Back in the beforetimes, when we used to meet up en masse at 9am on Saturdays, we would start the morning at CP parkrun Towers with an early coffee and a check on some parkrun results from Europe or further east, to see what faraway friends had already been up to that morning. We would combine that with fixing any missing finisher tokens and writing to the day’s volunteer crew.
Nowadays it’s a bit different. Some of the locals have been out for their CPVp while most of us are still sleeping. We can check the CP parkrun club feed on Strava for some inspiration. And often there’s an email waiting for us with reports on folks in faraway places who are doing CPVp.
This week we were thrilled to receive an early morning message from Germany, from Lara Ehrenhofer, one of the CPp pioneers who ran with us way back in January 2016 when we were first making plans, and who was also one of our earliest volunteers. She managed her first run in a year, and she wanted to tell us about it. Wonderful!
The nice surprises continued throughout the day, as updates arrived from CPVpers near and far, through email, Facebook, Strava, our online form, or word of mouth. Whether it’s a course record, or a family hike through Christmas lights, or a new family member, or a happy barkruner, we love hearing all of the stories. It makes it so much fun to share them in these reports.
Shackleton was wearing his Christmas sweater. Angela's shirt speaks for itself.
Facts and Figures
- 176 virtual parkrunners
- 710 miles covered
- 8 first-timers
- 6 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
- 5 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
- 4 new 25-TIMER badges earned
- 17 barkrunners
- 7 virtual volunteers
Stat(s) of the week: Diana Gough gave a stat this week that captured our imagination. Diana is one of our ever-presents at CPVp, never missing a week. She noted that she had completed 34 virtual parkruns in a little over 7 months, after completing 73 “classic” parkruns in more than 3 years.
Diana is not an outlier. A lot of parkrunners are taking part more regularly during the pandemic. We have already awarded nearly 100 25-timer badges. It took more than 2 years to reach that point in the old style parkruns. What’s different now? We find questions like that irresistible. So we did a little digging into data. Some answers below!
When you run into a familiar face along the trail
For those of us in Maryland, it was an unusually foggy start to the day, leading to some cool scenes along the trails, as captured by Andrea’s photography.
Ich bin ein Berliner
Lara Ehrenhofer returned to running this week in Berlin, Germany after taking a year off running from a knee injury. Lara said it’s the first time that she has run without pain since before 2016. At least there are a couple of things that have been resolved in 2020!
Lara's PG Running Club hat is a nice touch
Lara was with us from the very start. In our 5 years there has been only one time that we ever met anywhere other than at Acredale Park. On January 23rd, 2016, our 2nd ever informal meetup, the Snowzilla storm made the local trails inaccessible. So a hardy group met up to run around the streets of University Park. Lara was among them. She was also one of our very early regular volunteers. She holds the rare distinction of marshalling at the crossing that wasn’t yet Hump’s Crossing.
1/23/16 - the Snowzilla run. Participants: 8
11/19/16 - At the crossing, before we had even met Hump!
Speaking of Berliners, Bud Verge had some delicious-looking donuts waiting for him after his foggy morning run. While Berliner is a name for a type of jelly doughnut in Germany, the story that German citizens in West Berlin laughed at John F Kennedy’s famous speech “Ich bin ein Berliner,” is a popular urban legend in non-German speaking countries. In reality, the audience was laughing at Kennedy joking about the interpreter translating his Boston-accented German into Berlin German. The misconception seems to have been popularized by the New York Times’ reporting on a novel set in Berlin during that time and a later op-ed criticizing the president. While the indefinite article “ein” is not grammatically necessary in the sentence, nor is it incorrect. Plus, the use of the word Berliner to describe a jelly donut wasn’t used in that part of Germany at the time. Confusingly to Americans, people in Berlin at the time would have called donuts Pfannkuchen (literally “pancakes”).
Bud working up an appetite for pfannkuchen
Still in Berlin, this week Kazuko Yatsushiro was able to drag husband Uli along for a run around the Schlachtensee while their daughter was busy in dryland training.
Two more Berliners. When do we get to visit again?
How are those goals for 2020 that you made back in January coming along? Yeah, we’ve totally forgotten what they were, too.
But there are a few #2020Goals that were still being celebrated this week.
Zak Mellen wanted to reach the 50 parkrun milestone this year. He had 28 parkruns to his name by the time the pandemic hit. And now he has completed 22 CPVps. That counts as 50 in our book, Zak! He was also happy to pace Chris Van Vlack to his first sub-24 minute clocking. (They tell us that the pumpkin did not join for the run.)
Nice touch with the red shirt for your 50th run, Zak
Brian Rosenberg (Duane’s nephew) has been joining us regularly from the Harrisburg, PA area, as part of the Team Rosenberg powerhouse. Brian has a pretty good history as a runner. One year he won the Baltimore Marathon. But in the pandemic he has been running every week with his son Peter, and now also his wife Jessica. And we hear that Peter wanted dad to get the course record. (Which was recently taken by a guy from a team with a turnaround marshal in a kangaroo onesie.) Brian is an accountant, so we hear that his training takes a hit when tax season starts. So this was the perfect week. And he did it! His 16:33 time took about 10 seconds from the previous CPVp record.
We are also thrilled that Joan Heffernan knocked one of her 2020 goals out of the park. Joan is one of our CPVp ever-presents, joining us every week from Suffield, CT. We got to know Joan via her amazing daughter Cathryn Burby, who was involved in the earliest plans for parkruns in the DMV and who is now event director at Renton parkrun in the Seattle area. Joan visited us just once in College Park, back in February. She came to running later than most, but she has made great strides. In the spring she shared with us that one of her goals was to run a full 5K without stopping before turning 70. Well, she turned 70 this week, on December 15th. And she has met her goal many times over. To celebrate her birthday she ran 8 miles! And she sent us this picture of a birthday gift from Cathryn: a CP Virtual parkrun apricot shirt. Joan: happy birthday, and a big virtual high five. We just love what you’ve achieved!
70 is the new 34. Happy birthday, Joan!
Supporting Local Businesses
With COVID-19 hospitalizations at record levels in Maryland, state and local leaders have placed new restrictions on businesses. We understand the need, and we also feel the pain of the wonderful local businesses that pay the price for these restrictions.
December and January are difficult months for local businesses, even in a normal year. It’s cold and dark. The student population has thinned out. In 2020 it’s a whole lot more difficult. Fewer students, More distancing. Now no more indoor dining.
We encourage everybody to support the local businesses that they want to still be with us when the pandemic recedes next summer. We will be beating a drum for them, especially over the next 6 weeks between the semesters.
Our social-but-distanced meetup this week tried out the Discovery District Park next to The Hall CP. We have met up for 4 months in the pocket park behind The Board and Brew and Vigilante. It’s a lovely spot by the Paint Branch Stream, but it’s also becoming a bit of a wind tunnel in the winter. The Discovery District Park is a new public gathering spot, opened early in the year, thanks to UMD and the Terrapin Development Corp. Free parking. Tables and benches, with covid-friendly spacing. Sunlight. It’s nice!
We’ll probably try this spot in the coming weeks. But please continue to support your favorite local coffee spots and brunch places. They need us more than ever.
The Discovery District Park. This spot could grow on us.
Steve Feld ran at Mt Trashmore in Virginia Beach. The hill is part of the country’s first landfill-to-park experiment. Featuring a 60 ft high mountain, along with a smaller mound and two lakes, the park was created in the early 1970s by compacting garbage with layers of soil to repurpose the area that had been a landfill previously. Today the park has landscaping that requires little water and serves as a reminder of the damage we have done, and continue to do, to the environment, but also of the fact that we can try to fix some of the harm already inflicted.
Stefano Gazzano’s travels this week took him to Capodimonte, a town on the volcanic Lake Bolsena. It looks like a spectacular spot for a run. (And don't worry, the last volcanic eruption was in 104 AD.) [Note that in an earlier version of this report we talked about the attractions of a different Capodimonte, near Naples. So now we know that there are two!]
Lakeside trail at Capodimonte
Meridith Phillips’ run in Nags Head, NC revealed a crowd that reminded her of the parkrun starting lines on Saturday mornings. At least the birds still get to all hang out together!
Just like Acredale Park on a Saturday morning, but noisier
Frank Snyder managed another 5K in his home’s hallway in Gaithersburg, MD. We hope you’ll be released from quarantine soon, Frank!
Team Schneider decided to wait until after sunset and do a night walk to look at Christmas lights. They walked 2.5 miles, the longest distance for mom Erin since her foot surgery in October.
Rebecca, Joe, and Olivia (barkrunner) White, went for a photography walk in College Park.
Barkrunner Eli’s discovery of the week was Garden Movement I, a Traffic Box Art Wrap in Riverdale Park. The public art project prints local artists’ designs on vinyl and adds them to the traffic boxes at intersections to add some joy and color to the neighborhood.
Milestones and More
This week we welcomed EIGHT first-timers: Joan Richards-Gordon, Lara Ehrenhofer, Robin Marshall-Walukonis, Laura Kaegebein, Abby Abass, Leo (barkrunner), Theresa Sims, and Nemo (barkrunner).
Laura is the sister of CP mayor Patrick Wojahn, who joined us from Maple Grove, MN, where she enjoyed a walk with her mom and CPVp regular Karen Wojahn.
Abby and Theresa were part of a happy band of Prince George’s Running Club members who were enjoying the trails on Saturday morning.
Robin was navigating the beach with foggy glasses in Ocean Pines, MD.
And Joan was putting down a speedy 5K on the CP parkrun course.
We have SIX new high-five badges to award for 5-timers: Greg Ervin, Dolly (barkrunner), Andrea Maas, Deb Tinnemore, Keirston Woods, and Zebi Brown.
This is a geographically distributed bunch. Greg is based in Ohio, but visits us in College Park whenever he is in town. He’s a super speedy septuagenarian who always has a big smile on his face.
Barkrunner Dolly was enjoying a leisurely walk with Rory Murphy in New Jersey. Dolly used to be a regular in College Park when she lived in Maryland. Deb Tinnemore (Anna’s mom) was joining from Shelton, WA.
Andrea Maas (Carly’s mom) went out on her regular Saturday run with Michelle Caffee Phillips in Greensboro, NC, where they met a mechanical Santa. No social distancing required there. We’re thrilled to hear from Team Maas in NC, and they’re probably excited to have Carly back for the holidays this week, after completing a first semester in grad school in College Park.
What's even better than meeting a mechanical Santa along your route?
Having your daughter back home to run with you next week! Happy holidays, Carly, and we'll see you back in College Park in January.
FIVE earned a ten-timer turtle badge this week: Rachel Lukens, Ginny Fromel, Eileen Sullivan, Scruffi (barkrunner), and Tucker (barkrunner). The humans in this group are all locals who were out enjoying the trails in and around College Park on this spectacular weekend. (Yes, it seems like a distant memory now.)
And we added FOUR more people to the distinguished group of 25-timers, all earning birthday cake badges in our results tables. (The birthday cake is because CPVp #25 came on our anniversary.) Drumroll for: Matt Kaplan, Robert Bernhard, Catherine Spirito, Pete Monacelli.
If you’re looking for Matt on a Saturday morning, you can probably find him at the Paint Branch Trail. We say “probably” because he’s generally taking extra spurs or loops to get in a couple more miles, so you might miss him. If you’re looking for Robert, you should look in Catonsville, close to the UMBC campus. Robert started joining us regularly in College Park in February, and then the pandemic hit. We hope that it won’t be too long before he can get to join us in person again.
25-timer cake badge for Matt
Catherine and Pete hold the distinction of being the last people to earn 50 shirts at an in-person CP parkrun. On a chilly day at the start of March, when we were taking anti-covid countermeasures that seem quaint at this point.
March 7th 2020. Our last in person CPp.
It’s beginning to look a lot like …
If you are on Facebook, we highly recommend the virtual parkrun briefing from our friends at Melton Mowbray Virtual parkrun this week.
One of the charming features of MMVp is their weekly mystery run director, who gives a live video message at 9am on Facebook Live. In recent weeks they have featured sporting legends and local heroes, as well as prominent members of their parkrun community. Our own Colin Phillips did the briefing in the dark on Halloween. This week Debbie Longley upstaged everyone who had gone before.
Check it out ...
Debbie Longley is a hard act to follow
Please give a socially distanced high five to this week’s virtual volunteer crew. CPVp is a lot of fun, but it’s much less automated than classic CPp, so we are super happy to have a team of volunteers every week, pulling together all of the great material that you send us.
Angela Gentile: results (Facebook)
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results guru
Colin Phillips: social media, reporting
Hannah Russell: reporting and research
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography
Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? We’ll have 4 events in the space of 15 days from Dec 19th to Jan 2nd, so all help is welcome. In addition to the roles above, it can be very useful to have photo collectors and online cheerleaders. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
The beautiful weather brought the barkrunners out in force this week, accounting for nearly 10% of participants this week.
First-timer Leo kept Kristie on her toes.
First-timer Nemo took Hump for a walk along the trail. Nemo has little legs, so it probably felt like longer.
Tuffi and Scruffi were in the mood for a bit of bird watching.
Eli was soaking up the attention from his fans at the Discovery District Park.
Roo was posing for atmospheric shots in the cool lighting.
There’s no real news on the return-to-classic-parkrun front this week. Yes, there are continued returns of events in some parts of the world, such as some of the more remote events in Russia. But that has little bearing on what will happen here.
It is now clear that our path in 2021 will be shaped by the rollout of the various coronavirus vaccines, and how quickly that allows society to reopen. It’s likely that COVID-19 fatalities will begin to fall over the next couple of months as vaccines reach the most vulnerable people. But this could easily be accompanied by an increase in cases if this leads to less caution. Stopping the spread of the virus will require a large portion of the population to be vaccinated. That will put us well into 2021.
Recognizing this time horizon, some Maryland parks departments have already canceled event permits through Spring 2021. It is looking likely that we will get to celebrate the first anniversary of CPVp on May 1st. By that time maybe we’ll at least have enough people vaccinated that we can share some cake.
We’re going to be parkrunning virtually for a while yet.
We hope that nurse Janet will be among the earliest to get vaccinated. And maybe it's not too far off that she'll be able to run again with her daughter and grandson (Tara & Xander).
So this takes us to the question that Diana Gough inspired. Why do we see so many more regulars now than in our face-to-face events? And who are we serving and not serving in these unusual times with our unusual format?
This is of more than passing interest, as clearly something is working well. It’s hard to come up with other running/walking events that have actually grown in the pandemic. It’s also just as clear that we’re not supporting everybody who we were serving with our face-to-face events.
A couple of rough data points on regular participation.
After 34 virtual parkruns, just shy of 100 have earned a 25-timer badge.
After 181 in person College Park parkruns, there were 170 25-timers. The 100 most regular participants all had completed at least 40 CPps by the time we transitioned to virtual events in the spring.
That’s a big difference. We’re seeing far more regulars far more quickly in CPVp. Why is that? Is it just that it’s a more established community, or has something else changed? By our *rough* estimates, among the CPVp 25-timers:
41% are pre-existing regulars
32% benefit from greater flexibility
16% are remote participants
8% find the virtual events more accessible
3% are barkrunners
The pre-existing regulars are folks who were coming along to CPp most weeks already. They’re continuing their routine, more or less, during the pandemic. There are many of these, but they’re a minority of the CPVp regulars. Around a third of CPVp regulars are people who likely benefit from the greater flexibility of the virtual format. They can choose different times of day, fitting around family or work commitments. They don’t need to choose between parkrun and a long run or a family walk or another race. In the virtual format, it all counts! A sixth of the CPVp regulars are folks who are far away and could not join us in person. These are a wonderful addition to the community.
8% of regulars are people who we suspect welcome the greater accessibility of the virtual format, either because 5K is further than they want, or because they prefer not to walk or run in something that looks rather like a race. This is likely an underestimate of the overall number of people in this category. So far, just a couple of the 25-timers are barkrunners, whose participation wasn’t recorded in the beforetimes. This is also likely an underestimate, as more barkrunners have joined regularly as the year has progressed.
Great to see Michelle back on the trail after injury
So, the virtual format has clearly allowed us to regularly reach a lot of people who we couldn’t support so well before.
But what of the regulars at CP parkrun? How many from that community are we serving in the virtual format?
Based on a very rough categorization of the 100 most regular CP parkrunners, i.e., the 40-timers, we estimate the following:
45% are CPVp regulars
20% are CPVp occasionals
35% do not participate in CPVp
It’s no surprise that we’re not reaching everyone. We were pretty skeptical of virtual events ourselves at the start of the pandemic. The virtual events are just different, and there are some things that they just can’t replace.
There are some patterns in the folks who we are less likely to see in the virtual events: children and teens; people for whom English is not their primary language; and people who are more reserved or are not following our online communications.
Thanks to Diana for inspiring us to look into this. The bottom line: the shift to a virtual format has altered the community. Many people are in some ways better served than before. Or, at least, better able to participate regularly. At the same time, many are served less well, as they find the features of the in person events non-negotiable. There are surely lessons in all this that we can carry forward beyond the pandemic.
Eddie embracing the misty morning
So much for the data geekery, what’s happening the next few weeks?
December 19th: We know that you like to dress up. So let’s see your Santa hats, holiday lights, ugly sweaters, or whatever else gets you in the right mood. Also, we will complete a full circumnavigation of the earth, i.e., 40,075 km. That’s not bad for 34 Saturdays (and one Thursday).
December 26th: The day after Christmas will be our 250th event since we started meeting at Acredale Park in January 2016. We plan to make a fuss about this. (And the seasonal garb is still very much in vogue on 12/26.)
January 1st & 2nd: Our New Year’s Day parkrun is traditionally our largest of the year. We have no intention of letting the pandemic stand in the way of celebrating the start of 2021. Safely, of course. And January 2nd is a Saturday. So we’ll have consecutive CPVp days, to give you an extra opportunity to work towards 50 CPVps.
So yeah, it’s going to be colder for a while. But that’s not going to slow us down.
Until next time!
Your CPVp Team
Can't argue with that
Anne's new kicks are pretty spectacular
... maybe ideal for dusk run/walks with Louise
Jenny Kent captured this rainbow on her virtual parkrun in Melton Mowbray
We're cheering for you all the way