Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, because the focus is on bringing family and friends together. Ok, and we also like the cooking and eating, and we sometimes regret how much we enjoyed that part.
The other thing that we like is that Thanksgiving is the most popular day for running events IN THE WORLD. More than one million Americans take part in running events on Thanksgiving morning, via a thousand or more turkey trot events.
Everybody seems to agree that the turkey trot tradition dates back to the Buffalo YMCA Thanksgiving race, which started way back in 1896. It had 6 finishers the first year and nowadays participation is capped at 14,000. It has been operating continuously for longer than the Boston Marathon (est. 1897).
Various factors are credited for the success of turkey trots. One that often comes up is the warm, community vibe. They’re local, they’re fun, they’re about taking part rather than winning. They’re more of an annual family tradition than a bucket list item to train for once.
That’s where CP parkrun comes in. Those things that people like about turkey trots are what we are all about, and then some. Plus we’re free and community led. And we keep it up every single week of the year. Check out parkrun USA’s article: A year-round turkey trot. (Confession: I wrote it.)
Anyhow, one of the best things about this year is that we had TWO parkrun days, on Thanksgiving Thursday, and another two days later. This made for a busy, but fun, couple of days.
On New Years Day we got caught out. We were so focused on the cake that we forgot about finisher tokens #201-300. That made matters a bit complicated when 243 parkrunners showed up.
For Thanksgiving we were ready. With cakes AND with the full complement of tokens. And we needed them, as we welcomed a record crowd of 249 finishers.
The cake was in large part to celebrate our THREE new 50-club members: Debbie Levenson, Misha Bernard, and John Scott. All are valuable members of our community. Debbie was already a regular before CP parkrun was an official thing, in early 2016, and she was part of our initial core volunteer team, so she has seen quite the journey as CP parkrun has grown. Misha first joined us about 2 years ago and she and her family have been regular runners and volunteers ever since. John (and his son Isaac) found us more recently, and they have become an integral part of the community. Congratulations to all. You’re going to look great in red!
The volunteer crew handled the super-sized crowd exceedingly well, and we are very grateful to them.
Andrea led one of our busiest first-timers’ briefings ever. Normally she tries to keep it intimate and learn everybody’s name. This week, with maybe 70 first-timers. Sorry! But it was a party atmosphere.
Expert timers Katie Hirsche and Brian Murphy were exactly who we needed to keep everything in sync, together with the token team of Jorge Urrutia and Zoe Phillips. You might think it’s easy to just click a button whenever somebody passes and hand out numbered pieces of plastic. But at peak traffic times it can get a bit confusing. Especially when some folks miss the finish line, or come through as a family, unclear who covered the course. Or just speed through the finish and don’t pick up a token.
We needed a lot of scanning support. So, in addition to Steven Borunda, Tomas Marambio and Susan Whitney and Danny Walker all jumped in as scanners after running.
Win Persina was going to take a run, but she figured that it would be more fun to hang out with Hump at his marshal spot, and they had a great time cheering everybody on.
And Valerie Silensky and Rebecca White were our tailwalking crew, making sure that everybody was safe and nobody finished last. And they were suitably dressed for Thanksgiving, too.
One unusual feature of our Thanksgiving parkrun: we had a bunch of visitors from further afield. And by that, I don’t mean just Maryland, DC, or Virginia.
Nick Huang was back! Nick was last with us 6 months ago, having just completed his PhD at UMD, and about to get married and move to Connecticut. This week he was back, together with his wife Jessica, AND Jessica’s parents! And he was proudly wearing the shirt that we presented him with as a going away gift.
We had parkrun tourists visiting from London - Commeletia and Rosemary. And all the way from Sydney, Australia. Darren and Lucille are keen parkrun tourists, and Lucille has family in Northern VA, so they combined Thanksgiving with family with a couple of parkruns. AND they brought a box of Tim Tam cookies all the way from Australia to share with you all.
Rob Eveson zipped around the course as first finisher, also completing his 350th parkrun. Rob is normally based at Bushy parkrun in London, the original parkrun. But he has been interning in DC for the past few months, and has been checking out the various parkrun communities in the area.
… So where was our Sam Phipps, to give Rob a run for his (no) money? Well, Sam was with family in Houston, so he checked out Terry Hershey parkrun while he was there. And of course he both finished first and charmed the locals.
Personally, I was excited to see so many old and new friends. But there’s nothing quite like the surprise of a dear old friend who you totally didn’t expect to see rock up at parkrun. Welcome to John Whalen. So good to catch up. And results processing was just going to have to wait.
One other unique feature of Thanksgiving: our regular coffee spot was closed, so instead we checked out Bagels ‘n Grinds, in The Hotel at UMD. It was a good time, with lots of space, and fireplaces too. Thanks to the team there for making us so welcome!
Overall, it was a super fun morning, and we’re really happy to have done the extra event. Fun fact: for perhaps the only day EVER, College Park parkrun was the largest parkrun in the whole world on 11/28/19. (Of course, that’s mostly because there were only 12 events taking place. Normally, there are many South African parkruns with 1000+ finishers on a Saturday morning.)
We had barely caught our breath from the Thanksgiving extravaganza and it was time to head to Acredale Park again!
On Thanksgiving Saturday the temps were cooler and we welcomed a smaller and more low-key crowd. But it was just as much fun as ever.
As always we were super happy for the support of the volunteer crew. John Scott and Misha Bernard, whose 50th parkruns we had celebrated just two days earlier, were back as part of the volunteer crew. Mike McClellan volunteered while his wife Bonnie completed her 48th. Mike also entertained the crew with his harmonica while you were out on the trail.
Personally, I was thrilled to be able to run again. I’ve been sidelined by injury lately, and was making a tentative comeback. I enjoyed running with Xander, chatting about Thanksgiving fun and learning to fly. I also got to stop to say hi to Hump, and wish him well for his surgery (... it went well!).
It was great as usual to see so many people supporting each other in different ways. Such as Frank, who slowed down to run with Win as she returns from injury. Or Janet, who ran back down the trail to support second-timer Sharlene. And so many others.
And one of my favorite moments of the day. When Zoe’s dear old friend Alexandra showed up unexpectedly, home for a few days from college. The spontaneous joy is hard to beat.
I had better wrap this up, it’s almost time for the next CP parkrun!