We crossed America and we found … kittens!! (Virtual parkrun Report 5)

Warm and fuzzy overload

This week’s CP Virtual parkrun #5 had it all: the warm community, supporting each other to stay healthy and connected; a perfect day for getting outdoors (for those of us in Maryland and DC, at least); the fun of joining with SO MANY friends and family to complete our parkrun Across America challenge; the joy of meeting new babies … and kittens!

Yes, we had TWO stories of virtual parkruns that turned into kitten rescue adventures. We couldn’t make this up.

The only other thing we could wish for is to be able to come together again.

Oh, right. And to not be in a health crisis and an economic and societal meltdown. These things are on all our minds right now. Consider this report a mix of escapism and celebrating the good that can come from healthy communities that support one another.

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Jessica, Gus, and Cora did their virtual parkrun together in Linthicum

Facts and Figures

234 participants

1,010 miles covered

82 first-timers

55 five-timers

17 barkrunners

7 virtual volunteers

Participants in 15 states: MD, CT, NJ, OH, MI, IA, CO, TX, MN, NC, MA, VA, ID, RI, DC

Participants in 10 countries: USA, UK, Germany, Costa Rica, Australia, Singapore, Estonia, Canada, Norway, and Italy

THIS WEEK'S RESULTS TABLE

This week’s 234 participants is not only a record for CPVp, it also surpasses our record for a regular Saturday parkrun. The only days when we have seen more people are Thanksgiving and New Years. Of course, we had a LOT of help from our friends this week.

We made it home!

Our target for the day was to cover 877 miles to complete our virtual parkrun across America challenge. A bit of a tall order, as we had averaged 450 miles in weeks 1-3 and stretched to 720 miles in week 4.

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To make things a little more interesting, we devised a route that visited TEN different parkrun venues along the way across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. We finished with a lap around the DC metro area to visit all of the local parkrun venues.

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7-year old Xander Mease decided to choose which part of the route he and mom Tara were running. He was setting out early, so he thought that a section around the Illinois-Indiana border would be a good pick. Nice way to fold in an extra geography lesson.

By lunchtime we had made it to Mansfield, OH parkrun, where a number of locals contributed miles. We highly recommend a visit to Mansfield if you’re in central Ohio some Saturday. Their event was the next one to launch after College Park, in January 2017, and they could not be a more friendly group of people.

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Barkrunner Foxy did her run right on the course of Sippo Lake parkrun in Canton OH, which our virtual route passed in the early afternoon.

By late afternoon our route took us from Pennsylvania into Maryland, through Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, MD. As it happens, Neil Jograj, Julie Russell, Dottie Jograj, and barkrunner Trista did their virtual parkwalk in that very park this week!

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Late afternoon - back in Maryland. Neil, Julie, and Trista (with Dottie) at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, MD (visit some time - it's lovely!)

By early evening we were approaching DC, looking like it would be very close. Misha Bernard dispatched her son Alex to walk a couple of miles for the cause -- thanks, Alex! -- and by 7pm we had reached the target. There’s just no way that at the start of May, when we started our virtual parkruns, we would have expected to make it across the continent by the end of May. And it was even less probable to make it home just one hour before our cut-off time on May 30th.

In fact, we ended up easily passing our target, as additional results surfaced over the course of the evening. So we crossed the continent with over a hundred miles to spare! (We considered continuing on to Ocean City, to dip our toes in the Atlantic. But no, that’s maybe not such a good idea.)

May Totals

  • 3,085 miles covered
  • 805 activities by 339 individuals
  • Ages 1 to 86 years
  • Distances of 0.5 to 20 miles
  • Paces from “world class” to “let’s stop and photograph some birds”

An extra shout out this week for some folks who did some big pulls for the team to help us reach our miles target.

David Lai ran 20 miles on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail in Glen Burnie, MD. His route included the planned course for the new parkrun that we hope can start there later in the year.

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Cory Kind and Adam Gann and barkrunner Walker, all from Roosevelt Island parkrun, did 8.5 miles each, adding 25 miles to the account.

Steve and Karen Crane, leaders of Mansfield, OH parkrun, ran 10 miles together, helping us across Ohio. Steve and Karen have visited us for a number of our special events, and we always love welcoming them to College Park. They were last here for our New Year’s Double.

Ndegwa Kamau and Gail Sockwell-Thompson from PG Running Club together added 20 miles to the total. Thanks guys!

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The Great Kitten Caper

Gloria Cottman and Tracy Huard hadn’t expected to see each other on the Paint Branch Trail this week, so when they found themselves finishing their virtual parkruns around the same time, they sat down in the grass near the parking lot to get caught up.

At one point, Gloria looked up to see two women running toward them with a black smudge jumping at their heels. "Is that a dog?” Gloria asked, before answering her own question:“No, it's too small to be a dog.  It's a cat!  Is she running with her CAT?!" In fact, it was a small black kitten.

Around the same time, back near Hump’s crossing, Joanna, Dave, and Alyssa Heintzelman were nearing the end of the trail, when a (different) black kitten came running up to Joanna, and meowed loudly at her.

As near as we can figure, someone had abandoned both kittens near Hump’s Crossing, and they had chosen to do so at just the right moment. Because these chance encounters ended up with both kittens finding their forever homes.

Dave Heintzelman was able to catch kitten #2 without much trouble, and little Beau (below, left) is now happily camped out in the Heintzelman’s home.

Kitten #1 followed the runners all the way to the parking lot, where it played hide-and-seek with a small handful of parkrunners, getting right up onto the tires of Trace’s car. With critical help from Ada Lee (one of the women the kitten had followed), and an offering of some chicken sausage as a lure by an innocent bystander, kitten #1 was finally collected. By then, Ada’s running companion had already called home to alert her husband and son that their son’s dream of having a kitten was about to come true, and they arrived on the scene, and took it home.

Now that’s what we call teamwork!

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Meet Beau and ... other kitten?

The High Five Club

We love celebrating parkrun milestones, and we’re bummed to have missed a lot of 50 and 100 celebrations this spring. Our virtual parkruns are entirely off-label, unofficial, samizdat … you get the idea. But this means that we can roll out our own recognition for CPVp regulars, and so this week we’re giving a shout out for folks who have completed 5 virtual parkruns already.

Sorry, no t-shirts or medals. But we’re adding badges to our results list for folks who reach 5 CPVps. And the badge represents one of the things we miss about Saturday mornings: the high fives along the trail.

Congratulations to the FIFTY FOUR virtual parkrunners who took part every single week in May. Wow! You can see their names with the high five badge in this week’s results table.

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Frank Snyder is confined to his retirement community in Gaithersburg during the pandemic, but he's one of our 54 virtual parkrunners with HIGH FIVE badges

Speedy!

Speed is all relative. We don’t much care whether you’re the fastest or the slowest, or go the longest or the shortest. But we LOVE celebrating your achievements.

Stewart Mayhew equalled his best ever parkrun time in 22:06, and is surely ready for a new PB once we get together again. After finishing his 5K, Stewart headed off for another 6 miles around the trails of College Park to add to our transcontinent challenge.

We were excited to see Dominique Lisiero do a 21:44 time trial on the CP parkrun route. That’s her second fastest time ever. One year ago this weekend we were starting to notice that Dominique was “parkrunning for two”, and she has been doing some stroller running lately. Dominique commented: “I got to imagine all the CP runners pulling me along the course yesterday. It gave me a good push!”

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Dominique Lisiero at CP parkrun one year ago. It has been a busy year!

Paul Wester deserves a shout out for consistency. Paul’s virtual parkruns are part of a run-every-day streak, and this week he reached 6 months of running every single day. Nice going, Paul!

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Paul Wester has not missed a day of running in half a year!

At CPVp HQ the whole family was inspired to push the pace.

Andrea Zukowski has run faster in every single CPVp so far, and her 32:28 is her fastest 5K in over 2 years. Nice! Colin Phillips ran his fastest 5K of the year in 19:48. Happy to be returning from injury, and even happier to get to say hi to a bunch of parkrunners along the way. But pride of place goes to Zoe Phillips, who walked 8.5 miles around University Park to contribute to the parkrun Across America challenge. This is the furthest Zoe has covered in a long while.

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Colin’s time was almost the fastest of the day. But it was narrowly eclipsed by Simon Wraight, running on a route with a 400’ drop in Concord, NH. Is that against the rules? Definitely not! The rules for CPVp are: “Have fun, stay safe, and be creative!”

Cindy Cohen has been honing her downhill running skills, and this week she managed her fastest ever parkrun 5K time, running 23:48 near her new home in Sandpoint, ID … on a route with a 900’ drop!

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... And then we heard from Cindy Conant, a CP parkrun regular who’s also part of the Kensington parkrun crew. Cindy timed her 5K in 20:14 this week. That’s pretty quick. Especially when you consider that Cindy’s 59 years old and this translates into a 93% age-grading. (For a 30-year old male, this would translate into a 13:55 5K.) Oh, and by the way, Cindy did this as part of a 13-mile run. And after that she was going to meet up with her new running buddy, 11-year old neighbor Kai Martin, to do an extra 5K. We love this!

Newcomers

This week we had a whopping 82 newcomers join our virtual event! Adrian Dover wanted to do his part to help get us home, and with his encouragement, his wife Stella did her first parkrun event of any kind (real or virtual) in the Dymock Woods in Gloucestershire, UK. Adrian’s second recruit was his friend Colin Nattrass, who lives in Singapore. Colin did a brisk 10k walk to test an injured knee, and his route covered part of Singapore’s East Coast parkrun.

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Adrian Dover has done over 200 parkruns, including 20 at College Park. This week his wife Stella joined him for the very first time. Welcome, Stella!!

Adrian wasn’t the only one recruiting friends and family this week. Duane Rosenberg pulled in his nephew Jeff, in Denver, and his brother Dave, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Zoe Phillips shared the news about our ambitious Run Across America with a small group of friends all over North America (in Brownsville, TX, Minneapolis, and Toronto), and they (and their pups) were excited to participate, collectively logging more than a marathon worth of miles: 26.7.

Külli told her good friend Heddi back in Estonia about our event, and Heddi registered for official parkruns on the same day that she did her first unofficial virtual event, choosing a path around a lake. They have plans to visit Finland together when the fates allow, and to do some parkrun tourism there.

First-time virtual parkrunner Zebi Brown was doing her first run after being out injured for many months. Zebi wrote: “I sprained my ankle in the fall and I’ve only started easing into running again in the last few weeks. Today was the furthest I’ve run since the injury: .75 miles. Proud of my progress and proud I’m not pushing my body too hard.”

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Anna Tinnemore recruited her friends Julianne, Mary and Matt to help us complete the cross America challenge. Thanks for your miles, guys! We hope you can join us some time to check out our favorite trail.

Roosevelt Islanders

We were thrilled to be joined this week by a crew from Roosevelt Island DC parkrun. If you haven’t visited their hidden gem downtown you really must. The island is right across from the Kennedy Center but easily overlooked. It’s great for a parkrun, or just for a quiet stroll some time. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of Washington DC.

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We welcomed RI parkrun co-Event Director Joyce Adams to lead this week’s Zoom parkrun briefing. Joyce has run or volunteered at CP many times before, and it’s always great to see her smiling face on a Saturday.

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Guest briefing by Joyce from Roosevelt Island. And do you see baby Sophia!

A few of the RI crew joined us for our virtual coffee meetup, which was lovely!

Anna Weber shared her philosophy for route planning during the pandemic. Choose quiet streets, preferably the ones with the cutest pups that you can pet along the way. #protip

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Anna checked out the local not-so-wildlife in Arlington, VA

Tereza Horejsova and the rest of "the Czech team" completed 6K each, adding a solid 30K to our total.

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And one of the nicest surprises of the day came when RI regular Hillary Roberts joined the briefing and the coffee along with a new family member -- baby Sophia! Sophia is just 4 weeks old.

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Virtual Visitors

This week we had virtual visitors from so many different places.

We had participants from 14 different US parkrun events join the fun: Anacostia, Delaware & Raritan Canal (NJ), Durham NC, Fletcher’s Cove (DC), Jamaica Pond (Boston), Kensington, Leakin Park, Lillie (Ann Arbor, MI), Livonia (MI), Mansfield OH, Mountain Goat Trail (TN), Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation (Cleveland, OH), Roosevelt Island DC, Sippo Lake (Canton, OH).

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Janet found a beautiful route on the coast in Newport, RI for her virtual parkrun. And her virtual parkrun also had this lovely looking cake! Might be related to her birthday - Happy Birthday, Janet!

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Three years ago this week, Rory and barkrunner Dolly were doing one of their last runs at College Park before starting new events further north. This week they joined us from northern NJ..

The Barnes family from Australia joined us en masse this week. All five of them did a virtual 5K from Valentine, New South Wales. Looks like a spectacular location on the Pacific coast.

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Team Barnes added 5 x 5K = 25K to our total in Valentine, NSW, Australia!

Stefano Gazzano continued taking us on virtual Italian travels. This week he sent us a picture of dawn over the Tyrrhenian Sea near his home in Civitavecchio in Italy.

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Joan Heffernan, who is now a proud member of our High Five club, managed to incorporate two states into her run. Starting from her home in Suffield, CT she made it across the state line into Massachusetts.

Random Fun

College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn went the extra mile in helping us get across America. In addition to his 5K run, he also put in some extra distance while mowing the lawn. His GPS track shows thorough coverage of he and Dave’s back yard. Interestingly, it shows Patrick veering across the street at one point. That could tell you something about GPS accuracy, or it could tell you how much Patrick is looking out after his neighbors. Your guess is as good as ours.

Barkrunner Sophie appears to have had a great time on her run with Evan and Katie Hirsche. Chasing sticks and splashing in streams were part of the fun.

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One bedraggled -- and happy -- barkrunner!

Amy Rice did a virtual fundraiser challenge that involved completing a mile every hour for 6 hours. And her son Sawyer and their barkrunner Tucker joined for 3 of those miles. Great team effort, guys!

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Nice work, Amy, Sawyer, and Tucker!

Crystal Bergemann did what she called an “anti-parkrun”. She found that if you head along the trail from home to the parkrun start and back, it’s almost exactly 5K.

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Jeremy Reuter is enjoying virtually parkrunning with his 9-year old son Luke. He reports that they’re going a little further and making fewer stops every week. Luke already has a barcode, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the trail when we start up again

Volunteers

5 weeks in to hosting our Virtual events, we are starting to feel like we’ve got a good handle on how this new rodeo works. Results collecting is a big job, but it’s also enormously fun being part of a small team of people funneling results and little tidbits of stories into a shared document throughout the day on Saturday, and watching the miles and the participants pile up.

Tara Mease has been outstanding as Results Coordinator since our first virtual event, and this week her team of helpers included Trace Huard (who had so much fun in week 4 that he volunteered immediately after to help with week 5), Anna Tinnemore, Joyce Adams, Colin Phillips, and Andrea Zukowski.

The other Really Big Job of our virtual events is preparation of this Run Report. This week we debuted a new job: Run Report Technical Helper. These are folks we ask to deposit all the best photos, quotes, and stories that people have shared from one source or another (Facebook, email, Strava) into a shared folder. This is enormously helpful to the Run Report writer! This week’s Run Report Technical helpers were Lori Dominick and Andrea Zukowski. The Run Report writers this week were Colin Phillips (mostly), with cameo appearances by Andrea Zukowski and Trace Huard.

This week we also owe a big thank you to Joyce Adams for being our Virtual Run Director. And of course we owe extra special thanks to the team of parkrunners who helped rescue and find forever homes for two unexpected kittens: Trace Huard, Gloria Cottman, and Ada Lee. Thank you, all of you!

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Gloria thought her virtual parkrun adventure was finished. Little did she know that it was only just beginning.

What the future holds

We’re often asked when we’ll be back to regular in person parkruns. We know that it will happen eventually, but we really don’t know when, and we don’t expect it to be soon, alas.

For CP parkrun to return to normal, we need local social distancing requirements to be removed, and we need parkrun Global to authorize reopening of US events.

Although Prince George’s County has announced cautious initial steps towards reopening, starting on June 1st, these steps are quite limited, and they do not come close to what is needed to allow 200-person events to go ahead.

The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for COVID-19 in Maryland is slowing, but only very slowly. So it’s important that we all do our part to prevent a new surge. In College Park we are surrounded by the worst-hit area of the state. Our actions help to protect those around us.

And in parkrun world, all events worldwide will remain closed through the end of June, at least. We have no inside information, but New Zealand has handled the pandemic much, much better than the US so far. And so we are curious to see if they will be ready to re-start their parkruns later this summer.

Meanwhile, there are new attractions to look forward to when we’re next able to come together on the Paint Branch Trail. Work on the connector trail to the College Park Woods neighborhood is now progressing rapidly. This will make it easier for some of our parkrun community to enjoy the trail system. Thanks to the city and the county for making this possible!

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New connector trail in progress!

See you next week!

Your CP Virtual parkrun team

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Wonka enjoying his barkwalk in Hyattsville

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Valerie checked out some of the front yard graduation signs near her neighborhood

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In Michigan Tim Keer did 5K for the Lillie Virtual parkrun, then added another 9 miles to contribute to our total for College Park Virtual parkrun

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Meridith visited Lisa on her runmary-chris-anderson_web

Mary and Chris on their virtual parkrun in Bowie, MD

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Amanda Mercer added a few miles in College Parkellen-oberholtzer-eli-milo_web

Barkrunners Eli and Milo contributed 5K and 2K, respectively, together with Ellen Oberholtzeer