Piano Man (Virtual Report 29)

Frank Snyder does not like to miss his weekly 5k for College Park Virtual parkrun. 77-year old Frank earned his red 50-timer shirt at the start of 2020. Since the spring he has been mostly confined to running the paths around the assisted living facility where he lives in Gaithersburg, MD. He has joined us every single week since CPVp started in May.

This week presented an additional challenge. Here’s what Frank shared with us:

“On Monday, I was trace quarantined for one week. Not wanting to miss my Saturday 5k run, I measured the longest straightaway in my house, from the living room piano to the bedroom dresser. Then I used that distance (2x84ft) to calculate laps for 5k. I did 98 laps in a time of 43:17. There were 196 turns.”

Hats off to Frank on this accomplishment. And we hope that he is able to safely exit quarantine soon.

Fortunately, most of you did not face such obstacles, and were able to enjoy a fine fall day if you were in the DMV area. Or were able to make the most of whatever kind of day was thrown at you, wherever you were, from Honolulu to Rome.

So, what happened out there this weekend?



Facts and Figures

  • 174 virtual parkrunners
  • 770 miles covered
  • 7 first-timers
  • 7 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 5 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 7 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 6 virtual volunteers

Stat of the week: Over 600 different individuals have now taken part in College Park Virtual parkrun since we started in May. Over 250 of those have earned a (coveted!) high five badge.



One advantage of CPVp - you can run at dusk instead. This picture of Lake Artemesia is from second-timer MarIángel Villalobos

We are family

This week’s chalk message says it all …


There were lots of family feels this week at CP Virtual parkrun.

Team McElhenny -- that’s Kate, John, Mariella, Gwyneth, and Theodore -- were out in force this week on the Paint Branch Trail. (And Kate and Mariella earned their high five badges for CPVp.)


Team McElhenny was out in force this week

Elmer Hernandez has started to bring the family along, and they are enjoying the trail together, whether on foot or by scooter.



Team Hernandez enjoyed the trail, running, walking, and scooting

No group pics this week for Team Schneider, but Erin reports that she is now able to (gingerly) walk a mile after her foot surgery. And young James also “toddled a lot” while dad and big sisters did another 5K together.

Team Lemon had extra hands this week, as Grandma came along to the trail and pushed baby Dashiell in his stroller. 3-year old Fiona wanted to take a picture of mom Michelle running, which is how we got this picture from an unusual vantage point.


Watch out Andrea, there's a new paparazzi on the trail

Team Rosenberg managed SEVEN virtual parkrunners again this week, spread across Maryland (Duane), Pennsylvania (Peter, Jessica, and Brian), and Iowa (Dave, Diane, and barkrunner Tank).

Team Wojahn had participants in College Park (Patrick) and Green Bay, WI (Karen, Dennis), where it was not quite as mild and sunny as in College Park this weekend.


Dennis, Karen, and Patrick Wojahn joined from Green Bay, WI and College Park

There’s another line in that Sister Sledge song that we had always mis-parsed until today. It’s kind of relevant to pandemic parkrunning:

All of the people around us they say
Can we be that close?

Well, right now we probably can’t. And, in fact, we’re not. This week’s CPVp participants were spread across 11 time zones, from Rome, Italy to Honolulu, Hawaii. Normally many of us would be gearing up right now for some big family travel plans for Thanksgiving. But there will be rather less of that this year. See below for more on our Thanksgiving plans.


Janet Grudzien John's 10K race was supposed to be in March, in Rhode Island. She has since moved to Honolulu. No problem taking part in the delayed virtual event in November.

In the Media

Last week we heard that after her regular CPVp with Shackleton Angela Gentile set out with TJ Hool to drive north towards Wilmington, DE. There were rumors of a big party that evening. You may have heard about it.

It seems that Angela and TJ overshot their destination, as they surfaced in a story in Slate Magazine, eating cheesesteaks in Philly and taking selfies at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

The other Four Seasons has become a Philly hot spot. [Slate]

We’re not sure whether TJ snuck in a walk that could count for a CPVp, but FSTL would rank up with Luray Caverns and the Cape May - Lewes ferry among the best venues ever for a virtual parkrun.


Shackleton is a four seasons barkrunner


Meanwhile, in more local media, there is a story about trails and parkrunners in the November edition of College Park Here and Now, the new local newspaper. The story is mostly about our wonderful local trails. But it also features the story of how parkrunner Pratyush Tiwary found a pacer for his virtual marathon in a very College Park kind of way.

The CPH&N story is a little hard to read online via issuu. So we put a copy here on our blog, with extra pictures.

College Park’s trails are a regional hub. [College Park Here and Now]

We like the story. … But we’re biased, as we wrote it.


Check out our new story in College Park Here and Now

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed SIX first-timers to CPVp: John MacLean, Mychal Sterling, Rube Ahmed, Greg Ervin, Hal Gann, Susan Matchett.

John MacLean met up with CPVp and CPp regular John Maneval, and they checked out the Paint Branch Trail and the new College Park Woods connector.


John M introduced John M to the Paint Branch Trail

Mychal joined up with David Lai and Malik Al-Jame to get in a cool 10 miler around College Park.


Welcome Mychal!

Greg is based in Ohio, but he was a regular visitor to CPp in the Beforetimes, always joining us if he was in town on Saturday.

And Hal and Susan enjoyed a walk in Detroit with CPVp regulars Cory, Adam, and barkrunner Walker.

We had SEVEN new high-five badges to celebrate: Sharyn Gordon, Mariella McElhenny, Kate McElhenny, Eileen Sullivan, Dustyn Kujawa, and barkrunners Tank and Scruffi.



Dustyn and Eileen earned their high-five badges

And we conferred SIX new ten-timer turtle badges this week: Nina McGranahan, Elizabeth Cooper, Dan Owen, Stella Dover, Kristen Maneval, and Melanie Barzik.

We’re thrilled to see Stella Dover join the 10-timer club, taking a walk with Adrian in the woods near Ross-on-Wye, in the English-Welsh borderlands. When they are back in the US, we look forward to welcoming both Adrian AND Stella to College Park, so that Stella need not be a CP parkrun widow on Saturdays.

We’re just as happy to see Kristen Maneval in the 10-timer list. Husband John is a regular at CPp. Kristen has taken up more regular running during the pandemic, and has been making great progress.

We’re not sure if it was the great running weather or the thrill of earning a turtle badge, but Melanie was jumping for joy this week.



And we had another SEVEN 25-timer badges to award (cake, anybody?): Dominique Lisiero, Derek Symer, Chris Anderson, Joel Goldberg, Jen Murphy, Erin Saddler, Yogarshi Vyas.

We are thrilled that so many of you make CPVp a regular part of your weekend activity.


Derek is among this week's new 25-timers

Miscellaneous Kudos

Some of you took advantage of the weather to lay down some faster miles this week.

Lori Dominick was feeling pumped that her 48:xx 5K is her fastest since early 2019. Which is, roughly, 27 years ago, if our math is correct.


Paul Wester was feeling pretty good about running a couple of sub-11 minute miles for the first time in eons. He celebrated by covering another 4.5 miles at a more comfortable pace. We are also counting down the days until Paul’s running streak reaches 365 days. Just a few more days to go.

Michael Phipps celebrated Veterans Day by running his fastest ever 5K on the Mansfield, OH parkrun course.

Mike and Bonnie McClellan reached a milestone that they probably weren’t aware of. They have 163 years between them. And now they also have 163 parkruns between them (combining virtual and “classic”). Last week we thought they might have skipped a week when we didn’t see them out on the Paint Branch Trail in the early shift. But they checked in later in the day to let us know that they got in a strenuous 5K hike in the woods in West Virginia. Be like Mike! And Bonnie!


163 years, 163 parkruns

Cindy Cohen probably wins the award for the most squiggly CPVp this week, as well as the longest. She took part in the Rosaryville 50K in Upper Marlboro.


Definitely this week's squiggliest route. Anybody care to count whether there were more turns than in Frank Snyder's quarantine 5K?

Eddie Matus deserves an extra shout out for adding one more country to our list of CPVp venues.  His run in Montevideo, Uruguay, means that we now have seen CPVps completed in every continent aside from Antarctica.


Greetings from Uruguay!

Smelling the Roses

It’s not all about going as far or as fast as you can. Sometimes slowing it down helps you to enjoy things that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

We’re accustomed to seeing Sam Phipps zooming into the distance ahead of us. But he’s taking a sensible approach to return from injury, running alternate days. This week he checked in with a 4-mile nostalgia walk, checking out some of the routes near his childhood home in Severna Park where he first started running with his dad in 2007.

Colin Phillips wasn’t cautious enough in his return to running, so this week he walked a 5K on the Paint Branch Trail with Andrea … and her camera. Strava ‘generously’ recorded his time as 57 minutes, but it seems to have cut out a lot of time spent stopping to take photos and cheer passing parkrunners.


You meet all kinds of people along the trail

Anne L’Ecuyer tried switching off the headphones and enjoyed the sound of the rushing water on Sligo Creek instead.

Jenny Kent, joining us from Melton Mowbray, UK, definitely scores points in the “glass half full” category. The day was drizzly and the trail was muddy. But she enjoyed checking out the wildlife and taking photos. And she described the weather as “atmospheric”. Wonderful!




We know that some of you come here mostly for the barkrunners. You will not be disappointed this week.

Meet Mindy. She came along for coffee, together with her human John Ramsey. She knows that everyone’s welcome to join, even if you didn’t get to do a run or a walk. Mindy packs a LOT of attitude into a small body.


Welcome, Mindy!

Eli was visiting family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this weekend. He enjoyed a change of scene for his walk with Ellen. And he got to chill with his cousin Murphy. Nice!


Eli got to visit with his cousin Murphy

Scruffi and Tuffi were also enjoying a change of scene on the other side of the bay, checking out the sights in Rehoboth, DE.


Nothing like the feeling of sea breeze in your fur


Did somebody mention ducks?

Gifford enjoyed a 5-mile run in DC with Dan Owen.


Pakora took a walk at a civilized pace through Greenbelt National Park, together with Megan and Pratyush, before leaving Pratyush to head off for one of his crazy fast runs.


Pakora is neatly camouflaged by the fall leaves

Not forgetting the cats

We confess that our attention to barkrunners in these weekly reports could leave the impression that we do not appreciate the important role that cats play in keeping us all happy and healthy in this pandemic.

As a first step towards redressing this clear bias, here is Neha Joshi with Shadow after her CPVp. Neha got in a longer-than-usual run, in anticipation of enjoying a lot of carbs for this weekend’s Diwali celebration. We’re not sure whether Shadow will get extra treats, but we approve.


Shadow congratulates Neha on her run 

We also heard from Pebbles, who took a very short walk with Trace Huard. We’ll be honest, we’re not expecting to see many cats doing a 5K. Or even a 0.5K. We recognize that the felines are more focused on the social aspect of virtual parkrunning. Especially the rest and recovery, and possibly the regular stretching, too. All very important!

Do send more cat photos. We’re definitely not above that!


Pebbles is enjoying the new digs

Virtual Volunteers

This week’s virtual volunteer crew were:

Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Jen Matis; results (Facebook)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: communications and report
Anna Tinnemore: results
Andrea Zukowski: email and photography

It is a team effort to bring you CPVp every week. Join us some week if you can. It’s fun, and it can be done from the comfort of your couch.

We’d like to give a special shout out this week to virtual volunteer Jen Matis. Jen joined us for the first time one year ago this week. She completed 10 “classic” parkruns before the shutdown, and has been a regular runner, walker, volunteer, and all around cheerleader throughout the pandemic. Thank you, Jen!


Jen's first CPp, one year ago!

Looking Ahead

There may be light at the end of the tunnel. But there is a stretch of dark tunnel to navigate before we get to that point.

The start of the week brought encouraging news about a COVID vaccine. We may be months away from broader availability of one or more effective vaccines. That brings hope.

But the rest of the week saw the US COVID situation spiral downwards into a third wave that dwarfs the spring and summer waves. Maryland is seeing record numbers of infections, yet it is, at the time of writing, 39th in the nation in terms of infections per capita over the past week. That doesn’t mean that we’re doing well. It means that the country as a whole is doing really, really badly.

Locally, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County are tightening restrictions. Good! UMD is shifting course as of this weekend, announcing urgent COVID measures. Not because of a campus outbreak, but because of the level of risk in the community. Businesses that were starting to return will again see heightened risk. Families continue to struggle with home schooling.


So our normal discussion of when we’ll return to normal parkruns seems moot this week.

Instead, our focus is on staying active and connected while avoiding risky behaviors. Local officials report that a primary source of infections currently is small family and social gatherings. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and with it a risk of a massive super-spreader event. We love Thanksgiving … but let’s just not go there.

Normally we would be looking forward to hosting a big, crowded Thanksgiving morning parkrun at Acredale Park. Last year we saw a record crowd of 250 join us. That’s just not happening this year.


Thanksgiving CPVp - Thursday November 26th. Don't miss it!

But one of our favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it’s a massive day for running and walking. Around 1 million take part in Turkey Trots and similar events around the country, making a Thursday in late November the single biggest running day in the whole world. What we love even more is that the focus is not on racing to be fastest, or even on swag and medals, but on families getting active together.

Does that remind you of anything?

Here’s a piece that Colin wrote for the parkrun USA blog a couple of years ago.

The year-round turkey trot. [parkrun USA blog, 11/27/18]

So for Thanksgiving 2020, we’ll hold a special Thursday edition of CPVp, and we encourage you to team up with family or friends to take part, however far away you might be. Walk or run as much as seems right. It doesn’t need to be 5K. And tell us about it. Better yet, send us a selfie from wherever you are. See how many family members you can get to join you.

(We’ll also have our regular Saturday CPVps on November 21st and November 28th. We’ll collect separate sets of activities and results, but we’ll combine the two sets of Thanksgiving weekend activities into a single weekly report.)

Meanwhile, don’t forget that our friends at Kensington parkrun are moving ahead with their Sunday virtual Definitely Not A Kensington parkrun, including social-but-distanced coffee at La Gelatteria. If you want to join their fun, you can add your activity via their Google form.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team



Our lead photographer plying her trade


Hannah enjoyed exploring the trails near her new pad in DC


Sound advice. Also - floss. And wear a mask.



Social but distanced coffee. We found a sunnier spot this week.


In last week's report we wondered aloud how Stefano Gazzano found us. This week he explained: "I found you by internet. During the 1st lockdown in Italy I was looking for some virtual races and I found your web site (internet and Facebook). I liked it very much and you were so kind to accept me, my son and Nathan in your wonderful community: thank you again very much." You're welcome, Stefano! Here's Stefano's virtual tourism picture for this week. His run took him past the Roman ruins of La Frasca.

tunnel-webStay safe out there, everybody. See you again soon.