We have overseen 22 official parkruns on the Paint Branch Trail since our launch in October. No two are ever the same. What does this have to do with wombats? Jackie French wrote a lovely little children's book about living with and learning from wombats ("How to Scratch a Wombat"). One take-away from the book is that even if you have lots of experience with wombats and think you know it all, they are unpredictable and will throw you some curveballs, and the best you can do when that happens is to improvise.
Our curveball at this week's parkrun? This week's turn-around marshals, who had never been to our parkrun before, put down the turn-around cone at 1.3 km. The improviser-in-chief? This week's First Finisher and stalwart College Park parkrunner, Clark Ridge. Luckily Clark is as quick a thinker as he is a runner. He snatched up the cone as he flew past the marshals, carried it up to the actual turn-around, and shouted out "turn around at the cone!" to all the people he passed en route to the finish. The next time you see Clark, thank him for single-handedly saving the day for 48 parkrunners, including 13 who had their hard-earned PBs duly recorded. You guys are the best.
Speaking of wombats, this week we welcomed parkrun tourist Greg Brown from Brisbane, Australia (Augustine Heights parkrun) for his 103rd parkrun, and almost certainly his coldest. Nice meeting you, Greg! Also among our visitors were Nicole and Alex Brown. Nicole is working on fundraising to start up a new parkrun back home in Richmond, VA (Deep Run parkrun). College Park was Nicole's first ever official parkrun, but she has deep ties in her family; this week her parents Peter and Cecily Loots ran their 72nd and 60th parkruns at their home parkrun location: Uvongo parkrun, which overlooks the Indian Ocean in South Africa. (If you've been shoveling snow today, you might not want to look at their course page.) After the run, Nicole rendezvous-ed at or usual hangout at The Board & Brew with parkrun USA director Darrell Stanaford, which also gave Sveta Stanaford (one of the Event Directors of Roosevelt Island DC parkrun), her first chance to try out the Paint Branch Trail. This week's newcomers also included Joe and Alexander Limarzi. If you're a local, you might know Joe from his basketball coaching. Welcome to you all! Visitors and new first timers are another reason that no two parkruns are ever alike.
This week Crystal Bergemann was dubbed "Parkrunner of the Month" for March, and she celebrated by besting her previous PB by 1 important second. Lisa Chilcote set today's one age-category record (her 3rd PB in 3 visits!). In fact many of you seem to be getting faster. Gus Campbell bested his previous PB by 4 seconds (and now has 19 parkruns under his belt!). Nick Huang logged a huge PB on his 10th parkrun. Andy Fellows and Dustyn Kujawa are both a few minutes faster than they were when they first started, and our own Colin Phillips has gotten faster at every parkrun he has done since Christmas Eve.
We couldn't be more pleased at how many of you have become parkrun regulars. 5 more people joined our unofficial College Park 5 club this week: Sharlene Deskins, Steve Feld, Michelle Hermanson, Jane Hopkins, and Dustyn Kujawa. At the rate you all are racking up the weeks, we are going to have to inaugurate an unofficial College Park 25 club soon!
We have more volunteers than usual to thank this week, thanks to our second visit from members of UMd's Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity. Thank you Kaila Blevins, Tanner Chastain, Emma Howard, Robert Hopkins, Lauren Kerlin, Diana and Carlos Gough (and Ruby), Sabrina Pasta, Colin Phillips, Hugo Santos, Samantha Wilkins, and Lisa Wilson.
What's in store in the coming weeks?
This Saturday, March 18th: we’ll have guests from the American Cancer Society, a key parkrun USA partner. Goal: discuss ways that College Park parkrun can contribute to cancer prevention in our community.
April 1st: UMD Good Neighbor Day is partnering with parkrun. Come do parkrun at 9AM, and then come plant trees near our start/finish area at 10AM. This project is supervised by PG Parks/M-NCPPC. We’ll be there. Register at the link above if you’d like to join the fun (choose the parkrun/treeplanting project; you won't need to do the GN Day activities happening at the College Park Community Center before/after the tree planing—although you're welcome to, if you would like to).
May 6th: College Park 5k at 8am at City Hall. Followed by College Park parkrun at 9am. Anybody interested in doing both?
We will give the final word this week to Crystal Bergemann, in honor of her award this month. "Why do you keep coming back to parkrun?" we asked her.
"There are so many reasons I like parkrun, but I especially like that it's a really friendly and fun way to make sure I have some exercise planned into my week."