE first-time volunteers. Jen Matis tried her hand at barcode scanning, Hira Nasir helped out afterwards, after completing the run. And Laura Ramos did a much needed course check, confirming that the trail was indeed flooded.

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The rest of this week’s crew were veterans: Anna Tinnemore, Tomas Marambio, Trace Huard, Katie Hirsche, Jenn Augsburger, Misha Bernard, Katie Hirsche, John Larsen, Stewart Mayhew, Valerie Silensky, Marc Swisdak, and Rebecca White. And then of course there were Lisa and Hump, Andrea and Colin, who are doing their thing almost every week. Thanks to all!

Finally, a couple of reminders:

You can find all of our photo albums on our Flickr site. We also share pictures and stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you’re not already signed up to our volunteer email list, please do. Just one news update and volunteer summary each week. Opt in via your parkrun.com profile. Please and thank you!

And please be aware that your purchases of parkrun merchandise help to support the central infrastructure that we depend on every single week. It’s always free to take part, and we’ll never ask you to buy anything. The things that happen on the ground in College Park cost almost nothing. But the IT backend that we share with all other parkrun events, the insurance that makes it possible for PG Parks to let us use the trail for free, the milestone shirts, and so on, they all cost money. Link for barcode wristbands and tags. Link for clothing.

See you next week!

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All the little things (Report #176)

Spoiler alert: nothing momentous happened this week. Really, you won’t be calling your mom to tell her about anything you read here. But that’s ok. The reason why we welcomed over 150 parkrunners and parkwalkers to the trail on a just-above-freezing morning in February is all the little things that add up to make people keep coming back, and then bringing friends and family along, too.

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First, there’s the volunteers that keep things humming along every week. The volunteers are parkrunners and parkwalkers just like you. They range from the speediest runners to folks who wish they could walk the full 5K, and all in between.

This week Sam Phipps flew around the course to a new PB. The finish crew wasn’t expecting him when he appeared out of the woods. First time under 17 minutes is a nice achievement. But then, as usual, Sam hung around the finish line to cheer everybody else in.

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Perennial first female Katie Hirsche wasn’t parkrunning this week, as she was doing an indoor track race later that morning. So she came along to volunteer as timekeeper instead, while her parents ran the 5K. When Katie needed to head off, Sam stepped in to take over her role.

Then there’s Amanda Mercer, who was looking forward to doing her 100th parkrun with us this week. Then she tore her ACL (not snowboarding, just while shepherding 2nd graders). She didn’t want to stay away, so she came out and volunteered as a timekeeper instead. Sorry that  you couldn’t run, Amanda. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery!

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Zoe Phillips helped out with the pre-parkrun briefing this week. Zoe’s a 12th grader, and it looks like he’s going to be around for another few years (thanks UMD!). So he’s excited to continue as part of our regular volunteer crew, and is looking into trying out the Run Director role.

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We love hearing from you if you’d like to help out as part of the volunteer crew. We’d especially love to hear from new volunteers. Not because we’re struggling to fill the weekly roster. Far from it. But because the broader and the more diverse our volunteer pool, the stronger the community. Oh, and volunteering at CP parkrun is fun! If you’re not already receiving Andrea’s once-weekly email with news and volunteering updates, please do sign up via your parkrun profile (use the link in any weekly results email).

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We celebrated a few official parkrun milestones this week. Michael Laing and Susan Keller both joined the 50 club. We’re looking forward to seeing them on the trail in their red 50 shirts in the near future. And Raphael Larson earned himself a white 10 shirt, though he almost snuck under our radar.

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We keep track of the various parkrun milestones reached by CP parkrunners -- the count is up to 175 now. This week we noticed an interesting statistic: 50 of this week’s finishers are 50 clubbers. All of them local. That sounds like a lot now, but with another 90 people who have completed CP parkrun 25-49 times, that number is sure to keep growing.

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Even in the middle of winter we welcome first-time parkrunners to the trail every single week. It’s always interesting to hear how they learned about us.

Mocha Lee, Amber Perry, and Regina Hampton all came along after hearing about us from CP parkrun regular Jim Cantwell.

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Semih Kara adds to the list of Terp grad students who have been persuaded to come along by Chris Roth.

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Lenora Woods is another who heard about us via a friend. So many people now have come because they heard from a friend, who heard from another friend. And so it goes.

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Tom Pilon found us online. He has been following a couch to 5K program, and needed to find an event to cap off the program. Fortunately, he found us. Great venue to do your first ever 5K. And your second, and your third …

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Speaking of which, Erin Munsell did her first 5K with us a couple of years ago. This week she did her 94th. It’s as much walking as running right now as she recovers from injury. But we’re happy to see her on the trail at whatever pace.

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Two other regulars are reaching a milestone of sorts. Violet and Clark Ridge have been running together at CP parkrun since 2017, shortly after Violet turned 8. They have run together around 70 times. But this week Violet turns 11, the age of parkrun freedom, when she’s able to run alone. So they won’t be required to run together in the future. But we suspect this was not their last time running together.

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The cool weather turned out to be great for PBs, with *28* registering a new best time. Impressive!

We barely recognized Evan Hirsche without his usual barkrunner companion Sophie. But we were happy to see him set a PB. This was his 85th parkrun.

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Reese Madsen took another minute from his PB. A couple of years ago walking was painful. Now, with a new hip and a friendly, weekly 5K, he’s getting faster all the time. And this week he was just 4 minutes behind his wife Cathy. Not that he’s counting or anything.

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David Lai, Chris Roth, and Dan Pearlstein all were happy with their PBs. And they credit speedy Mary Commins for pulling them to a fast time. Mary was back for her second parkrun, and she set a PB herself. Nice!

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Jen Matis took *2* minutes from her PB, and credits her PT for getting her there.

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Shayla Chelliah went even better, taking *4* minutes from her PB. She’s gaining on her dad.

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And we’re closely watching Joanne Heintzelmann’s progress. She first joined us on New Years Day, and walked the 5K in just under an hour. Now we’re seeing her running more and more, and she’s knocking on the door of 50 minutes. Husband Dave and daughter Alyssa have now done 100 parkruns between them, but we’re super excited to see Joanne becoming a part of the community, too.

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Also this week, our mayors were going the extra mile. After completing the 5K, Patrick and Duane set off to do it all again, with David and Keaton as security detail. Then they joined us at The Board and Brew, where they teamed up with Valerie Silensky to sort finisher tokens. Let it be noted that all 151 tokens were accounted for and correctly ordered.

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And we also noticed Andy Fellows pacing the 5K with Misha Bernard. With 45 CP parkruns under his belt, Andy is on track to become our 3rd (current or former) mayor in the 50 club. We have a healthy community!

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See you soon! I am looking forward to following events at CP parkrun from afar for the next few weeks, as I’ll be on the road for work. Whether I have been running, or volunteering on site, or both, I haven’t missed out my Saturday morning fix in about 6 months. Mostly in College Park, but sometimes in faraway places, like Neckarau parkrun in Mannheim, Germany, or Rec Plex North parkrun in Pensacola, FL, or Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun in Madison, WI. Or the New Year’s double with Kensington parkrun. It has been great fun. But no run in College Park for me until Feb 29th. And only one weekend in a city with a parkrun at all. Have fun out there, and I’ll see you at the end of the month. (And if you’re following along on social media, I’ll be doing that from wherever I might be.)

To see our full photo album from this week, or from any week, visit our Flickr albums page.

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

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