Deep Freeze (Run Report #65)

College Park parkrun #65 saw our smallest turnout in many months, but for the 42 parkrunners who came along it was one that they won’t forget in a hurry. It was cold. Very cold.  At 9am it was 10 degrees F, with the windchill making it feel like -4F. Easily the coldest temps we have ever had for a parkrun in College Park. The second coldest parkrun was just 5 days earlier at our New Years Day event.

As the “bomb cyclone” sucked down arctic air masses from the north, half of parkrun USA events were forced to cancel. We went ahead in College Park because the snow on the trail was solid underfoot, and because we could bring a vehicle close to the start to help keep the volunteers warm(-ish) during the run.


The volunteers were the main story of the day. They didn’t get to run, so they didn’t get to warm up. And despite the small number of parkrunners we had one of our highest number of volunteers ever. A total of 5 people offered to be tail walker this week. We encouraged two to try another day, and went ahead with 3 tail walkers, to ensure that there would be strength in numbers at the back of the pack. Thank you to Diana Gough, Julie Russell, and Enrique Jograj! We were concerned that Lisa and Hump might get too cold standing along as marshals, but they assured us that the show should go on. Thank you both! Lisa did concede afterwards that she was starting to get a little cold. At the finish line, JJ Su, Bernard Kelly, Tony San, and Mike Heitzmann took care of the timing, scanning, and suchlike. Thank you! Andrea Zukowski was run director, and she outdid herself in giving our shortest run briefing ever. Pam Marcus came along as backup volunteer and safety officer. When she saw that Andrea was getting too cold, she dispatched her to a warm van to thaw out and took over. John Ramsey had the unique volunteer role of “hand warmer elf”. Thanks to John for visiting REI on Friday and sourcing a box to keep us warm. And thanks to Dale Morey and Anna Tinnemore for having warm enough hands afterwards to sort finisher tokens.


With the extreme conditions, it was the die-hards who came along. Unusually, we didn’t have any new 5-timers or 10-timers this week, because almost everybody present had already done at least 10 College Park parkruns. Just as unusually, we had 3 people who ran their 25th time with us this week: Diana Gough, Lisa Parsons, and Steve Feld. We can see red 50-parkrun shirts in prospect for each of these in 2018. Our 3 first-timers included Cotter Rosenberg, who came along with his dad, Duane Rosenberg. Megan Palmer and Jonathan Garcia were our other two first-timers. What a day to visit us for the first time. We promise that it will be warmer next time. A special mention is also due to Nancy Gant, the only PB of the day, beating the time that she ran on her first outing, just 5 days earlier. If Nancy can run a PB on a day like this, we suspect that there’s more to come.


While almost everybody wrapped up warm, it should be noted for the record that 3 people ran in shorts: Clark Ridge, Jack Kammerer, and Hans Meurer. Just don’t try this at home, kids.


Much more sensibly, 20 joined us for a nice warm cup of coffee afterwards at The Board and Brew. Now that is a smart move.


Aside from the frigid parkrun, we had one piece of exciting news this week. We heard from the UK that Kensington parkrun has been approved to officially launch on March 24th, running on a double out-and-back route on the Rock Creek Trail. Trial runs will start on February 3rd, and will continue through to the official launch, and on January 27th we’ll have a special day for Kensington parkrunners. Congratulations to Pam Marcus and to the rest of the Kensington team, all of whom are familiar faces at College Park. We can’t wait to visit!

Speaking of things that we can’t wait for, rumor has it that by next Saturday there will be no snow on the ground and temperatures will be above freezing. See you at 9am. Don’t forget your barcode.

Colin Phillips