Glass half virtual (Virtual Report 9)

We miss seeing you all in person, and so many things about our regular meetups. But rather than focus on the things that we miss, we can list many things that we’re enjoying about our CPVps after two months of Saturdays.

We love that we have the flexibility for people to participate how they want. This week 60 people took part but didn’t want to report a time. Great! You are more than a number.

We love that we’re connecting regularly with friends from far away. Duane Rosenberg now regularly does CPVp “with” family members across the country. That couldn’t happen normally.

Adrian Dover used to visit us whenever he could, including this weekend last year. But now he's stuck in the UK. But now he can do CPVp every week ... AND his wife Stella is no longer a parkrun widow!


We love the few in person encounters that we do get. They are all so much more valuable these days, whether they are along a local trail, or stopping by Andrea and Colin’s front yard for a slice of “parkrun cake” (see below).

We love, love, love the things you’re sharing about what you get up to.

And we love that so many are joining in the fun. For the past 3 weeks, during our virtual civil rights history tour, we have seen an average of 180 participants per week. That’s many more than the same 3 weeks last year.

So what happened this week?


If it wasn't for the virtual events, we wouldn't be celebrating Steve Feld's CPVp on his 69th birthday, in Durham, NC

Facts and Figures

  • 177 virtual parkrunners
  • 760 miles covered
  • 16 first-timers
  • 18 new HIGH FIVES earned
  • 8 barkrunners
  • 7 virtual volunteers


Civil Rights History Tour Progress

This week we completed our virtual civil rights history tour, which has extended across the past 3 Saturdays. When we started out we had little idea of how far we would travel -- 2,350 miles -- and how much we would learn along the way. Including learning more about things right around us.

We had planned to finish the tour at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in DC, at the site of the famous MLK speech. But parkrunner Paul Wester came up with a better idea, right here in College Park.


Paul wrapped up his run at the Frederick Douglass memorial in the middle of the University of Maryland campus (on Hornbake Plaza, just across from the student center bus stops). The statue, which was added in 2015, depicts Douglass as a young man speaking in Ireland about abolition and human rights.

As UMD’s Bonnie Thornton Dill explains in this short video about the memorial, Douglass’ life was about the relationship between freedom and education. He was born into slavery in eastern Maryland, at a time of deliberate efforts to prevent black literacy. We can’t begin to do justice here to his remarkable life, which advanced freedom on multiple dimensions, including gender as well as race.

Douglass is a perfect symbol of what we aspire to in College Park and the surrounding area, as we strive to be an inclusive community, with education at our heart. And the link between freedom and education is central to the crises we face as a society right now. In fact, the reason why we can’t meet up on Saturday mornings, now or any time soon, is directly related to efforts to misinform and to undermine trust in science, and to undermine social cohesion. (Our meetups are, of course, trivial in the grand scheme of things.)

Ellen Oberholtzer (and barkrunner Eli) visited the Adam Francis Plummer marker in Edmonston on their virtual parkrun. Born into slavery to the Calvert family (the same Calverts who founded the state, the University of Maryland, and whose heraldic colors feature on the state flag), Plummer was the foreman of the Riversdale plantation and kept a diary of his family life. Now in the care of the Smithsonian, the diary is the only known surviving one of a slave in US history. While enslaved, Plummer attempted several unsuccessful escapes and many members of his family were sold to the deep south. After emancipation, Plummer established a settlement in what is now Edmonston in 1870, after purchasing the land to reunite his family.


Eli is a very educated barkrunner. Last week it was art, this week history

Other stops along this week’s route.

Charleston, SC. Charleston is not known for being at the forefront of civil rights progress. But we were inspired and uplifted this week by a new podcast about Robert Smalls, a Charleston slave who hatched an audacious scheme to gain freedom, and who achieved so much more after that.

Greensboro, NC. Four black students from NC A&T University staged a peaceful lunch counter sit-in at a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro in February 1961. More joined them the next day, and the day after that. By the fourth day the protest had grown to 300, and soon it extended across the Carolinas and beyond. We were surprised to learn of the story of what happened when the Woolworth’s owner relented to the protests.

Appomattox, VA. Where the Civil War ended. Thanks to parkrunner Michael Phipps for suggesting this addition to the tour.

Farmville, VA. 16-year old students at Moton High School in this small town started a push for integration, which eventually became one of the cases bundled into the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case in 1954. The high school is now a museum dedicated to the history of integration in education. And we learned that it is reopening this week (June 30th) after a coronavirus shutdown. It’s within striking distance of DC. We want to visit.

Harper’s Ferry, WV. This beautiful spot at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers is the site of John Brown’s unsuccessful anti-slavery rebellion. It’s also very much within reach of DC. In fact, parkrunner Stewart Mayhew has been exploring new segments of the C&O Canal towpath for the past few weeks, last week making it to Harper’s Ferry.


Let them eat cake! (after running a lot of hills)

This week a number of parkrunners combined their CPVp with “The Dreaded UP Hills”, which made for what we can best describe as a “semi-virtual” event. With not-remotely-virtual cake.

The Dreaded Druid Hills 10K is an annual race in Baltimore, this year in a virtual format, like so much else. Andrea saw the cool t-shirt design and said, “I want one!” But this virtual event asks that you not run just anywhere, but seek out a route with 8 stiff hills. So Andrea talked a few friends into joining on a devilish route around University Park that included 8 times around a short loop including the climb of Chansory Lane, the “highlight” of the annual UP Azalea Classic 5K. She and Colin set up the parkrun flag and canopy in their front yard, and lured people in with the cake that Andrea had baked. This way, they were able to enjoy socially distanced running and chatting with real people!

Extra kudos to Janice Bernache, who lost count of the laps and ended up putting in a 9th time up the hill.


7:00am - Wave 1: Janice, Colin, Andrea, Dwayne, Aaliyah


8:30am - Wave 2: Chris, Nina, Trace


9:30am - time for shade ... and cake. Stewart stopped by too!


12:00 - Wave 3: Hannah, Judy, Marvin; ok, this wave was all about the cake

High Fives and PB Bells

This week we welcomed 18 new members of our virtual High Five club, for completing 5 CPVps.

Jeff Brown, Dave Rosenberg,, Pratyush Tiwary, Pete Poremba, Maleta Ann Robinson, Janice Bernache, Samantha Ager, Michael Phipps, Michelle Lemon, Rachel Unger, Jenn Augsburger, Eddie Matus, Dan Owen, Dotlyn Jograj, Gifford (barkrunner), Keri Pierce, Thomas Hool, Clare Imholtz

A special shout out to Pete Poremba, Maleta Ann Robinson, and Michael Phipps, all of whom are Ohio-based parkrunners who have been regularly joining us. Ann and Michael this week achieved the feat of taking part in an actual live 5K race. We didn’t know that was still a thing. Looks like the folks in Ashland, OH pulled this off by restricting numbers and starting people off separately.


High fives for Rachel Unger and Jeff Brown who combined their 5 CPVps with becoming new parents. We were impressed that Rachel was back to walking a full 5K this week, just a couple of weeks after giving birth.

Dottie Jograj got in her 5th CPVp taking a hike with Neil and Julie in a park near the bay.


We rang the virtual PB bell for 15 first-timers this week

Ultra Runner j.c., Hannah Russell, Nico Matus, Aaliyah El-Amin, Barbara Gusack, Dwayne Hudson, Lindsay Ward-Gokhale, Robbie Yeager, Roger Hipp, Vikrant Gokhale, Gus (barkrunner), Izzy (barkrunner), Rachel Wintheiser, Rodney Green, Stephanie Goldstein.

We’re not sure of the real name of “Ultra Runner j.c.”, but as far as we can tell this runner based in Doha, Qatar did intend to be a part of our CPVp, based on his tagged Strava activity. So, welcome!

Lindsay and Vikrant were just two of the growing group of Roosevelt Island parkrunners who are joining us each week. There were 21 islanders this week! Looks like they found a lovely venue for their virtual parkrun at Burke Lake in Fairfax, VA.


Running for a cause

Some of you found creative ways to support good causes this week.

Jen Matis completed her furthest run yet at 4.3 miles, as she works up to 10K. Jen dedicated her run and a donation per mile to City Companions, a Baltimore based charity that supports pets and pet owners.  (

Team Schneider was busy this Saturday and combined their virtual parkrun with the Virtual Strides Coronavirus Relief 5K. Pushing for PBs, Samantha and mom Erin finished at 43:30, while little sister Mary Clare and dad Joshua finished at 45:46. Samantha improved her parkrun PB by around 9 minutes! All received medals!


And your good cause doesn’t need to be a registered 501c3 organization. It can be just good things for your community. Meridith Phillips arrived at the park to find the remains of the previous night’s fireworks strewn around the parking lot. So she cleaned it up before doing her 5K. Thank you, Meridith!


More Kudos

Nico Matus joined dad Eddie for a full 5K on the Paint Branch Trail this week in a little over an hour. Way to go, Nico!


Luke Rueter, aged 9, completed the full 5K for the first time. He and dad Jeremy have been adding a little distance every week. They stopped by Andrea and Colin’s front yard afterwards and were rewarded with cake.


Brian Rosenberg, running in Mechanicsburg, PA, completed his 3rd CPVp in the fastest time that we’ve seen yet, 17:29. He was one of FOUR members of Team Rosenberg in action this week - Duane and Cotter in Maryland, Brian in PA, and Dave in IA.

Isaac and John Scott were back to running on the Paint Branch Trail this week. But we heard from John that Isaac really misses the extra push that he gets from Duane in our regular parkruns.


Creative course design

Stewart Mayhew did a little park-calligraphy at Acredale Park. He reports having rather wet feet by the end of that effort.


Nice work, Stewart! We're not sure we can even write that neatly on paper.

Cindy Cohen, running in Sandpoint, ID, must have set a new record for the most ascent in a CPVp, climbing 2,500’ over the course of her 15 miles.



Nutrition corner

You found good things to eat along your virtual parkruns this week.

Heather Sisan found delicious wild berries along her route in Kensington, MD. (Disclaimer: we have no clue about safe and unsafe berries. Try this at your own risk. And watch out for bears.)


Rebecca White found that her local Dunkin was about 2.5K from home. How convenient! We confirmed that she showed impressive restraint upon reaching her turnaround point.


Imagine if Lisa started a donut stand at the turnaround. We'd see records every week!

Virtual Volunteers

This week 3 virtual volunteers joined our regular CPVp crew of Colin Phillps, Andrea Zukowski, Tara Mease (results czar), and Joyce Adams (Roosevelt Island parkrun coordinator).

Jen Matis took on the virtual version of a timekeeper with a stopwatch in one hand and high fives with the other. In the online format this amounts to having one browser tab with a spreadsheet, and another giving lots of virtual kudos to parkrunners as they report their activities.

Ellen Oberholtzer scoured the many activity reports in search of good pictures and stories that go into this report. Really, we have so many to choose from.

And Hannah Russell helped turn Ellen’s raw material into the report that you’re reading right now, working together with Colin.

Big thanks to all! We’re delighted that 20 people have helped so far in pulling off these virtual events, and we’re always happy to find more help. It’s a fun way to be in touch with your community while safely social distancing.


Deer seen on Hannah Russell's virtual parkrun

Looking Ahead

You don’t need us to tell you that the US as a whole is failing in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Maryland and Prince George’s County are faring much better than a couple of months ago, but we cannot afford to drop our guard if we want to avoid what is happening in the south and west right now.

The zip codes surrounding College Park already have 3-5% of the population with confirmed COVID-19 in the past 3 months. That's far above the national average of less than 1%. We do not need a new surge in our communities.

Prince George’s County will enter full Phase 2 reopening this week, starting on Monday 6/29. This will allow more facilities to open, and larger gatherings. But requirements around mask wearing and social distancing remain in place. We have not seen announcements about the reauthorization of events like ours.

The official position of parkrun Global is that they won’t reopen a country until all events in that country can proceed in unmodified form, i.e., without social distancing. This position might yet change, but that decision is not in our hands. So, there’s little prospect of CP parkrun going ahead in the regular format anytime soon.

That said, if you choose to go to the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday morning, it’s a great place to do some socially distanced running, with a high chance of encountering fellow parkrunners. Feel free to do this. Just come and go at your own time, and don’t plan on congregating at 9am.

We would have LOVED to celebrate our first ever July 4th parkrun with you all next week. So we’re going to be doing it virtually instead. Next week will be our 10th CPVp already, and we’re looking forward to awarding our first virtual 10-timer badges.

Until next week!

Your CPVp Team


Barkrunner Gifford tries to look unimpressed on earning his sought after High Five badge


David's half marathon crew


Stefano Gazzano dubbed this shrub "The Ghost". Nice! 


Shackleton's back! With TJ for company


Interesting choice of venue for Phil Wadsworth's virtual parkrun, in Colorado Springs, CO. 


Malik did a half marathon distance. In this heat. Serious business.


Colin sporting his new CPVp shirt - you can order one at ProDirect Running, and you can customize with your own favorite message, or just with "college park". These shirts aren't cheap, but one benefit of the pitiful UK economy is that the exchange rate is more favorable now than usual. And shipping to the US is free.