Worth a Thousand Words (Run Report #162)

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not about to test that here, but this picture from College Park parkrun #162 is my favorite because of the stories that it holds.

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The scene is the Tunnel of Trees, possibly the prettiest stretch of the Paint Branch Trail at any time of year. And it’s at its fall peak, when the leaves make the light golden.

Heading towards us are the front of the pack runners. Sam Phipps is trying to outrun Steven Moore (it didn’t work), both pushing each other to fast times around 17 minutes. Sam always finishes and then stops around to cheer everybody else in, before typically running back home to Silver Spring. Steven had his whole family with him, and all four set PBs this week, with mom Amanda finishing to a gauntlet of high fives from her boys.

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Heading in the other direction is a small group of walkers. They’re accompanying Ellie Elliott, great grandma of Xander Mease, who is walking along the trail, pushing her own wheelchair, going as far as feels right this week.

Of course, both the folks at the front and the folks at the back are just as much a part of this community, and I’m pretty sure that Ellie got a lot more cheers when she reached the finish than the speedsters did.

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Happenings

It was an unusually cold morning for early November, with temps in the 20s when we loaded up our van to set out for Acredale Park. One of the things that has made Saturday mornings even more enjoyable this fall is that now Zoe always joins us and helps with setup before heading off to run.

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We figured that the cold would keep more people home, but we saw the largest ever November crowd at College Park parkrun.

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We had some big milestones to celebrate this week.

Duane Rosenberg and Dom Blom both joined the 100 club.

Duane became the first mayor in America to complete 100 parkruns. Duane is currently mayor of New Carrollton.

Dom became the latest member of Prince George’s Running Club to earn a black milestone shirt.

Teresa Perdomo did her 50th parkrun, just 14 months after she joined us for the first time! She and her friend Külli celebrated by running the trail together, then heading back out along the trail to meet up with the tailwalking crew and walk back with them. And then heading to The Board and Brew for a delicious brunch.

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Speaking of tailwalkers, we were very happy that this week’s tailwalker was new volunteer Ellen Oberholtzer and her tailwagger Eli. They made sure that everybody was safe, and that nobody else finished last. And Eli enjoyed making lots of new friends.

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A few people reached unofficial milestones this week …

Angel Cejo, Lorelis Gonzalez, Reece Madsen, and RJ Spalding all joined our unofficial 10-timer club.

Kevin Oriani and Zoe Phillips became 5 timers. That’s good going for Zoe, who completed the course for the first time on October 12th!

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Volunteers

The records show that there were 18 volunteers this week. You might think that there was a big crowd waiting in the park while everybody else was enjoying the trail. That’s not really how it worked.

We had just 4 people at the finish line while everybody else was out running and walking. I, Colin, was Run Director. That wasn’t in the plans originally, but taking the RD role ensured that I didn’t make myself more injured by joining the parkrun. Xinzi He was primary timekeeper. Xinzi took a fall at last week’s parkrun and quickly decided to volunteer this week to help her recovery along. Ginger Wilkerson led barcode scanning, while mom and dad were both running their 41st parkrun. And Kerry Callaghan volunteered (again!) as part of a UMD School of Public Health class that she’s taking.

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A few volunteers were out on the course. Hump and Lisa were in their regular marshal spots, welcoming you as you passed. Carlos Gough volunteered this week as Hump’s understudy. Ellen and Eli were tailwalkers.

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By the time the clock had clicked past 18:30 we had two more of our finish line crew. Brian Murphy and Tomas Marambio both sped around the course, took a moment to ring the PB bell, and then jumped in as volunteers. And a few minutes later Susan Whitney arrived and pulled on a volunteer vest to help out as third barcode scanner for the busiest part of the finish, from around 25-35 minutes.

While you were all finishing Evan Hirsche was volunteering as photographer. He’s resting up ahead of a marathon next weekend, and so he and barkrunner Sophie took a break from parkrunning and instead captured some great shots from the trail.

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Some more volunteers came into action at The Board and Brew, as Neil, Trace, Russell, and first-timer Boriana got all the tokens in order. As Run Director, it was my job to process the results, and normally this would be a bit slow and distracting. But thanks to the excellent volunteers and the joys of the parkrun Virtual Volunteer app, I set a results processing PB, and was able to enjoy chatting with lots of parkrunners and parkwalkers.

Friends, First-timers and Visitors

An extra shout out this week to The Board and Brew, who sold enough coffees that they put out a carafe of coffee for free refills for parkrunners. Be still my heart!

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And another caffeinated shout out. Our friends at Vigilante Coffee have given us free drink gift cards to give to deserving parkrunners. This week, in recognition of the coldest parkrun of the season so far, the volunteers were surprised with a Vigilante gift card. Thank you everybody!

We welcomed a few first timers and visitors this week. Some local, some not so local.

Cory Kind is not a first-timer, but she’s a visitor from Roosevelt Island parkrun in Washington DC. She decided that she wanted to run to all of the DC parkruns from her home base in Arlington. So this week she set out early to run the 12 miles to College Park. Then, impressively, she was 5th female finisher. After which she had earned a hearty breakfast!

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Greg Ervin is based in Ohio, but he tries to join us whenever he’s in town. In fact, he has come so many times that he’s practically a regular.

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Kim and Carlos are based in West Virginia, but they are in town and their friend Trace Huard told them about CP parkrun, so they came along to check what the fuss was about.

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Tricia Cecil was this week’s first female finisher and a first timer. It was only when I finished the results processing that I realized that I had met Tricia many years ago, when we were both budding triathletes. Neither of us are now, life is too complicated. But it was a cool blast from the past. Welcome Tricia!

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It was great to welcome Pamela and Pablo to CP parkrun for the first time. CP parkrun regular Jim Sebastian has known them for a long time, and he heard that they were looking to get in shape. So he recommended that they check out CP parkrun. We’re delighted that they joined us, and hope to see them again.

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More first-timers: Austin and Adrienne, together with their passengers (see the picture above). If Adrienne looks a little familiar, that’s because she’s a cousin of CP regular Tara Mease. They were with us this week together with Janet and great grandma Ellie.

PBs and other speediness

Lots of PBs to feel good about, too!

The fast guys were really moving this week. Steven Moore dipped under 17 minutes for the first time. Wow. Sam Phipps was so close to a PB. Brian Murphy and Tomas Marambio both set PBs.

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Rebecca White set another PB, walking the 5K in 1:10. We’re excited to see Rebecca progress, and we know there’s much more to come. She was joined this week by her son Joel, who also set a PB.

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For Mike McClellan it wasn’t a PB, but it was a big step over his walking time last week. Mike is recovering from spine surgery. Last week he walked the 5K in around 1:08. This week he was back with his two walking canes and he set off with determination, finishing in 56 minutes.

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Wayne Dunbar has now set 4 PBs in 4 visits to CP parkrun. And Celeste Pere has set a PB on almost all of her 9 parkruns!

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Andrew Widman’s string of PBs keeps getting longer. Now under 24 minutes!

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Maria Cecil put in a strong finish to duck under 31 minutes for the first time.

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Maureen Hewick returned for a third time, and took a few minutes from her walking PB. A few more weeks like this and she’ll be breathing down Judy Barnes’ neck!

Lorelis Gonzalez and Angel Cejo just keep on setting PBs. Out of 10 parkruns, they have set a PB or been within a second or two 9 times (see picture above).

Amy Rice set a nice new PB this week, possibly thanks to the enthusiasm of her barkrunner.

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Coming Attractions

Lots to look forward to. Still 4 more parkrun days this month!

  • Don’t forget about our special College Park parkrun Turkey Trot on Thursday 11/28. Usual 9am start time. Tell friends and family! Especially walkers.
  • Next Saturday, 11/16, we’ll be celebrating a few milestones. Xander and Tara Mease will be wearing the black sashes for their 100th parkrun. They started joining us when Xander was 4, and he recently reached the ripe old age of 7. Also, double milestone for Zoe Phillips — 10th parkrun AND 25th time volunteering. We’ll leave it to Zoe to figure out how to juggle the sash and the purple superhero cape.
  • Looking further ahead, mark your calendars for our 4th annual New Year’s Resolution parkrun on January 1st. College Park parkrun will start at the special late hour of 10:30am. And you have the option of doing an additional parkrun at 8:30am in Kensington or Leakin Park (Baltimore). Followed by a big community brunch at The Board and Brew.

See you soon! I’m looking forward to running again soon, if this pesky achilles injury will go away.

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

P.S. Oops. The run report came in at more than a thousand words

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Comeback Kids (Run Report #161)

A cool morning turned into a perfect day for a run or walk in the park! We had 99 finishers on the 161st running of our beloved College Park parkrun. It continues to be my favorite running event and something I look forward to week after week. It’s great to have a no-pressure, friendly jog or walk in the park with a wonderful community that is completely free! Here are some of the stories and milestones achieved this week.

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We had several “comeback kids” this time. Our parkrunners are not immune from injuries and ailments that keep them sidelined for a week or more. We are always thrilled to see them come back.

This week saw the return of Mike McClellan and Rebecca White after several months, with Rebecca marking her return with a PB! Mike is recovering from spine surgery, and he wasn’t sure how far he would get along the trail. So of course he went the whole 5K. It took him 30 minutes longer than his PB, but it was a mighty impressive achievement.

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Katie Hirsche returned after an almost two-month stint of volunteering (thanks!) to get a new PB of sorts as well. She enjoyed her first walking parkrun, which I encourage everyone to try. You get to enjoy the scenery and smiling faces for double the time of a typical run at no extra cost!

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We shared the trail with WABA’s Cider Ride. Lots more traffic on the trail, but all went off without incident. Thanks to all who called out warnings of passing riders.

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We also welcomed several first timers. Doug Dicks visited us from Indiana with newly local daughter Ashley. Their friend Cole Griffin visited from New Jersey. Other first timers included Haimei Jin and Charlene Shortte. Please join us again! You will be a regular before you know it.

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Thomas Parsons made his family the first to have four 50-timer shirts to keep track of and long-time College Park parkrunner Trace Huard made it to 50 as well. Congratulations, gents!

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Unofficial milestones include 5-timer James Whitehead who has come five weeks in a row and 10-timers Annika Dallmann and Kristen Wares who also got a PB. Dinah Cohen is now half-way to 50. It happens before you know it!

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Other PBs (there were plenty due in part to the perfect weather): Keri Pierce (after 41 parkruns!), Alanna Kempton cut seven minutes at age seven, Cirílio Perez is four-for-four with parkrun PBs and Natasha Oliviera has had five in a row! Angel Cejo and Lorelis Gonzalez both running their 9th have PBs almost every time.

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Finally, a thanks to those who made it happen this week: the volunteers! We had an almost-all-new finish line crew this week with Anna Damm and Violet Ridge both scanning for the first time and Cotter Rosenberg working as one of our timers. We had a great time at the finish with timer Brian Murphy and Catherine Madsen doing finish tokens. Duane Rosenberg and Russell Dickerson gamely sorted tokens and  Anna Tinnemore served as tail-walker.

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Colin Philips, Zoe Phillips, Hump Plotts, Lisa Wilson and Adrea Zukowski all did their regular part in serving as the backbone of this event.

It can’t happen without the wonderful volunteers. Try it! It’s fun!

Some coming attractions:

  • Lots more people to celebrate (of course!). This week four parkrunners completed their 99th parkrun, so it’s time to dust off the black sash. Duane Rosenberg and Dom Blom will be wearing black on Nov 9th, and Tara and Xander Mease on Nov 16th.
  • We have six parkrun days in November, so five more still to go!
  • And one of them is on Thanksgiving morning. Join us for the friendliest, freest turkey trot in all of College Park.

I very much enjoyed my 11th time as run director and look forward to participating again in the coming weeks. Run, walk, volunteer! We have something for everyone.

Clark Ridge

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Pirate parrrrkrun! (Run Report #160)

College Park parkrun #160 was special because it was the parkrun before Halloween. Thanks to everyone who showed up in costume!

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As a pirate-wannabe, I am happy to report that if you add up all the miles that we have covered in our College Park parkruns, we have circumnavigated the globe, not once, but TWICE!  That’s some mighty fine sailin’. Or runnin’.

The parkrunner who completed our second circumnavigation by finishing 104th, becoming the 16,030th finisher, came part way around the globe to join us. Lucy Parr visited this week from Yorkshire, England, together with mom Rebecca, dad Andrew, and brother George. The family normally does their parkrunning at Penistone parkrun. But for Lucy it was her first ever full 5K parkrun. Way to start out in style, Lucy!

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I was hoping for 160 parkrunners on Saturday for our 160th parkrun - and I thought we had it, until the sorting of the tokens proved that we were ONE token short!  If you have token #45, please bring it back. No questions asked! You will not have to walk the plank!

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Saturday’s parkrun had many milestones to celebrate, so let’s just get to it!

We celebrated our biggest group yet of official milestones.

  • 50-timers: Jim Cantwell, Sharlene Deskins, Neil Jograj, and Carly Mills
  • 100-timer: Steve Feld
  • 25th time volunteer: Cindy Feld

Steve and Cindy enjoyed their return to College Park. They first joined us on a rainy Christmas Eve in 2016. Steve was looking for a 5K race to complete his quest to do a race in every month, and found College Park parkrun. With miserable weather, it was our quietest day ever, with only 25 finishers. But Steve loved it! They kept coming back, becoming regular volunteers and team members. At the start of this year they moved to North Carolina to be closer to family. Now they’re regulars at Durham, NC parkrun. But they were happy to return to their “parkrun birthplace” for this milestone.

Jim and Carly both achieved the feat of setting a PB in their 50th parkrun. Nice!

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Congratulations to the following people for reaching these unofficial parkrun milestones:

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5-timers: Daniel Coile, Mariella McElhenny, Ed Pachico, Gwyneth McElhenny, and Theresa Catterton-Doherty

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10-timers: Kathy McFalls, Louis Green, and William Grunow

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25-timers: Brian Koen and Laurie Fisher

The parkrun bell didn’t stop ringing because of all the PBs!

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It’s impressive to see 10-year old Violet finishing as 2nd female. She has come a LONG way since she started running with us in 2017.

Jessica Gerbig continues to get faster while pushing a stroller.

Kathy McFalls is making great progress — she has gone from high 40s to almost cracking 40 minutes.

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Reese Madsen went from 41 to 38 minutes. Impressive!

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Zoe Phillips — 2 minute PB. Dad can only dream of that!

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Natasha Oliviera — quietly getting faster week by week. This was her 4th consecutive PB!

And Clarence Patterson has had 3 PB’s in three parkruns!

The things I like most about College Park parkrun, besides getting to wear my pirate hat, is the encouragement and camaraderie among friends and family. On Saturday, Chris Pruitt stormed around in 16-something. That’s pretty impressive, but what is really awesome is that his kids, Kara and Cole, finished their FIRST EVER 5K.

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Whether you are finishing at the head of the pack, or finishing your 5K at your pace, getting out and having fun on the trail is what we’re all about.

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Finally, I have to give a “shout-out” to all of the volunteers who helped on Saturday to make College Park parkrun #160 a huge success:

  • Golf course marshals: Hump Plotts and Matt Green
  • Turn around marshal:  Lisa Wilson
  • First Timers Briefing: Amy Duan  - Amy had her hands full with 22 first timers!  Wow!
  • Timekeepers: Erin Munsell (congrats on your marathon!!), Clare Imholtz
  • Finish Tokens: Cindy Feld
  • Barcode Scanners: Larry Washington, Tomas Marambio, and Janet Tate
  • Tail Walkers: Teresa Perdomo and Külli Crespin
  • Finish Line Photography: Katie Hirsche
  • Setup and Breakdown: Zoe Phillips
  • Token Sorters: Cotter Rosenberg, Duane Rosenberg, Alex Dystant, and Andrew, George and Lucy Parr.

If you’d like to wear a yellow vest and lend a hand at a parkrun, please reach out and let us know.

We're looking forward now to November parkruns. There's a lot to look forward to, as November will be our first ever month with SIX parkruns: that's 5 Saturdays plus our special extra Thanksgiving morning parkrun.

Lori Dominick

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140 Flags (Run Report #159)

To celebrate the third birthday of College Park parkrun we decorated cakes and pumpkin pies with a flag for each College Park parkrunner who has reached a parkrun milestone over the past 3 years.

There were 140 flags in all. They filled 6 cakes. We really did not expect there to be so many.

  • 70 red 50 shirts
  • 41 white 10 shirts (for juniors)
  • 11 black 100 shirts
  • 18 purple V25 shirts (for volunteering)

We’re grateful to Andrea, Hump, and Misha for baking cakes and pies. And to Andrea, and to my parents, Kath and Derrick Phillips, for helping to make all the flags. Making the flags turned out to be quite fun, as each name gave a chance to think about the person and their story and how they came to be a part of this community.

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We had Thanksgiving-themed pumpkin pie to go along with Andrea’s theme of “gratitude” for the anniversary event. At her pre-parkrun briefing Andrea thanked many different people who have helped to build the community over the past 3 years.

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PBpalooza!

Among this week’s 163 finishers were **47** PBs. We were sure that must be a record for CP parkrun. But not quite. There were 48 PBs on Sept 15th last year. … And there’s a connection.

About half of this week’s PBs came from the DeMatha High School cross-country team, who joined us for the second time this week. We didn’t know that they would be coming -- at parkrun you just show up (with a barcode) -- but we were happy to see them. They previously ran with us on 8/31, and their training must have been working out well, as almost all of them were faster this time out.

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The day with 48 PBs was similar. It was when Elizabeth Seton High School cross-country team made a return visit a few weeks after a pre-season time trial.

Among the DeMatha PBs was Ian Parsons, who dipped under 20 minutes for the first time, on his 76th parkrun. Nice job, Ian! Ian’s older brother Thomas didn’t quite reach his PB, but it was his 49th parkrun, so next time out he earns a nice red parkrun 50 shirt.

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Jayden Keels almost lost his age-group record last week to middle-schooler Nathan Widman. So this week he went out and took another minute from his record. The 11-14 record is now 18:06. Wow.

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And kudos to Stephen Camarano, who first joined us in early 2017. This week he not only set another PB, he also did his 9th parkrun. So next time out he earns a white parkrun 10 shirt.

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I cannot deny that I was feeling pretty good about the three PBs from Team Phillips. Zoe and his grandparents ALL set PBs this week. My parents have been traveling in Montana and Wyoming since they visited us one month ago. So it was probably the altitude training that made the difference!

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Ada Lee was impressive, taking a whole minute from her PB on her 27th parkrun.

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And Frank Filteau must be doing something right, as after two years without a PB, he has set a new PB twice in the past couple of weeks. That’s after 131 parkruns.

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Kudos to Jessica Gerbig, who achieved a rare feat. On her 17th visit to CP parkrun she beat the PB that she set waaaay back in our first event, 3 years ago. Better yet, this PB was set pushing a stroller. Normally we’re unsure whether an earlier time was set with/without a stroller. But in this case we’re fairly confident, as the PB is substantially older than the stroller passenger.

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And it’s not just the speed demons who were setting PBs this week. Judy Cantwell and her friend Ana Rivera joined us for the second time this week. We’re not sure whether they were concerned about PBs, but they both walked faster this time than last time out.

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And Reese Madsen and Elizabeth Cooper both had the distinction of setting a 1-second PB on their 7th time with us. Every little counts!

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First-timers and Visitors

There were 14 first-timers this week, to add to the nearly 2,500 people who have taken part in College Park parkrun since we started.

Kerry Callaghan has already volunteered a few times, but this was her first time running the course. She’s part of the crew from UMD’s School of Public Health that is trying out different roles at the event over the course of the semester. It turns out that Kerry’s a fairly speedy runner!

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Harvey Baker is the new Chief of Police in the Town of University Park. A couple of days ago he was quietly going about his business in town when he found Andrea, out on one of her nature walks. By some complete coincidence College Park parkrun came up in the conversation, and Andrea talked Harvey into joining us. We were very happy that he came along, together with his wife Zanetta. We hope that they will join us again!

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One of our first-timers this week brought along a first-time barkrunner. Hector Serra is another of the UMD SPH crew, and his mom Hilda came along this week, together with what one parkrunner described as “the perfect dog”. Welcome both!

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The DeMatha boys might have accounted for most of the earlier finishers this week, but it was first-timer Karen Kautz who hit the highest age-graded run of the day. Karen is in the 75-79 age group and she proceeded to take *12 minutes* from the previous age-group record, finishing in slightly over 30 minutes. Wow.

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Unusually for us, we had THREE parkrun tourists from the UK this week. Brothers Chris and John Smyth have done over 200 parkruns between them in the London area. This week they were visiting their cousin Maureen who lives in Bowie, MD. So imagine their good luck to find that CP parkrun was nearby. And they persuaded Maureen to come along too, and she enjoyed a walk on the trail with my mum.

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We also had a visit from Rachel Brown, who is based in Littleport, near Cambridge, UK. I know that part of the world fairly well, as it’s close to where I grew up. Let’s just say that our course may have seemed hilly compared to that area.

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One more visitor came as a very pleasant surprise. Vancouverite Susan H. has joined us a good few times over the past 2 summers while working at NASA. So she had never visited in the months with nicer weather. She is in DC for a short stay and she heard that it was our birthday, so she biked out from DC to join us. So good to see her again!

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Volunteers

Amy Duan tried out a new volunteer role this week, leading the first-timers briefing. This is a good role to try out if you want to volunteer and also run. Main role: make sure that everybody feels as welcome as possible.

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Debbie Levenson and Chris and Sam McGranahan have volunteered many times before -- they have been part of the CP parkrun team since the very beginning. It’s great to have their experience on hand. Sam tried out timekeeping with the parkrun Virtual Volunteer app. We’re hoping to switch more and more to using that, so that we can eventually dispense with dedicated hardware and wired connections. Garrett Day and Hector Serra were the UMD SPH volunteers this week. And Tomas Marambio wisely decided to volunteer instead of running this week, as he recovers from last week’s Chicago Marathon (big PB!).

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Misha Bernard and Külli Crespin were our tailwalkers and smile catchers. Abdur Rahman-Quadri also brought along his camera and took some great shots. Hump and Lisa expertly carried out the roles of being Hump and Lisa. Nobody does it better. Cotter Rosenberg, Alex Dystant, and Russ Dickerson sorted tokens while sipping coffee.

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And Andrea Zukowski led the show as Run Director for the umpteenth time. She thanked everybody else, and we all owe big thanks to Andrea for taking the initiative to create College Park parkrun.

What’s happening soon?

October 26th: We’re expecting a few milestones to celebrate in the coming weeks. As of now there are 6 CP parkrunners who have done 49 parkruns, and this week 4 people did their 97th.

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One celebration that is in store for next week is a double milestone for Steve and Cindy Feld. Steve and Cindy first joined us around the end of 2016 and became key members of the community, running and volunteering so many times. They later retired and moved to North Carolina, to be closer to family. But they will be back with us next week, when Steve will complete his 100th run, and Cindy will be volunteering for the 25th time. Yay!

November 3rd: yes, that’s a Sunday. We’ll be holding a meetup in the afternoon for parkrun teams from around the DMV region, to discuss ways that we can build on the existing parkrun communities to do more to serve the region, including new events, new connections, and broader collaboration. If you would like to take part, please drop me an email. My address is firstname.lastname@parkrun.com.

November 28th: Thanksgiving parkrun! Freest, friendliest turkey trot in the area.

January 1st: New Years parkrun. At the special time of 10:30am. Kensington parkrun will be going ahead at 8:30am, and you can do both if you are so inclined!

So much to look forward to!

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

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Worth Waiting For (Run Report #158)

A few really cool things happened this past parkrunday, October 12th 2019.

  • We completed the third year of College Park parkrun, our 158th event
  • We welcomed surprisingly many visitors, and hosted the parkrun USA Ambassaddors conference
  • Evan Hirsche zoomed down the trail to capture some amazing pictures for our photo album
  • 3-year old Mary Clare Schneider completed her first 5k under her own steam (unofficial, as you need to be 4 to have your own barcode), and we all melted
  • We enjoyed lovely early Fall weather
  • Zoe Phillips was one of 21 first-timers at College Park parkrun

... Few things better illustrate the fact that there are barriers to physical activity and that a supportive community can overcome it than Zoe’s story. And for me and Andrea, few experiences have been more rewarding than seeing Zoe take part this week.

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Really nobody has had a closer view of the development of College Park parkrun than Zoe. After all, Andrea and I are Zoe’s parents. And Zoe has volunteered many times before. CP parkrun is a safe place for Zoe. But between gender identity and mental and neurological challenges, organized sports has not seemed like the most inviting place.

But Zoe recently started running for health (and for school), and also started coming regularly to volunteer at CP parkrun. By volunteering regularly, Zoe got to know more people at the event, and spent time soaking up the welcoming vibe. This brought the confidence to take part as a runner.

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At the finish, Zoe declared: “I have never been cheered by so many people in my whole life!” And was filled with a glow of satisfaction. Running again next week? Absolutely!

We are thrilled to welcome all first timers, but I must admit this one was rather special for us. And we are so grateful to you all for creating the atmosphere that made Zoe feel very welcome.

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… and that’s not all. After 3 years of parkruns, we also welcomed for the first time our almost next door neighbors the Jackson family. They are like a second family to Zoe, and they have been following our Saturday morning activities from the very start. AND we also welcomed Kim Lopez, our lovely new across-the-street neighbor. It was like a block party!

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And not forgetting that Marvin Russell and Judy Barnes, our up the street neighbors who we met only through parkrun, BOTH set new PBs on their 114th and 80th parkruns, respectively. That’s impressive! For Judy, who is a very fast walker, it was her first time finishing under 40 minutes. Andrea was running to keep up.

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Three Years In

The first College Park parkrun was on October 15th 2016, so this was the final event of Year 3, event #158.

The participation totals for Year 3 are the biggest that we have seen so far, and almost double the numbers from Year 1..

  • 54 events
  • 1,292 runners and walkers completed 6,737 5Ks
  • 173 people volunteered 811 times
  • 957 new members of the community got a parkrun barcode

In total, CP parkrunners have now together covered almost 50,000 miles, that’s twice around the earth. Over 2,500 different people have taken part as runners and walkers, and 325 have volunteered.

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We are especially encouraged that College Park parkrun continues to grow in diversity. This year we welcomed many more walkers and walk-runners than last year. And we’re seeing more people from more backgrounds join us.

We are excited to see what Year 4 will bring!

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parkrun USA Ambassadors Meeting

Among this week’s first-timers were two people who I was especially happy to welcome to the Paint Branch Trail. I first met Laura Cornelissen and Drew Messinger in a hotel lobby in Boston MA on a snowy day in early 2017. They wanted to chat about starting a parkrun in Boston. We had recently done something similar in College Park, so we had a lot to talk about.

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One year later Laura presided over the launch of Jamaica Pond parkrun, the first parkrun in New England. I closely followed the process of getting the event started, as I was acting as the parkrun “ambassador” for the event. The Ambassadors are volunteers who help out with parkrun above the level of individual events.

In 2019 Laura and Drew got married in Worcester, UK, and their JP parkrun friends were there, taking in an extra parkrun, of course. And this week they were in town because they’re now helping out as parkrun USA ambassadors themselves, looking to support the further growth of parkrun communities in New England. Drew sped around our course, with Clark Ridge for company. And Laura took a more measured stroll, as she’s getting rather pregnant. So much to be happy about!

The ambassadors group (about 20 in number) fanned out across the various different DC-area parkruns. Most of them had visited College Park before, so they wanted to try out another one. But all met up at The Board and Brew afterwards. It was great to see a big crowd of locals and visitors chatting away.

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It was especially good to see Rory Murphy back in TB&B. He was a regular at CP in his first year in the US, later moving to start Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore, and now Delaware & Raritan Canal parkrun in New Jersey, with more on the way.

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Then it was off to UMD for a weekend of interesting discussions with dedicated parkrun volunteers, looking closely at the continued growth of parkrun in the US and how to ensure safety, stability, and scalability as the growth continues. When we started meeting on the Paint Branch Trail in early 2016 the 5th US parkrun event had just started downtown at Fletcher’s Cove. Next weekend (10/26) Andrea will be away in Knoxville, TN supporting the launch of Third Creek Greenway parkrun, the 42nd US event. And there are many more in the works.

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Visitors

We don’t normally see many visitors at CP parkrun. It’s our special secret. But this week we had quite a few. In addition to the ambassadors …

Chris and Leonie McNeill visited us from Australia, where they normally do their parkrunning at Jells parkrun near Melbourne.

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Closer to home, we were happy to welcome back Vivienne, Natalie, and Autumn Miller from Leakin Park parkrun. What brought them to town? Vivienne’s brother Euan is responsible for parkrun Canada and he was in town for the conference, and so it was a great chance for a meetup with his nieces.

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Team Ross-Coomes, Stephanie, Ian, and Henry were with us all the way from Kensington parkrun. Henry first visited us when he was barely 2 weeks old, so it was good to see him back on the trail.

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And Sharon Bollers brought along her mom Joy, from Guyana, for a nice walk on the trail. Wonderful!

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And Imogen Davidson White took me by surprise by appearing unexpectedly. Imogen worked with me at UMD about ten years ago. She has been living and working in Prague for most of the time since then. But she was in town briefly, staying with an old friend who happens to be a parkrunner. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her before the start.

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And more …

3-year old Mary Clare completed the entire 5K under her own steam. Adorable!

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Countless people set new PBs. Including Nathan Widman, who left almost all of the grownups in the dust, improving his time to 19:14. And Nathan’s dad Andrew, who set his 6th consecutive PB!

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We were super happy to welcome Sahana Jayaraman as a first-time parkrunner this week. Last week she was with us working on her article for The Diamondback. She enjoyed that so much that she wanted to come back and run with us. Perfect!

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We had one milestone this week: Julian Gordon joined the 10 club. Nice job, Julian!

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And we had a wonderful crew of volunteers … of course. Lisa Wilson, Hump Plotts, Xinzi He and Kerry Callaghan were out on the trail. At the finish Darrell Stanaford, Svetlana Stanaford, Sma McGranahan, Debbie Levenson, and Saul Goldberg kept things running smoothly, under the watchful eye of run director for the day Chris McGranahan. And Evan Hirsche took some fantastic photos along the trail, which you can enjoy in our photo album here.

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Thank you to all! We’re very much looking forward to this week’s 3rd birthday celebration at College Park parkrun #159. Rumors of cake (or pumpkin pie, or both) may be accurate.

Colin

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