End of the Trail (Virtual Report 14)

Every week we are surprised and warmed by the stories that you share with us. Sometimes they’re in the “Wait, what?” category of things we would never have guessed. Sometimes they’re simple things that help to keep us going.

In the first category: one of our virtual parkrunners this week was running around the mountains above Kathmandu, Nepal. Nilima Raut was a regular parkrunner at Roosevelt Island parkrun during 2019, and appreciates the chance to stay connected while far away.


We did not expect to be recording virtual parkruns in Nepal. Welcome Nilima!

In the second category: Janet Tate headed out for a walk near her home, and along the way she met Connie. They got to talking, and Janet told her about this friendly local community that she’s a part of, encouraging her to join us. Connie - we hope we’ll see you again!

As usual, we have so many more cool things to share with you about CP Virtual parkrun #14.




Janet met Connie on her walk. Perfect!

Facts and Figures

  • 194 virtual parkrunners
  • 900 miles covered
  • 22 first-timers
  • 9 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 5 new HIGH FIVES earned
  • 8 barkrunners
  • 8 (mostly) virtual volunteers


This week saw our second highest turnout to date. And people keep coming back. Here's a crazy statistic: as of now, 100 humans or pups have done CPVp 10 or more times. And 95 of them took part this week. Maybe that means you enjoy these virtual gatherings. Maybe it means that weekends just aren't very normal these days.


Louise and Anne are getting it done every week through the summer heat 

Live Coffee Returns!

The Board & Brew reopened on Friday evening after being closed since March. So of course we wanted to be there on Saturday morning!

Our experiment with a socially distanced meetup in the pocket park behind The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee was a success. Around 20 people came along. There was plenty of space. And good shade. And great conversation. And we were able to support local businesses.

If there’s interest, we can continue doing this through the month of August, then re-evaluate once the occupancy of The Varsity and The View swell at the start of UMD’s semester. Let us know what you think!


Great to see old friends on a Saturday morning


Andrea swears by the Vigilante açaí bowl. With our outdoor meetup, you can mix and match your favorites from The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee. Perfect!



Outdoor meetups are great for barkrunners, too. Trista is normally the only barkrunner allowed into TB&B, as she's a service dog. But now others can join. 


... such as Baxter, who was pretty excited to meet some new friends



Danny Walker joined us in the middle of a long bike ride


Great to see Team Barnes-Russell in person rather than via Zoom

Our Favorite Trail

If you go to the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday morning you are sure to see other parkrunners enjoying the trail: running, walking, alone or with friends. This week we found more people out there than we can remember since, we were doing regular parkruns.

Back in March we made a point of avoiding the trail, especially around 9am on a Saturday, as we didn’t want to be seen to be organizing rogue events that could undermine the public health effort. Nowadays we encourage you to use the trail. It’s a great place to walk or run, especially in the summer heat. And if you just come along at a time that suits you, there’s no risk of being caught in a crowd.


Phillips x 2 (unrelated)

And if you want to do an accurate 5K, there’s no better place. No traffic. Pretty much flat. Mostly shaded. And accurately marked and measured. They even train course measurers (yes, that’s a thing) on our course.

One challenge that comes along with frequent trail repairs is that it can be hard to know where the start/finish and turnaround are. So this weekend Lisa Wilson took care of that. Hump dropped her off at the park with a can of green paint, and Lisa refreshed the key markers, visiting “herself” along the way.


Lisa visited herself on the trail

Appalachian Trail Tour

After averaging 700 miles the past couple of weeks, it was going to be a stretch to cover the 800 miles remaining in our virtual Appalachian Trail tour. We started the day near the Hudson River in NY, and needed to traverse CT, MA, VT, and NH before a long stretch across Maine to the endpoint at Mt Katahdin.


Our target for the day. End of the 2180 mile Appalachian Trail

Thanks to Tara Mease’s spreadsheet wizardry, together with our dedicated results crew, it’s easy to track our total distance through the day. We got out to a strong start, quickly covering 400+ miles, but then things slowed and we thought we might wind up around 100 miles short of the target. Not even close! In the final reckoning, we together covered 900 miles, which would be enough to continue on from Katahdin to the Canadian border.

Valerie Silensky sent us pictures of Mt Katahdin, the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, from when she was nearby in December. Katahdin is close to the small town of Millinocket (pop. 4,500), and it’s the home of Valerie’s all-time favorite running event, the Millinocket Marathon and Half, held every December. We learned about it from Valerie’s stories at The Board and Brew, and it really does sound like an awesome event. The event was created to help support the local economy in this struggling mill town. It’s entirely free, and the organizers instead request that participants spend to help support local businesses. We love the event slogan: “Don’t run Millinocket for what you get; run Millinocket for what you give”.

Valerie reports that the vibe around the event is totally unlike other big races. It sounds awesome, and we’re putting it on our bucket list. Plus, right now the December temps in Maine sound pretty appealing.


Mt Katahdin in winter, courtesy of Valerie Silensky

Meanwhile, while most of us were covering the Appalachian Trail virtually, Dave and Alyssa Heintzelman were covering it actually. In fact, they covered the entire West Virginia section of the AT. Impressive! You might think that involved a lot of miles. It turns out it does not. The part of the AT inside WV is less than 5 miles long, heading south from Harper’s Ferry. But it’s not easy terrain, and that’s why Dave and Alyssa are this week’s virtual tailwalkers, with a 5k-adjusted time of 1h41.


Dave and Alyssa covered the entire WV section of the AT


In addition to Nilima Raut’s 12 miles in the mountains near Kathmandu, Nepal (Nilima even brought her parkrun barcode along), we were grateful to some parkrunners who were getting in some big miles towards our distance target far away from College Park … and hopefully in gentler weather.

Robin Phillips put in a big pull in Bristol, UK, covering 27 miles in total. Robin is still in training (kind of) for the London Marathon, which was postponed from April to October, and is the one big marathon of the year that has yet to be canceled.

Cory Kind, Adam Gann, and barkrunner Walker visited the Birwood Wall in Detroit, MI. It was “constructed in 1941 as a physical barrier between a new white subdivision and neighboring Black neighborhoods. It has since been reclaimed as a public art project highlighting equality and community.” They covered over 30 miles between them.


Birwood Wall in Detroit, MI. Good repurposing of a painful piece of history.

Adrian & Stella Dover put in a combined 20 miles on a walk between Grasmere and Ambleside in the Lake District of northern England. These trails were well known to the poet William Wordworth (see The Guardian’s piece on the Wordsworth walk), who said that the area was “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.”


Ok, Adrian and Stella, we are super jealous of your CPVp route this week!


Wordsworth had a point


We wouldn’t normally make much of the fastest 5K at CPVp, but we’ll make an exception this week. Keaton Ellis went down to his old high school track and ran his first ever sub-20 5K. Nice!


Everyone's a winner at parkrun, but this week Keaton was the fastest winner

It turns out there was a bit of a lead pack this week, as Colin Phillips and Tomas Marambio were hot on Keaton’s heels. But Colin confirms that his time deserves a big fat asterisk next to it. “It was more of an interval session, really. I saw SO MANY parkrunners out on the trail today, and it was a great excuse to stop and say hi and take pictures.”

One of the nice surprises on Colin’s run was seeing Steve Hendrix and Jim Sebastian. You may recall that in Week 1 of CPVp Steve joined us from Jerusalem, Israel, where he is currently based for the Washington Post. (You can see some of his reporting here.) So it was quite a surprise to see him on the trail in College Park.


Not quite as surprising, but just as delightful an encounter: Team McElhenny, all 5 of them, went for a run together on the regular parkrun course. The “together” part is noteworthy here, as the 37-minute time for this crew amounts to a TEN MINUTE PB for Theodore and dad John, both times set on our last day of regular parkrunning on March 7th, a day when we celebrated Mariella McElhenny’s 10-parkrun milestone.


Team McElhenny, with the ladies pacing John and Theodore to huge PBs

Isaiah Dycks ran a PB *again*; now he’s at 28:26. Malik keeps expecting him to plateau, but Isaiah just keeps getting faster!


Isaiah and his support crew, ready for yet another PB!

Brian Rosenberg tried a new challenge this week, joining from Mechanicsburg, PA. He had noticed that his uncle Duane generally finished his 5K in about the same time. So he tried to match Duane’s time, so that they would appear next to each other in the results table. They came so close! But Malik Al-Jame snuck in between them, inadvertently. That sounds like a fun challenge to try with a friend or family member. Run apart, but try to finish in the same time. No peeking at the watch along the way, of course.

In Michigan, Janet Grudzien John and her dad Mark Grudzien got the weekend off to a good start by doing their longest walk together, 8.5 miles. The pandemic has prevented us from doing many things, but we love how it is also helping some families to spend good time together.


Janet and Mark enjoyed their longest walk together


This week we get to celebrate a healthy mix of new badges for regular virtual parkrunners and first-timers.

9 more people now have a turtle next to their name in the weekly results. Clearly a good reward for getting out to exercise 10 times in this swampy summer weather.

Tomas Marambio, Pratyush Tiwary, Chris Anderson, Catherine Spirito, Clare Imholtz, Derek Symer, Pete Monacelli, Pete Poremba, Julie Russell

Clare Imholtz did her 10th CPVp taking a walk with first-timer August on the beach at Corolla, NC, just a few short miles from Kill Devil Hills, which we ‘visited’ in last week’s report.



Clare and August enjoyed a walk on the beach in Corolla, NC

Pete Poremba is another new 10-timer who brought along a new recruit this week, too. Pete and his daughter Caitlin continued their exploration of the canal towpaths near their home in Canton, OH. So Ginny Poremba took a walk while the rest of the family was running, and added a couple of miles to our weekly total. We enjoy reading Pete’s reports on his weekly explorations, and we’re learning about lots of places in eastern Ohio where it would be cool to run in the future.

We have 5 new earners of High Five badges: Darrell Stanaford, Aaliyah El-Amin, Michael Iati, Kristin Sturgill, Joe White

Darrell is the founder of both Roosevelt Island parkrun and Anacostia parkrun, and more recently he is a regular at Leakin Park parkrun. But right now he’s doing his virtual parkrunning on the opposite side of the country.

Michael Iati is another parkrun widow(er) who has been dragged into the fray during the pandemic. This week he and Dominique Blom got in their exercise while traveling near Akron, OH. We *so* hope that we’ll be able to welcome some of these new parkrunners to the trail once we’re back to normal.


Michael and Dom did their CPVp in Akron, OH

And especially exciting for us this week was the 22 first-timers, the largest group of newcomers since May. Welcome!

Dami Alao, Cameron Bernhardt, John McElhenny, Theodore McElhenny, Ginny Fromel, Michelle Brandy, Leanna Bernard, Ontiveros (barkrunner), Randy Ontiveros, Sally N, August Imholtz, Jim Sebastian, Nilima Raut, Randy Ski, Connie, Ginny Poremba, Mike Zukowski, Romana Rychlikova, Helena Taylor, Pavlina Ittelson, Iva Weinstein, Katarina Gabaniova

Michelle Brandy is a familiar face on the Paint Branch Trail on regular parkrun Saturdays, so we were delighted to see her smile show up in this week’s Facebook thread.


Welcome to CPVp, Michelle!

Sally N is a regular at Kensington parkrun who we are delighted to see in this week’s results. We know that our Kensington friends are missing their Saturday morning meetups as much as we are, and we’re happy to see more Kensingtonians taking part in CPVp.

Jen Matis recruited her husband Travis Miller to join us this week. He’s currently working up to full 5K, and we imagine that he’ll be there in no time.


No picture from Travis's CPVp, but Jen sent us this lovely picture from her walk in Greenbelt National Park

A few of the names of the first timers are incomplete. Please help us to correct them if you know the right name.

And we’d like to give a special shout out to Mike Zukowski, Andrea’s brother. He joined us by getting in a walk around the hospital where he works in Detroit, MI. Mike has been following our community online, and he wanted to join our celebration of the reopening of The Board and Brew, so he called them to arrange for a generous gift card, which we look forward to sharing with parkrunners in the coming weeks.

Virtual Volunteers

This week we had a seasoned crew of 8 (mostly) virtual volunteers. CPVp simply would not be possible if it wasn’t for the volunteer support every week.

Tara Mease and Anna Tinnemore have continued to ensure that we have the back end tools in place to collect and share information about thousands of virtual parkruns. It’s invisible on the surface, but this week Tara made a big upgrade to our results system, which should make it easier for us to keep going and keep growing.

Angela Gentile stepped forward again to join the results collection team. Typically Angela would also be getting out for a run around town with barkrunner Shackleton. But Shack was still on strike this week, so Angela had to strike out alone. At least she had the virtual companionship of her dad Tom, though Tom was doing his walk on the Eastern Shore this weekend.


One tired parkrunner, one striking barkrunner

Hannah Russell and Andrea Zukowski helped gather the pictures and stories that Colin Phillips edited into this report.

And for anything related to the Roosevelt Island parkrun community, we have Joyce Adams to thank. This week was already Joyce’s tenth as a CPVp volunteer, and we think the RI community may have had a record turnout, so that is wonderful to see. Thank you, Joyce!

The non-virtual part of this week’s volunteering was Lisa Wilson, scouting the trail with her can of green paint. This will be increasingly valuable as more people use the Paint Branch Trail.

Can you join us as a virtual volunteer some time in August? Most of the roles involve some part of organizing the information that pours in every Saturday, and turning it into something that we can share with everyone by Sunday. Timing is flexible, and no special skills are needed.


Don't fear this turtle, seen on Rebecca, Joe, and Olivia's CPVp

Looking Ahead

When will we be back to “normal”? Frankly, we have no idea, but it’s not likely to be any time soon. We’re likely to be virtual for the rest of 2020.

This week’s update from parkrun Global hinted that there are plans afoot to restart parkruns in the UK in a way that would meet current public health guidelines there. That set off some salivating among parkrunners on the other side of the pond. But this might already be moot, since the UK is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases and is already pressing the brakes on its reopening. In any case, the US is way behind the UK in terms of pandemic control.

Over the next couple of months, the main thing we’ll be looking out for in the CPVp community is the same thing that will face College Park as a whole: how to continue to stay active and support each other while in that middle space between lockdown and normal life. College Park has seen a dramatic thinning of its population and human movement for 5 months. In a couple of weeks the population will again swell as people return to UMD, albeit in a far-from-normal mode, with a mix of in person and online life. And a need to work a bit harder to make newcomers feel at home. With CPVp we’re in a similar situation: we can see each other on the trails, and we can meet up for socially distanced outdoor coffee, but we’re still mostly relying on electronic communication to learn about what everybody is up to. And it’s harder to connect with newcomers. So, we’ll be working on that. And we don’t want to ignore the many friends who we’ve been able to connect with in far away places during the pandemic.

Thanks as always for all that you do to keep supporting each other and helping to make this a healthy, connected community.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Team Schneider were enjoying the cooler conditions in the Adirondacks this week. Long sleeves, sweatshirts - wow!


Captain Jack was showing off his stylish new bandanna this week, running with Mary in NJ


Barkrunner Eli continued his cultural tour of Riverdale Park and area. This week: a picture of the Ercoupe airplane featured in last week's report.


Eddie Matus had to stop his run to admire this bird