Do you see what I see? (Virtual parkrun Report 3)

One of the surprises about spending so much time at home during the pandemic is all the things that we have been discovering close to home. Normally we’re on the go all the time and we get to explore the WORLD. Now that our physical world has shrunk, we hear from so many people who are discovering cool things close to home.

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of hurting happening right now. But there’s also a whole lot of creativity to be found right now. Members of our CP parkrun community discovered some of these this weekend.

But first, the tl;dr …

  • We finally had nice late spring weather. Temps reached the 80s, but a fresh breeze instead of the summer soupy humidity
  • 132 took part this week, at last count, including 20 first-time virtual parkrunners!
  • It was a nail biter in the “mayoral race”. You’ll just have to read on to find out more …



It was such a nice day that David Lai decided to throw in an extra 10 miles!

Seen along the trails

We love, love, love our regular Paint Branch Trail. But we’ve run and walked it so many times (about 19,000, since you’re asking) that we have a good idea of what we’ll see along the trail on a “normal” Saturday morning. In a virtual parkrun, there are a lot more surprises. And stopping to enjoy them is totally fine.

Valerie Silensky took a break from her 5K to enjoy a front porch cello performance in her neighborhood. Professional cellist Jodi Beder has been holding daily half-hour performances, supporting her neighbors and people who view the live stream from around the world. The Hyattsville Wire had a good story recently about Jodi’s performances.


Race past on your 5K, or stop to listen to the outdoor cello concert. No contest!

When Jen Matis set out on the Paint Branch Trail at 6:45am she wasn’t expecting to encounter too many people, but was surprised to see a few birders out. Misha Bernard explained to us what was going on. The Maryland-DC Audubon Society organized a 24-hour Backyard Birdathon, kind of like the human census (have you filled out yours yet?), but for birds. Misha and her daughter Maia combined their parkwalk this week with some birding up and down College Park. Great idea!

Colin Phillips took a very tentative jog around his neighborhood in University Park, testing the progress of a foot injury. (Verdict: hung jury.) His route briefly took him into the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks.


Dave and Alyssa Heintzelman got in a few miles near Lake Artemesia, and reported that “We also managed to save a baby turtle along the way!”

Most of these would not have happened at a regular parkrun. Though we have had some baby animal rescuing in the past.


Do you recognize the spot on the Paint Branch Trail where John Ramsey saw these turtles?

When they go low, we go high

(h/t Michelle Obama for that one)

We again had a full range of ages in action this week.

Lois Zukowski (Andrea’s mom, age 85) did a walk near her home in Harrison Twp, MI. She wasn’t sure quite how far she walked, but she wisely quipped: “How far doesn’t matter so much. It’s the getting outside to do it. Maybe next week I can do some more minutes."

Our regular octogenarians Bonnie and Mike McClellan were out on the trail, together with Anna Tinnemore. (Violating social distancing? Nope. Anna lives in their basement.) If you have been on the Paint Branch Trail recently you may have noticed construction just beyond the Tunnel of Trees. This is a project to create a connector trail linking the PBT to the College Park Woods neighborhood. This will soon make it even easier for Bonnie, Mike, and Anna to enjoy the trail.

At the other end of the age scale, Rachel Unger was out again for a “parkwaddle” to Vigilante Coffee, together with husband Jeff and barkrunner Scooter. Rachel is now 38-weeks pregnant! So we wait with bated breath for the week when they check in with four in the family!


11-year old Violet Ridge is a very seasoned parkrunner. 5K is no problem for her. But this week she shortened her run so that she could join her brother Felix, age 2, for a parktoddle.

Another parktoddler this week was Cora Gerbig, who hopped out of the stroller for a while during a 5K near BWI Airport by mom Jessica Gerbig and granddad Gus Campbell. Gus explained that Cora was testing out her new Frozen 2 running shoes. We’re jealous!



In the spirit of doing your virtual parkrun how you want, where you want, James Schneider decided that toddling would have to wait for another day. He celebrated his FIRST BIRTHDAY by joining the rest of Team Schneider on a 5K walk in Hyattsville. (This week they cut off 15 minutes from their time last week, we hear.) But James opted for the “parknap” option.


The Mayoral race, and other speediness

We have two speedy mayors in Duane Rosenberg (New Carrollton, 119 parkruns) and Patrick Wojahn (College Park, 94 parkruns). It’s often a toss-up which of them will finish first.

Duane set out early for a 5K around Lake Artemesia, and checked in with a 22:06 clocking. That’s his fastest time since January. Nice! Patrick left it until later in the day to get out, but responded with a characteristic let it rip effort around North College Park. He started with a 7:03 mile, then laid down a storming 6:03 second mile. This could mean that he found a downhill. Or that the GPS signal in north CP was dodgy. Or that his weekend takeouts supporting local businesses are more potent than we realized. But the pace dropped a little in the final mile, bringing Patrick (literally) home in 22:12, allowing wily Duane to edge ahead by just a couple of seconds. Nice effort, gentlemen!


Patrick finished mere seconds behind Duane this week!

Also at the speedier end of the scale, it’s fun each week to see the times come in over the course of the day, wondering who will be in the “lead” when the 8pm cutoff rolls around.

This week Lokesh Meena laid down a very early marker, running 19:30 in countless laps around his apartment complex in New Delhi, India. We suspect the weather was not ideal for running, and we know that Lokesh ran the 5K wearing a mask, so that is an impressive effort!


That's speedy at any time. But on a small loop, in New Delhi, wearing a face mask. Wow.

Tomas Marambio set out a little later in the day in College Park. He’s a sub-19 runner when in form, so he could have been a threat. Final time: 20:00.0. A little slower, but so much more aesthetically pleasing!


Robin Phillips (Colin’s brother) could have been another threat, running in Bristol, UK for his second CP Virtual parkrun. But with a busy schedule of virtual relays, including a fast 5K on Friday and a 10K planned for Sunday, he opted for an steadier 5K. Next week, maybe, Robin?

Katie and Evan Hirsche might have threatened Lokesh’s time when they went out for their run. Katie has been laying down crazy fast times in a series of virtual track races lately. (And dad Evan has been hanging on for dear life.) But they started with Katie doing a 1 mile virtual race on Rock Creek Parkway, in 5-something. And then decided to put in a solid CP parkrun effort right after doing that. So it was 20-something for these two.


Katie and Evan did a speedy parkrun RIGHT AFTER doing a 1-mile race

Just when we thought Lokesh might maintain his masked lead to the end of the day, Clark Ridge checked in via email with his 19:06 clocking around his neighborhood. No prizes for being fastest at parkrun, of course. But the added intrigue of the virtual format makes it that bit more exciting to follow along.

Meanwhile, you don’t need to be a front of the pack runner to have times to celebrate, if that’s what you’re looking for.

It was only last week that Meridith Phillips was running her fastest ever time on the CP parkrun course. And this week she went and ran a whole minute faster. Nice!


Another PB for Meridith!

Comebacks from injury kind of let you reset your PBs, too. Gloria Cottman was delighted to run a 5K in under 40 minutes - her best run since she tore her MCL. And Andrea Zukowski set another post-injury PB, taking another minute from her time the week before.


Comeback kid!

Four legs good, two legs … also good

(h/t George Orwell on that one … dystopic times call for dystopic quotes)

The barkrunners were not missing out on the opportunity to enjoy a run or a walk with their humans.

Heidi joined Susan Whitney on the trail, and may have noticed that it was a little warmer this week.


Barkrunner Heidi noticed it was warmer this week

For some obscure reason, virtual high school track meets are less chill about canine participants than we are at CP virtual parkrun. So Sophie missed out on Katie and Evan’s speedfest. But it looks like she did pretty nicely anyway, going for a parkhike in the woods with mom Maria.


Woodland hike for Sophie and Maria

Gifford got out for a run around the Potomac trails in Cabin John, MD with Dan Owen. Dan shared that at some point he just let Gifford do the navigating, and then things went a little off track after that.


Visiting Relatives

We’re excited that we now have regulars at CP Virtual parkrun who are based far away from College Park.

Cindy Cohen took in another rather hilly looking parkrun in the mountains of Idaho. Check out that elevation profile.


Kazuko Yatsushiro also sent us a picture from the “mountain” in the middle of her run. In this case it’s the Insulanerberg, a 260-foot high hill in the south of Berlin, Germany, built out of rubble from World War II, now with forested trails and an observatory on the top. In the view from the top that Kazuko sent us, you can make out the big TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, in the center of Berlin. Kazuko is missing her local parkrun in Berlin, Hasenheide parkrun, but is enjoying hanging out with the CP parkrun community in the meantime.


Do you see the tower at Berlin Alexanderplatz?

Joan Heffernan joined us for the 3rd consecutive week from her home in Suffield, CT. This week Joan squeezed in her run early, ahead of a volunteering shift at a local farm.


Carlos Chaverri-Morales is another visitor with a perfect attendance record at CP Virtual parkrun, joining us from Cartago, Costa Rica. We always thought of Costa Rica as being, well, coastal. But it turns out that the San Jose area where Carlos is based is at 4,500’ of altitude, with tall volcanoes nearby!

Adrian Dover checked in again from Newent, in Gloucestershire, UK. Adrian’s a regular visitor to College Park. He first joined us on our quietest ever parkrun, on a rainy Christmas Eve in 2016. And that’s a connection to our next tourists …

Steve Feld also did his first CP parkrun on 12/24/16. Now he and wife Cindy are regulars at Durham, NC parkrun, where there’s an emerging satellite CP Virtual parkrun happening on Saturdays! This week Steve and Cindy were joined by Durham, NC parkrun regulars Dave Menusan and Faith Hays, who happen to also be Marylanders.


The North Carolina branch of College Park parkrun: Steve, Dave, Faith, and Cindy

And our biggest contingent of visitors this week are really local family. The folks at Roosevelt Island parkrun in DC decided to “join” us this week, so we had a few Islanders in the mix. Joyce Adams got in another treadmill parkrun, appreciating the fact that for a virtual parkrun you can finish reading your book with your cat before starting your run. Anna Weber got in a walk in Arlington, VA. And Eden Gray and barkrunner Foxy did a half parkrun at Sippo Lake in Canton, OH, with lots of sniffing involved, no doubt.

The tie-in with RI parkrun also brought us international tourists! Normally most of the international parkrun visitors to DC head straight to Roosevelt Island. It’s why we see so few international visitors at CP. But this week we had visitors who heard about us via RI. This includes Derry Jarvis, from Horsham, south of London. Derry is not infrequently in DC for work, and has visited RI before. We now look forward to welcoming him to CP at some point in the future.


Emma Keer ran 7 miles in Ann Arbor, MI. So she figured that should count for her local Lillie Virtual parkrun AND for College Park Virtual parkrun AND for a nice smoothie!

Miscellaneous Highlights

Joe Fox scores extra points this week for his creative plan for his virtual parkrun intervals. “I "did a fartlek for the length of "I love LA" by Randy Newman"”. Can’t argue with that. (Want to try it for your own intervals? You’re welcome.)


Erin Munsell was SO close to completing her 100th parkrun before the shutdown. With 98 regular parkruns and now with 2 virtual parkruns under her belt, we think she at least deserves some virtual cake. We can’t wait to celebrate when she reaches the official 100 after we return to normal.

Kalonji Collins took a break from treadmill running to run on the Paint Branch Trail again. Kalonji’s observation: “Running outside is SO MUCH HARDER than running on the treadmill". Just wait until July, Kalonji!


Lisa Wilson was nowhere to be seen on the trail this weekend … well, aside from the virtual Lisa that Elmer Hernandez got to visit on his run. Lisa was up in Howard County (no longer under a stay-at-home order) teaching an outdoor yoga class, with social distancing, of course. Then she got in a nice parkwalk for good measure.


Vital Statistics

The counts are always a bit iffy (and evolving!), but at the time of writing there have been exactly 130 participants all 3 weeks of CP Virtual parkrun. That’s consistency! [Ok, since writing this, we found 2 more results. Oh well!]

Around 65 have completed all 3 CPVps. That’s also consistency!

And we had 20 first-time virtual parkrunners this week. This included welcoming regular parkrunners Joel Goldberg and Dale Morey to the online community. It also included Anne-Marie and Michael Gorman from Hyattsville. And Louise Godley and Samatha Ager in Takoma Park. Welcome all!

To date, 205 unique participants have completed CP Virtual parkruns 390 times, covering around 1,400 miles. That’s roughly the distance from College Park to Denver.

NOTE FOR STRAVA USERS. We found that some people joined our Strava Club and they’re recording virtual parkruns, but we’re missing them in the results. That seems to happen when you have your Strava privacy settings configured so that we cannot see your activities. You can fiddle with those settings … or just send us an email and we’ll update our records.

Virtual Volunteers

Virtual parkruns need volunteers, too. Please let us know if you can help out in a future week. Drop an email to At a virtual parkrun you don’t need to choose between volunteering and walking or running. You can have it all!

This week Stewart Mayhew stepped up to give the pre-event briefing on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Tara Mease was results coordinator -- getting us more organized from one week to the next -- and this week she was supported by Diana Gough, Anna Tinnemore, and Andrea Zukokwski.

Colin Phillips held the fort in the Storytelling Department.

And although we didn’t have official unofficial tailwalkers this week, we’ll bestow that role after the fact on Rachel, Jeff, and Scooter. Walking 5K while 38 weeks pregnant in 1h45 is darn good going. And it might even encourage a baby to be born.

Thanks to all of the volunteers!


Got coffee? Join us at the Virtual parkrun coffee chat, Saturdays at 10:30am

Looking Ahead

We don’t know how long we’ll remain in virtual mode, but we expect it to be a long while. We don’t expect to be able to resume regular parkruns until all outdoor distancing regulations are removed. And that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. The rate of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Maryland is slowing, but only VERY slightly. And Prince George’s County is taking an appropriately cautious approach to its reopening plans.

In the meantime, it’s all the more important to stay active, and to support each other in doing that. It’s great for our physical and mental health. So we’ll keep on doing what we’re doing. And we thank you for all that YOU are doing to encourage friends and family members to be active, too.

Till next week!

 frank-snyder_webFrank Snyder has taken part in every CP Virtual parkrun so far, running around the retirement community in Gaithersburg where he lives.