College Park parkrun #146 was undoubtedly the hottest we have experienced since we started meeting every Saturday on the Paint Branch Trail in early 2016. The forecast was for 90 degrees and high humidity at start time, with a heat index pushing towards 100 degrees.
Lots of barcodes were wilting in the heat, too
It was also notable for a special milestone for Andrea Zukowski, our event founder and co-Event Director. When she first discovered parkrun in 2014, and wished we had this in our community, she was able to do a couple of parkruns a year, on family trips to the UK. It was going to take her until age 99 to join the 100 club. But thanks to her initiative, and thanks also to the wonderful volunteer culture that means that she gets to walk or run most weeks, she reached her 100th parkrun some way ahead of her 99th birthday.
We seriously considered canceling due to the excessive heat warning. A couple of the DC-area events did cancel, lacking shade to protect the parkrunners and the volunteers. But thanks to much sharing of ideas among the DMV parkrun crew, we came up with a list of precautions that would help to keep everybody safe.
- We encouraged everyone to slow right down and try to set a PW - personal worst. The bell was a PW bell for the day, too.
- We moved the start/finish area into the shade closer to the stream, and came with THREE canopies to provide additional shade. The shade at Acredale Park is improving thanks in part to trees that YOU planted over the past couple of years.
- We encouraged everyone to hydrate well, and we brought along additional tubs of water for the day. Including an emergency jug at the turnaround.
- Andrea walked and she encouraged others to join her. Leading by example!
- Lisa and Joyce had the wonderful idea of bringing along popsicles. Thank you!
- We had additional eyes and ears out on the trail looking out for safety.
- We encouraged folks with greater heat sensitivity to stay home and wait for next week.
We’re happy to report that it worked well. 106 parkrunners safely completed the course, and we estimated that a third of participants set PWs. Slowing things down really helped, nobody appeared distressed, and folks were happy to hang out in the shade afterwards to chat with friends, enjoy treats, and cheer in everybody else.
We celebrated two more official milestones, in addition to Andrea’s 100. Maria Cecil reached the 50 milestone, and she looked great in the red 50 sash. We really appreciate that Maria and her family make the journey over to College Park to be a part of our community. They now have three 50-clubbers in the family, so we wish them well on keeping track of the different red shirts in the laundry.
Yancira Amaya wore the purple superhero cape, for volunteering for the 25th time. This week Yancira was scanning barcodes. In the past couple of weeks she has been Run Director and given the first-timers briefing. We are so grateful for the many ways that Yancira contributes to our community, as a runner, volunteer, and as a welcoming presence.
One of the highlights of the day came when a large group moved on to The Board and Brew. There we were joined by our much loved course marshal Hump Plotts, who came to join Andrea’s 100th parkrun celebration. Hump has been poorly lately, and so it means a lot that he came out to join us. Best wishes for a continued recovery, Hump!
Together with our post-parkrun coffee we enjoyed a rather tasty cake that Svetlana Stanaford brought along for Andrea. Svetlana and Darrell Stanaford drove down from Baltimore to join us. And Darrell achieved the minor distinction of finishing in 85th position, making him the 14,000th finisher at CP parkrun. … That’s a lot of free 5Ks that Andrea set in motion.
There were very few first-timers this week, unsurprisingly. One of them, Simon Webster, is a parkrun tourist normally based at Roundshaw Downs parkrun on the southern edge of London. Simon has done a lot of parkruns, but he had little doubt that this was the hottest that he had ever completed.
We love it when folks enjoy parkrun enough that they keep coming back to the community.
This week’s new 5-timers included Celeste Pere, Neha Joshi, and Nicholas Hall.
Susan H joined us for the 10th time. Susan is an unlikely -- but extremely welcome -- regular at CP parkrun, because she lives thousands of miles away. Variously based in Vancouver, Canada and Strasbourg, France she was working at NASA the past two summers, discovered us through a friend of a friend, and has been joining us whenever she’s in town.
Meanwhile, Alyssa Heintzelmann became a 25-timer this week. She and her dad Dave smartly chose to just enjoy an easy walk together this week. We hear that Alyssa recently graduated high school and will be heading off to college soon, but we hope she’ll continue to join us when she’s in town.
A couple of other returns or surprises this week …
First, many of you saw that Neil Jograj completed last week’s parkrun in a wheelchair. He wasn’t able to cover the course on foot, but he did not want to miss out on joining us. We were really pleased to see him completing the course bipedally again this week. We’ll take you however we can have you, Neil!
Second, we welcomed back Keaton Ellis from Australia, where he was representing the US at the world Rubik’s Cube championship. Yes, that’s a thing. And we hear that Keaton is definitely a thing in that world. He’s a pretty speedy runner, but he’s an insanely speedy cuber. Keaton also snuck in a little bit of parkrun tourism while down under. He called in at Mosman parkrun, which overlooks Sydney Harbor … and just happens to be led by UMD grad Mary Botto. You never know where you might come across a fellow Terp.
Third, we were surprised and very pleased to see Xander and Tara join us this week for their 86th parkrun together. As many of you know Xander runs to help manage his cystic fibrosis (... and because we’re kinda fun). But one of the consequences of CF is that the world can seem like a much hotter place. So in the past Xander has had to run indoors on the treadmill when things get really warm. But apparently a new treatment that he has been taking makes a big difference to his ability to get active outdoors in the summer. New treatments take a long time to develop, but this shows that Xander’s CF fundraisers, which many of you have supported in the past, really do make a difference.
Xander didn't get an all-time Personal Worst. But he did his slowest time since he was barely 5-years old. That's good enough for us.
As ususal we had a wonderful crew of volunteers making everything go ahead without a hitch. Some were volunteering for the first time, others are regulars. It’s always a rotating cast of different community members, and it just works.
Lisa Wilson was in her usual spot, and Danny Walker continued his stint as Hump’s replacement marshal. He’s got the beard, the red truck and the coffee. But as he ramps up the mileage for marathon training he’s clearly not the Real Hump. Thanks Danny!
Sisters Erin Munsell and Carly Mills took care of timing. They came over after already having completed the MCRRC Matthew Henson 5K at 7:30am. Judy Mulusa and Yancira Amaya handled tokens and barcodes. Jackie and Kayla Hayes were additional safety marshals on the trail, while Barbara Gusack brought up the rear as tailwalker. Gus Campbell sorted tokens, and Adrian Dover and Stewart Mayhew helped get everything set up and taken down.
I basically stood around and did a lot of talking and cheering. And Andrea did the many things that she always does. We are so fortunate that a few years ago she went way out of her comfort zone to get this started for all of us. And she was just thrilled to see so many friends join us this week, even in the strong heat.
Here she is right after receiving her 100-club notification email.
And below are some of our Personal Worst achievers this week. Congratulations, all!
We're not sure whether to count Sam's Personal Worst. He arrived a couple of minutes late (... a result of smartly slowing down on his 5 mile run to parkrun), and then proceeded to pass all but two people. You may have noticed him zipping by on the trail!