Return of the Jedi (Virtual Report 30)

Light may be starting to appear at the end of this dark tunnel. But there’s still plenty of darkness left to navigate. We’ll have much more thanking to do in the coming week. But we are glad that CP Virtual parkrun has been one of the lanterns that has helped us through this year.

This week was a case in point. The pandemic is hitting Maryland hard as fall turns towards winter. More parts of life are closing down again. One parkrunner learned of the passing of a family member due to COVID during their run this week. Things are rough right now.

But at the same time you inspired us with your smiles, with your creative pictures and observations, with your support for friends and family, and with your funny hats. Some of you ran further or faster than ever. Others reached milestones or joined us for the first time. A few people were returning after injury. We had many reasons to look on the brighter side. Not to mention that the timeline for the retreat of the pandemic is starting to look clearer.

So what went down at CP Virtual parkrun #30? Yes, it’s thirty weeks already.




Great to see Gus Campbell back on the trail this week

Facts and Figures

  • 163 virtual parkrunners
  • 630 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 5 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 7 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 5 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 12 barkrunners
  • 5 virtual volunteers

Stat of the week: On Thanksgiving 2019, College Park parkrun saw a record number of finishers -- 249 in total -- with visitors from other states and even other corners of the world, including Australia and Europe. It seemed rather exotic.

Who would have thought that welcoming regulars from around the country and around the world would be a rather normal thing in 2020!



Wait, that's not the virtual Lisa. It's the REAL Lisa!

Return of the Jedi

There were a few familiar faces who haven’t been seen at Acredale Park in a while. Barkrunner Sophie was excited to see some old friends.

Sam Phipps was also back at the trail. Though he might not have been entirely sure of that, as his glasses were fogged up behind his mask.

They were there for a reason, to support Katie Hirsche in another successful tilt at a new female course record for CP parkrun. Sam’s role: pacer, together with Brian Murphy and Tomas Marambio.


Katie's pace crew. All in black, with masks. Welcome to 2020, folks!

Sophie’s role: look sad when she couldn’t sprint off down the trail with the runners. Then perk right up when she got to chase frisbees after the run.


Welcome back, Sophie!

It worked! Katie and Sam finished together in 18:34, taking just one second from Katie’s course record set just a month ago. Congratulations, Katie! For Sam it was a welcome return to speedy running after injury. And for Tomas it was his fastest 5K since February. He has been a regular CPVPer throughout the pandemic, but it’s easier to go faster when there are folks to chase.


New female course record for Katie (18:34). Return to fast running for Sam.

Other returners this week included Ann Robinson in Mansfield, OH, who is back in action after ankle surgery, and was able to walk a couple of miles. And in Washington DC Michelle Brandy got in her first run with us since a fall on the Wilson Bridge on Labor Day put her out of commission.


Welcome back from surgery, Ann

We’re not quite sure what the opposite of a comeback is, but Simon Wraight and Paul Wester’s running streaks might count. Simon’s Saturday run completed a 2-year streak of uninterrupted running every day. Paul is just a couple of days away from completing a whole year of getting outside every day. In all weathers. Often in the dark.


Paul's 1-year run streak is almost complete. He has the BEST collection of UMD masks.

Joe Fox got out to the track to lay down his first ever sub 30-minute 5K.

And Neha Josh completed her first ever 10km run.

Congratulations to all!


First sub 30 for Joe!


Because we can’t travel to new places right now, we always enjoy stories (and pictures) from our parkrun community all over the world. It’s a good way to live vicariously while we’re stuck at home!

Meridith Phillips was in Nags Head, NC, running along the beach, with only a few stops along the way to pick up shells.


No need to hurry with views like this

Eddie Matus ran along the coast in Montevideo, Uruguay, managing to run under 25 minutes even against the wind.


Or like this

Stefano Gazzano took some lovely pictures while on a night time run in Civitavecchia, Italy.


Or like this. In fact, how about a little something to eat?

Külli Crespin ran on her treadmill to practice social distancing, but was missing the parkrun community. Her solution? Run while watching a video of parkrun! This particular one is from Rickmansworth, England.


Whoa. Looks a little crowded at the start of Külli's CPVp this week. Watching a parkrun video while running on your treadmill in a virtual parkrun is like double-virtual parkrun.

Mike and Bonnie McClellan and Anna Tinnemore were out on the Paint Branch Trail as usual for an early 5K before most other parkrunners arrived. But this week they tested out a new route. With the new connector trail that links to their neighborhood, they no longer need to drive to the park. They can simply head out of the front door. Nice!

Jenny Kent is a strong contender for “most civilized virtual parkrun” of the week. She went for a 5 mile walk with a friend, followed by tea and ice cream. The walk went by the Stapleford Park estate in Melton Mowbray, UK, complete with an idyllic thatched cottage.


Looks like the set for a Miss Marple murder. But it's the route for Jenny Kent's virtual parkrun this week. Not forgetting the tea and ice cream. We approve!

Watkins Regional Park has their annual Festival of Lights display starting the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year they held a socially distanced version of their popular annual Trot for a Turkey 5K, which is a unique event running in the dark under the light displays. We heard from a few parkrunners who were there. They included Joanne Smith and Ginny Fromel, plus barkrunner Lizzie, and Team Aguilera Kelley, who were looking especially dashing in their light-up turkey hats. (We look forward to seeing those hats at a CP parkrun on the regular trail one day in the future.)


The award for best headgear of the week goes to Team Aguilera Kelley.

Meanwhile, Team Lemon was again feeling very appreciative of Grandma. Fiona and Daschiell got to enjoy the playground, while mom and dad got to enjoy runs sans stroller along Rock Creek.


Starting your virtual parkrun at a playground is a GREAT idea!

Losses and in memoriam

Anne L’Ecuyer would normally be in Tucson, AZ this time of year, cheering on family as they bike the Tour de Tucson in memory of her brother, Paul. This year since she couldn’t be there in person, she ran Sligo Creek and had The Cars on rotation.


Anne ran in memory of her brother Paul

Our Melton Mowbray parkrun friends were holding their annual “purple day”, virtually of course. This a celebration of ever-present volunteer Ray Walker who passed away a couple of years ago after a short bout with pancreatic cancer. This Saturday is the first one after World Pancreatic Cancer Day, and purple is the anointed color. Melton parkrunner (and also uber-volunteer) Nina Snowling ran their course dressed in purple, and also passed by the park bench that the parkrunners erected overlooking the end of their course. Lovely.


Nina wore her purple shirt ... actually, it's her "Nina's Hill" shirt. We think it's the Melton Mowbray equivalent of Hump's Crossing. With less beard.



Melton Mowbray parkrunners erected this bench in memory of a much loved volunteer

We also know that losses are happening all around us right now. One parkrunner received the news during their run this week that a grandparent had died from COVID. We know that many others are struggling, or have relatives who are sick or afraid. It’s hard right now. Let’s hope that we can make it through these next few months.

Milestones and More

This week saw THREE first-time CPVpers. Welcome to Andrea Maas, a.k.a. Carly’s mom, who joined from Greensboro, NC. Andrea shared that she and some buddies do regular Saturday morning runs then gather outdoors around a fire pit in the evening to trade stories. Sounds perfect!


We don't have a picture of Andrea Maas. But we figured she'd be happy to see a picture of daughter Carly zooming along the trail. Welcome, Andrea!

Thomas Symer must have been inspired by dad Derek and sister Lilian’s appearance on our Thanksgiving flyer, as he joined them on the Paint Branch Trail this week for their first CPVp.


Team Symer enjoying the Paint Branch Trail

And last but not least, we were joined by new barkrunner Belle, who enjoyed a walk with her barkrunner pal Tuffi in Rehoboth, DE.


Ten-timer Tuffi got to do a virtual parkrun with new barkrunner Belle.

Welcome, and we hope to see all of you again!

FIVE parkrunners earned high-five badges for their 5th CPVp. We already mentioned that Michelle Brandy was returning from injury. Becky Widman was out enjoying the awesome running weather. Megan Newcombe took a stroll with barkrunner Pakora. And Patty Hall took a stroll with barkrunner Jude.


Patty and barkrunner Jude enjoying the trail

SEVEN earned their 10-timer turtle badges: Mika Sauerland, Janel Niska, Jim Linn, Paolo Giulio Gazzano, Sam Phipps, barkrunner Tuffi, and Jessica Rosenberg.

Mika joined her mom Kazuko Yatushiro for a lap around the Schlachtensee lake in western Berlin, which looks rather pretty.


Schlachtensee in Berlin. 5K per loop. Great place for Mika to earn her turtle badge.

We’re thrilled to see that Jessica has now reached her 10th CPVp. She now runs regularly with her son Peter, occasionally with husband Brian along for the ride, around their neighborhood in Mechanicsburg, PA. We hope that they will all come visit uncle Duane in DC some time. Especially if it is on a Saturday, when we’re able to come together again.

This week we conferred FIVE new 25-timer badges. Alyssa Heintzelman is back in College Park after an unusual semester at college in St Mary’s City, where she has continued to fly the CPVp flag. Külli Crespin has continued flying the CPVp flag throughout the pandemic, even during a few weeks back home in Estonia. And Lucy Younes has been a regular smiling presence on the trail, usually with sidekick Laurie Fisher.

Special kudos to Samantha and Mary Clare Schneider, who were this week’s “virutal tailwalkers” on their 25th CPVp, completing the 5K in 1h52. We gather that they may have been held up by little brother James, who fell while practicing his walking skills and had to go to Urgent Care. The poor boy may have his first running injury at the age of only 18 months! Anyway, it is very impressive for Samantha and Mary Clare to have already completed 25 5Ks in CPVp. Samantha already had 23 “classic” parkruns to her name before COVID. That’s nearly 50. Meanwhile, Mary Clare has no official parkruns to her name, despite completing the course a few times. This is because she turned 4 years old early in the pandemic. At this rate, Mary Clare is on track to being the first person ever, in the history of the planet, to be a 50-timer before completing her first official parkrun.


Looking good, Team Schneider. 25th CPVp for Mary Clare and Samantha. And a 1.5 mile hobble for Erin as she recovers from surgery. (And: nice MCM mask, Erin!)

Virtual Volunteers

We are grateful to this week’s virtual volunteer crew:

Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: communications and report
Hannah Russell: report
Andrea Zukowski: email and photography

We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to spend a little time on a chilly future weekend helping out with a future CPVp. It’s uplifting and fun. Most of the action is in collecting the activities, stories and pictures that come in via our various channels on Saturday, sorting them, and organizing them into the results table and report that you see here. Drop us a line!


Thanks to virtual volunteer Hannah for much help with these reports. And we're learning that the pocket park behind The Board and Brew is a pretty nice spot.

Looking Ahead

At the start of the pandemic we had little idea of what to expect. We had little clue of how bad the effects of the virus would be. We were either naive or in denial about how long it would take to get back to normal.

As we enter the winter, many things are becoming clearer about the coronavirus. We know that the coming months will be hard. We know that some of us are more vulnerable than others. We also know that even younger folks can suffer dire long-term effects, though we don’t know why. We know a lot about how to be careful and reduce transmission. We also know that some are actively working against effective public health measures.

Locally, in Maryland and the DMV, we are “lucky” to be doing better than much of the country, thanks to sensible actions by the population and by state and local leaders. But things are still bad and getting worse.

We would like to give a shout out to our friends at The Board and Brew, who announced on Thursday that they will be closed for a few days in response to an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The caution and transparency is important and it is appreciated. It makes us feel all the better about continuing to support this independent local business once they are open again.

After 30 CPVps, a remarkable 75 of you have already earned 25-timer badges. We have been wondering whether to make plans to recognize 50-timers, starting in April. Our current guess is that we will, but that prospects for a return to face-to-face events might be better by late spring. This assumes that the vaccines are as promising as current results indicate, and that strong early uptake sharply reduces community transmission, leading states and counties to open up in the spring.

We are probably most of the way through our virtual phase. Though maybe not by a lot. And we have SO MUCH enjoyed the new community members that we have welcomed from far away that we won’t be eager to give those up.


Rebecca and Joe White enjoying the trail (after showing Trace how to use a leaf blower)

So, what’s happening at CPVp in the near term? Business as usual. With cooler weather. And with holidays to celebrate safely.

This week we have TWO CPVps to look forward to.

On Thursday November 26th we’ll have our first and onlyCollege Park Virtual Turkey Trot. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We hope. It’s just like CPVp, but on a Thursday.

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.

Some of you can muster a sizable team from the same household, between kids and barkrunners. Some of you have team members in faraway places. Team Rosenberg and Team Phillips-Zukowski are both taking on the challenge to join with family members from across the country or across the ocean.


Colin speed-walked his CPVp this week. Or is it sped-walk? He's hoping to recruit family members for Team Zukowski-Phillips for our Thanksgiving Day event. But other families will be formidable competition.

If you are in the College Park area, you are welcome to do your virtual Turkey Trot on the Paint Branch Trail. Come along at any time that suits you. The trail will not be crowded. There will be some Thanksgiving chalking on the trail. And there might be some other surprises along the trail, too.

For details see:

For those of you keeping track of your participation, we will have TWO CPVps, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. But we’ll bundle up the news into a single report, so that our report writers have a chance to breathe.

Looking further ahead to the end of December, we are starting to think about plans for those holidays. It’s unlikely that regular travel and family gatherings will be advisable at that time.

December 26th falls on a Saturday this year. It will also mark a milestone for College Park parkrun, as it will be our 250th event since we started tiny informal gatherings at the start of 2016. Watch this space for news about how we will be celebrating that.

We will have something (or other) special in store for New Years. Normally our January 1st CP parkrun would be our biggest of the year

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Win demonstrates good post-run stretching form


Tomas joined Katie's pacing crew, and ran his fastest 5K since February.stewart-mayhew-web

Stewart en route to his second fastest 5K ever.


Angela said that Shackleton was full of energy on their run this week


But he still had time to stop and check out the local wildlife


Looking good, Sharlene!


Pratyush discovered the Greenbelt National Park Perimeter Trail. He'll be back.nina-snowling-sun-web

This picture from Nina Snowling shows the sun does sometimes shine in England.louise-godley-web

Louise Godley baked this impressive looking loaf, which served as excellent recovery food.john-ramsey-web

John Ramsey ran into Cindy Conant at a 5K at Hains Point in DC.
John ran one of his fastest 5Ks in a while, around 23:30.
Cindy ran right around 20 minutes. Like John, she turns 60 in a few months. Wow.jen-murphy-web

Hi Jen!janel-niska-web

Janel earned her 10-timer turtle badge this week. heather-sisan-web

Heather hopping the curbs in Kensingtongail-sockwell-thompson-2-web

Lighting up the trail with their smilesellen-oberholtzer-blues-web

Ellen and Eli have the MOST cultured virtual parkruns. This week they took in a little jazz performance along the way. Like you do.bud-verge-web

Kudos to Bud Verge for getting in a walk as he recovers from injury. brian-murphy-web

Brian Murphy crosses the bridge with one mile to go, his pacing duties done.andrea-zukowski-web

This is the reason why we have such awesome photos from the Paint Branch Trail most weeks. Thank you to Andrea for being there with your camera. Thank you to everybody else for looking so good!

trace-huard-webSee you THURSDAY for our first -- and only -- CP Virtual Turkey Trot.
(If we're still shut down by next Thanksgiving, we're moving to New Zealand.)