Beat the Heat (Virtual Report 12)

History is happening all around us right now. It’s hard not to be weighed down by heavy thoughts. And if that’s not enough, the heat and humidity in the mid-Atlantic make us all feel a little less light on our feet. But despite all this you came through with so many things to feel good about this week, as always.

This week we set out on our third virtual tour, now exploring the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail, and we made great progress on Week 1.

And we heard great stories about how you dealt with the heat, how you reached personal milestones despite the heat, how you helped inspire others, and how you discovered cool things around you. So here goes with our roundup of just some of the cool things that happened in College Park Virtual parkrun #12.



Cameron and Ranger were back on the trail this week. It has been so long since we last held a regular parkrun that Ranger has doubled in size!

Facts and Figures

  • 160 virtual parkrunners
  • 730 miles covered
  • 13 first-timers
  • 11 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 9 new HIGH FIVES earned
  • 8 barkrunners
  • 9 virtual volunteers



Scene from Dale Morey's run along the C&O Canal

Beat the Heat

We’re hitting the hottest part of the year, when it’s hard to keep moving outdoors. Not only did you get it done, many of you found creative ways of dealing with the heat. Our barkrunners led the, um, pack in this category.

Eden Gray reported that barkrunner Foxy took lots of rest breaks to roll in wet grass this morning. Barkrunner Walker had the same idea. (Cory Kind assures us that he’s fine, just tired.)


Foxy rolled in the grass to cool off


Walker collapsed on the grass to cool off. We can sympathize

Barkrunner Lizzie employed a more high tech option--she has a cooling vest that fits on her Ruffwear harness. Kudos to Lizzie’s human Joanne Smith for helping with this solution.


Joanne and barkrunner Lizzie with her special cooling vest. We want one!

Many of you made the most of the cooling effects of water.

Andrea Zukowski planted a thermos of iced mint tea along her route circuit, and visited that spot repeatedly. “Not only was the cold drink indispensable,” she reported, “but if you blow down into the thermos over the ice cubes, you get a little blast of air conditioning in your face.”


For some, a cold drink just isn’t enough.

Rosemary Schwartzbard did some more pool running. This does bring the risk of interruptions. But when it’s your 2-year old grandson, that’s really not too bad. Misha Bernard and her daughter Maia Swisdak tried out pool-walking this week. You’re not easily going to complete a 5K that way, but one of the perks of the virtual parkrun format is that we really don’t care!


Now THAT is an appealing parkrun course

It’s hard not to be jealous of Stefano Gazzano’s approach. After running more than 10K to the beach near his home in Civitavecchia, Italy, he cooled down with a swim in the sea with his three grandsons.


Plunge in the Mediterranean after your virtual parkrun. Nice!

Some of you dealt with the heat by running or walking indoors. Teresa Perdomo and Külli Crespin will no doubt soon be back to exploring the local trails, but this weekend the treadmill was just the ticket.

For others, the key was setting out early. Heather Sisan set out on (closed) Beach Drive in Kensington, MD before the rest of her family was awake. She may have passed Erin Munsell, who got in a long run and felt great for starting out so early. Diana Gough was forced to head out super early because her son Carlos’ swim meet started at 7am, but she probably benefited from the early start.


The early bird beats the heat ... well, only partly

When all else fails, we can use our imaginations. Chris Anderson channeled memories of his very first parkrun in 30 degree weather in January, 2018, to run the exact same time: 28:12. We count that as a moral PB, given the debilitating heat.

And last but not least, many of you followed our advice to celebrate National Ice Cream Day one day early.

In Berlin, Germany, Kazuko Yatsushiro first ran 5 miles with husband Uli, and then followed it up with an ice cream run with daughters Lina and Mika. It wasn’t a particularly leisurely ice cream run either: 5 km in 46 minutes. Their choice of flavors was pretty standard: peanut brownies, rocky road, and strawberry.


Mid-parkrun refueling stop

Others were a little more adventurous. Eden Gray saw this ad for a pickle flavor smoothie, and was curious. But not THAT curious. But Xander Mease certainly has a taste for adventure, so he took the plunge with a Pickle-Ice pop!


Eden: Thanks, but no thanks!


Xander: Sign me up!


We’ve already mentioned the creative water-based courses that some of you used this week, but that was just the start.

When conditions on the Paint Branch Trail get bad we sometimes switch from our single out-and-back route to a double out-and-back. In one variant we get to visit course marshal Hump Plotts 6 times. Our friends at Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor have a backup route for their harshest winter days when they use a 6-lap circuit. But that’s nothing compared to Rebecca White’s route this weekend. She jogged laps inside her house. Around 100 laps for 1.75 miles. If that’s not impressive enough, on most of those laps she had to run past the pancakes that husband Joe had made for her. That is some dedication.


Rebecca's cheering section. And recovery snack.

Valerie Silensky ran laps around a school yard in Mt Rainier. We're not sure of the lap count, but there were probably a lot.

Many of you visited the Paint Branch Trail for a run or a walk. Mark Kaplan and Bud Verge both appreciated the recent resurfacing work. And everybody appreciated the shade that covers most of the route..

Angela Gentile, TJ Hool, and barkrunner Shackleton also ran a route that included our regular parkrun course, but starting from home. Shackleton recognized the regular finish line and put in a sprint. Then was a little confused when it turned out he wasn’t yet done.


Shackleton thought he knew where to put in his finish sprint

Emma Keer and Adam Hockley ran 5K with other parkrunners from Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor, MI. Their goal was to hit 5 different parks in one day as part of Lillie parkrun Bingo. (Whatever that is, it sounds fun!) They managed to do it in a little over an hour, including a stop at a bridge for a quick game of Pooh Sticks. Emma reports that her stick won the sprint division but failed “spectacularly” in the distance event. [ in case anyone else didn’t know what it is.


This is basically how Pooh Sticks works


Emma and Adam on their tour of five parks. Including Pooh Sticks.

Appalachian Trail Tour

The next best thing to getting to higher, cooler ground is to at least imagine that we’re there. So this week we embarked on a virtual tour of the Appalachian Trail, one of the best known long distance trails in the world, and one that passes less than an hour from College Park.

The AT traverses 14 states in its 2,180 miles, from Georgia to Maine. If you hike it by yourself, you’ll need a few months. The fastest known solo traverse was by Belgian dentist Karel Sabbe, who in 2018 completed the route in 41 days, a distance of about 2 (rugged) marathons every single day. As for our goal: we’re hoping to cover the distance in about 3 Saturdays, aiming to reach Baxter Peak in Maine on August 1st.

This week’s route set out from Springer Mountain in Georgia, and passed through North Carolina and Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park before reaching Virginia, ending near Roanoke, VA. Our 730 miles is 33% of the AT, so we’d say we’re pretty much on track for our 3-Saturday target.

Along the way our virtual tour took us past the highest point on the trail, Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee, at 6,643’, where there’s a flying saucer style viewing platform that reminds us of our local (currently being rebuilt) Hyattsville Public Library. We also visited Mt Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. And passed the Nantahala Gorge in NC, where a spot of white water rafting would be quite appealing in the current heat.


Looks like Hyattsville. But with even more hills.


Nantahala Gorge: not the Paint Branch Stream

To our surprise, when we announced the AT challenge, we heard from Alyssa Heintzelman that she and her dad Dave had just returned from hiking Maryland’s 44-mile section of AT. And then on Saturday we were even more surprised to hear from Stewart Mayhew that he had gone and done his CPVp on part of the AT, at Gathland State Park.

Maybe more of us will be inspired to give it a try next week, when our virtual tour will take us through Maryland.


Dave and Alyssa hiked the 44 miles of the Maryland AT section this week


Stewart headed out early to run on the AT on Saturday

Achievements (just a few)

Team Rosenberg has a new virtual parkrunner! Duane’s nephew Brian is nursing an injury, so this week he settled for riding a bike alongside his 10-year old son Peter, who has recently worked his way up to the full 5K distance. Dad was very proud of the pacing. And uncle Duane is now scheming for a week when they can get 6 Rosenbergs in CPVp on the same day.

Speaking of proud uncles, 7-year old Isaiah Dycks was out on the Paint Branch Trail again this week with uncle Malik Al-Jame. And he was on fire. Last week he ran about a quarter of the 5K, and this week he ran almost all of it, setting a 9-minute PB in the process. Nice going, Isaiah!


9-minute PB for Isaiah!

And speaking of 7-year olds, Xander Mease was out on the local trails near his house at dawn, as usual, for a 5-6 mile meander through the woods with mom Tara. As many of you know, that’s what they do every day (except when it’s face-to-face parkrun day, of course). What we didn’t realize is that they really get out EVERY day. This was Day 1,000 of their run streak. Wow.

Meanwhile, we recently shared that Joan Heffernan was pursuing the goal of running the full 5K distance before reaching her 70th birthday at the end of the year. And this week she did it! With months to spare. Let’s just say that cheers were heard at CPVp HQ when Joan shared this news via email.


Congrats to Joan on achieving her goal!


This week 10 humans and 1 barkrunner earned a ten timer turtle badge in the results table.

Dale Morey, Jeremy Rueter, Carlos Chaverri-Morales, Jen Murphy, Bud Verge, Joe Fox, Louise Godley, Judy Barnes, Shackleton (barkrunner), Eden Gray, Simon Wraight

And we handed out 9 more high five badges this week, taking the total to 174!

Uli Sauerland, Hannah Russell, Lisa Shiota, Lina Sauerland, Jim Cantwell, Joanne Smith, Anne L'Ecuyer, Michael Bevers, Maia Swisdak

There are a couple of families represented in both lists. Judy Barnes is a 10-timer while her daughter Hannah Russell is now a 5-timer.

A couple of weeks ago we noted how Louise Godley and Anne L’Ecuyer squeezed in a virtual parkrun around their wedding. And this week they completed their 10th and 5th CPVps, respectively. Unexpectedly, Colin and Andrea ran into Louise earlier this week in the bowels of the Maryland Stadium as they all took part in UMD’s mass COVID testing trial. With a mask and a hat, Louise would have been hard to spot, if Colin hadn’t learned to recognize tightly wrapped parkrunners out on the trail on freezing winter mornings. These days when we mostly see other people through screens it can be such a pleasure to come across parkrunners in real life!

Uli Sauerland and his daughter Lina both joined the high five club this week from Berlin, Germany. As far as we can tell, they are getting in their regular CPVps separately, but always with mom Kazuko. Uli takes the early shift, running around town with Kazuko. And Lina (and sister Mika) take the later shift, which somehow always seems to incorporate an ice cream shop. Good work if you can get it!

Finally, a special shout out is in order for Shackleton, who we think is the first barkrunner to join our 10-timer club. We’re not sure if he has met an actual turtle on the trail, or how he would react if he met one.

And we ring the virtual PB bell for this week’s 13 first-timers. Welcome!

Kris Sooklal, Peter Rosenberg, Joan Richards Gordon, Rachel Smigielski, Kim Frum, Judy Mason, Annie (barkrunner), Carmen O'Hagan, Christina Nichols, Cindy Wadsworth, Liz Benson, Svetlana Stanaford, Henry Stanaford.

Judy Mason got in an early walk near home in Bethesda. It was too hot to run. Judy is a regular runner and volunteer at our sister parkrun event in Kensington, and we look forward to welcoming more Kp friends to future CPVps.

Kris Sooklal, Rachel Smigieski and Kim Frum joined via the (not)parkrun system. Welcome!

And a special welcome to first-time barkrunner Annie, who took a walk with her human Stephanie Goldstein on the Roosevelt Island boardwalk. Why is this so special? Because it was only one day earlier that the adoption papers were signed and these two became a family. Perfect!


Welcome to the Roosevelt Island boardwalk, Annie!

Virtual Volunteers

This week we were thrilled to have more virtual volunteers than usual. It makes such a difference to have a team working together on different pieces of the event. It might look effortless on the surface, but there’s much paddling happening under the water.

This week Tara Mease and Anna Tinnemore were both at work behind the scenes helping to make our collecting and sharing of activities and stories more robust. Reliably tracking the growing amount of information each week takes some skill to manage, and Tara and Anna have those skills.

Jen Matis, Angela Gentile, Nick Huang, and Hannah Russell all played key roles this week in gathering and curating activities and stories, together with Joyce Adams, who regularly curates the contributions from our partners at Roosevelt Island parkrun.

And we had a new volunteer role this week -- coffee host! Anna Weber hosted the pre/post-parkrun online coffee chat for Roosevelt Island parkrun, and that strikes us as a great idea for a role that can be shared around from week to week (and among different sub-communities, too). Thank you, Anna!


Anna hosted the Roosevelt Island crew coffee meetup this week. Anybody want to do coffee hosting in the future? 

Looking Ahead

When we started CPVp we had little idea how long this format would continue. Maybe it would flop in the first week. Maybe old-style parkruns would return by the fall. Now, as the course of the pandemic across the US continues on its disastrous path, an early 2021 return seems increasingly optimistic. This is feeling less like a stop gap and more like the new normal.

At this point, in the space of two and a half months we have gathered around 2,000 activities from 445 individual participants. That’s already more than 10% of the activity ever recorded at CP parkrun since 2016. And we’re likely to see thousands more activities by the time we get back to “old normal”, all without the benefit of the regular parkrun database. To this end we’re looking for ways to ensure that CPVp is as sustainable and inclusive as possible. Some of this involves the way that things happen behind the scenes. Some of it involves looking for ways to ensure that there is broad community ownership of the event, so that as many people as possible can contribute, and also feel that they belong.


This weekend last year was a scorcher. UMD grad students Neha and Yogarshi enjoyed the popsicles that parkrunners brought along.


One year later -- another scorcher. Yogarshi and Neha went in search of popsicles again

One thing that we’re thinking about a lot these days is how College Park will handle the surge of new residents and new community members over the next 4-6 weeks. Normally, we are accustomed to the seasonal flow of thousands of students and others arriving and leaving each year. There is always a degree of separation and suspicion that divides different parts of the local community. But everybody takes it in their stride, and at CP parkrun we try to be one small part of the effort to help people connect in a third place. [See the criteria for third places in this wikipedia entry.]

But 2020 could be different.

There will still be thousands of people coming to town, many for the first time. Student life will not be like normal. Activities will be more limited and more monitored. Most classes at UMD will be online. Many local employees will still be working remotely, many of them juggling the demands of work with remote schooling for their children. The large international population -- those who are even able to get into the country -- will be nervous about whether they are as welcome here as they once thought. Student gatherings that in the past have been seen as a nuisance by local residents will instead be seen as a grave health danger. And while more interaction is happening through online meetings than in person conversation, there’s a risk of heightened cross-generation tension. Students may see faculty as old people behind Zoom screens, and may barely see local residents at all. Maybe as faces hidden behind masks at the grocery store or in the dining hall. And of course there are many other broader forces invested in pulling us apart, especially in the lead up to November.

Against this backdrop, anything that we can do to help connect people and build trust is so valuable. We would love to hear from you if you have ideas about how we, as individuals or as a group, can help to welcome some of the many new people in our community, as it will be more important than ever before.

In more hopeful news, we’d like to thank all of you who filled out the recent survey about the planned Paint Branch Riverwalk project, spearheaded by our friends at the College Park City-University Partnership. The plan is to make improvements to the area around the Paint Branch Stream and Trail, roughly between The Board and Brew and our parkrun start/finish. A couple of us took part in a focus group about the project this past week, together with representatives from other community groups. The team that’s consulting on the project had heard a LOT of great input from the CP parkrun community via the survey, and they are looking at suggesting a lot of things that will make our favorite trails even better in years to come. Hopefully this will include trails on both sides of the Paint Branch stream and more ways to connect with the banks of the stream.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Post-run recovery for the PGRC crew


Unexpected encounter on Baltimore Ave


Lisa's new kicks put a spring in her stride


Post CPVp coffee meetup


The weather looks a little better in Gloucestershire, UK where Adrian and Stella did their CPVp. Temps in the high 60s. We'll take it!


Join us for the next leg of our Appalachian Trail tour next Saturday