We walk and run wherever we want for our virtual parkruns. But the Paint Branch Trail in College Park remains the most common venue. Some go there on a Saturday because it’s never crowded, or because it’s just a beautiful place to be. Some go there because they know they’re likely to see friendly faces along the trail. So we were especially pleased to get a message this week from first-timer Maria Ferrucci, who said:
“First time on the parkrun course! Loved being greeted by what I presumed were regulars. Will be back, for sure!”
Yes, that’s pretty much how it feels on the trail on a Saturday. There are familiar faces and unfamiliar faces, but there are a lot of positive vibes to go around.
So what happened this week at CP Virtual parkrun #40? As usual, you shared a lot with us.
Yes, you'll always find smiling faces on the trail on a Saturday morning
Facts and Figures
- 167 virtual parkrunners
- 690 miles covered
- 3 first-timers
- 2 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
- 2 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
- 7 new 25-TIMER badges earned
- 13 barkrunners
- 8 virtual volunteers
Stat(s) of the week: We now have 40 virtual events under our belts. At this point 748 different individuals have completed 6756 CP virtual parkruns.
- 27 have taken part all 40 weeks
- 116 have earned a 25-timer cake badge
- 211 have earned a 10-timer turtle badge
- 298 have earned a 5-timer high five badge
As a point of comparison, after our first 40 in-person events, we had just 5 25-timers. This past year has been different.
116 virtual parkruns between just these 3. Mike, Bonnie, and Anna took it a little more slowly this week due to ice on the bridges.
Those who visited the Paint Branch Trail on Saturday may have noticed that our collection of signs that we placed along the trail on Thanksgiving were standing in a circle in Acredale Park. Here’s the backstory.
We stand together
We made the signs, all featuring artwork by Zoe Phillips showing regular CP parkrun volunteers, as a way to offer extra encouragement to socially distanced trail users during the winter months. They were a bit more professionally produced than the Lisa and Hump course marshal signs that had been on the trail since the early days of the pandemic.
We received a lot of positive feedback about the signs. People were happy to see smiling faces along the trail. But clearly not everybody was happy. One trail user (ok, it could be many, but we suspect not) soon took to regularly removing the signs. Then parkrunners would put them up again. Then we would find them thrown over fences, or folded and hidden in undergrowth. This week we found the Xander sign thrown off a bridge into the stream.
We were starting to look forward less to visiting the trail, knowing that we would be looking for what had most recently happened to the signs. Somebody was annoyed, and we did not need to share in those feelings.
So Andrea headed out early Saturday to gather up the signs. She put them up in a semi circle in the park to greet Saturday morning visitors. Maybe we’ll put them out again in the same spot in future weeks.
We’re not going to be self-righteous or outraged over this. We undertook this with good intentions, but we know that we were pushing boundaries. Pre-pandemic we were adamant that we would come and go each Saturday morning, leaving without a trace. Unable to do that in the pandemic, we took some liberties that we wouldn’t have taken before. We’re not feeling great about a person who feels the need to uproot a picture of Xander and throw it into the stream. But in the current national climate, these are very much first world problems. And we still have our signs!
Getting it done
Last Friday we shared a picture on our social media channels of Frank Snyder one year ago. Then we were celebrating his 50th CPp, and this weekend he already did his 40th CPVp. Frank has kept up his 5Ks every week during the pandemic. Mostly confined to running laps of his retirement community. Sometimes running 100 laps of his apartment while quarantined. He’s an inspiration.
One year ago this week
So this week Frank reported that this inspired him, too! So he put his head down and ran his fastest 5K of the pandemic, 2 minutes faster than his normal clip these days. Excellent!
Meanwhile in Riverdale Park, Jan Matis was drawing inspiration from last week’s donut related discussion. She figured that Donut Run, the new vegan (!) donut place in Takoma, is 5 miles from home. So, a 10 mile round trip. That’s further than Jen has ever run, but she’s working up to it. This week she covered 7 miles, her furthest yet. Watch this space for more developments on this story. And if you have other local businesses that you’d like to support by making them your CPVp destination, we’d love to hear about it!
In Ann Arbor, MI, Emma Keer was facing the first hurdle in her 2021 resolution to run a half marathon every month. Emma’s based in Ann Arbor, where it was a little icy. She set out with Yaktrax on her shoes -- these devices are familiar to midwestern runners, but less well known in Maryland -- but one of them soon broke. But Emma was undaunted and got it done, with Lillie parkrun buddy Amanda as company for the last few miles.
Emma and Amanda looking for Florida weather in Ann Arbor in January as Emma takes on the Miami (Virtual) Half Marathon
Derek Symer was making the most of a snowstorm in Vermont, where he and his family are currently in covid hibernation. It was his slowest 5K in some time, but also one of the most enjoyable.
Perfect weather for a run in Vermont
In somewhat better weather in Columbia, MD, Adrien Harrison was also completing a solo half marathon. Nice!
And it looks like David Lai, Malik Al-Jame, Dami Alao and their crew were going for difficulty over distance this week, as they tackled a 10-miler on the Occoquan Trail Bull Run. The trail totals 17 miles and portions are also used for horse-back riding and mountain biking. The trail is described as “moderately strenuous” for hiking, so running it must have been pretty difficult!
Bull Run crew
Closer to home, Stewart Mayhew was taking his first tentative steps back to jogging along the Paint Branch Trail, after slipping and fracturing his upper arm on the trail a few weeks ago. Steady does it, Stewart, but it’s great to see you back!
Luna and Leslie came along to make sure that Stewart didn't get carried away
And much, much further from home, this week’s fastest finisher, Tomas Marambio, was getting his 5K done in Santiago, Chile, on his 30th CPVp. It looks like the temperatures there are a pretty constant high of 88 degrees every day. So when he returns to College Park soon, he’s going to find it a little cooler.
Last week Patrick Wojahn showed that he is probably the fastest mayor in the DMV when he was our fastest finisher. This week he scaled things back. Well, only slightly. This was because he used his CPVp to give new resident Alec a running tour of town, including a loop of Lake Artemesia.
Now that is a welcoming community!
And welcome to Alec. Hope you can join us at CP(V)p some time.
Mayor Patrick stopped by for our social-but-distanced coffee this week
Milestones and More
This week we welcomed THREE first-timers: Maria Ferrucci is featured right at the top of this story, and you can find a picture of first-time barkrunner Luna with Stewart and Leslie somewhere in here. Tim Ramsey is a regular parkrunner in the DMV, mostly based at Fletcher’s Cove, but sometimes striking out to all of the other local events, often volunteering as tailwalker. Welcome, Tim!
We had TWO new 5-timers earning a High Five badge: Joan Richards Gordon and Carey White. Kudos to both!
Our TWO new ten-timers were Brian Maas and his barkrunner Shannon, both joining from Greensboro, NC. This means that Team Maas now has four 10-timers in the family.
Andrea and Michelle found a snowflake (ok, maybe two) in Greensboro, NC
Finally, it was a bumper week for 25-timer badges, with SEVEN new cake icons to confer: Andres Mbouh, Josh Weiss, Lisa Shiota, Dominique Blom, Eve Fingerett, Thomas Gentile, Michelle Lemon. We are happy that we get to hear from all of these folks regularly!
This week’s CPVp was brought to you by a team of 7 virtual volunteers. 6 regulars, plus first-timer Heather Sisan, who leaned hard into the role of online cheerleader.
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: propaganda (incl report, as always)
Hannah Russell: report
Heather Sisan: results and cheerleading (Facebook)
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography, sign rescue
Heather first joined us at CP parkrun in late 2017 for the UMD Homecoming event, and she has now completed 46 live parkruns (half in CP, half in Kensington) and 29 CPVps. So she would definitely have earned a red 50 shirt in 2020, had it not been for the pandemic. One of the silver linings of the pandemic, though, is that we now get to hear from Heather every week, and she always has something encouraging to say that lifts our spirits a bit. Thank you, Heather!
Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at email@example.com if you can help.
Could be referring to CPVp volunteers. Could be something else. Who knows!
It was a good day for barkrunners. But of course EVERY Saturday is a good day for our barkrunners, as they get to frolic outside with their humans. And what can be better than that!
Pakora enjoyed sprints at the park
Shackleton's going to be a big brother! (And congrats to Angela and TJ!)
Another week, another 5K for Scruffi in Rehoboth Beach
Sitting pretty -- Belle and Tuffi in Rehoboth Beach
Oliver stopped by the social-but-distanced coffee with Russell to make some friends
Ellen Oberholtzer and Eli visited another public art installation in Hyattsville, this one by Bronwyn King Design.
Turnaround "marshal" for Anna Weber's virtual parkrun in Arlington
This week many of us are looking back over the past 4 years. We don’t need to tell you why that is. At CPVp Towers we have been looking back almost exactly 4 years to January 21st, 2017.
On 1/21/17 Colin and Andrea attended the launch of Mansfield, OH parkrun in north central Ohio. In College Park it was the 15th CP parkrun. It was also the day of the Women’s March on Washington. The combination of these events made for an exciting morning.
Mansfield was the next US parkrun event to start after College Park, and the first outside the DMV in 2 years. Founders Karen and Steve Crane had visited DC for the launch of events here, including our own. So we didn’t want to miss out on their party. On the drive to Ohio we encountered a lot of snow, and also a lot of cars full of women in pink pussy hats. There was a buzz at the highway rest areas. Saturday brought an unseasonably mild January morning in Ohio, and a big crowd gathered under the huge gazebo for the pre-event briefing.
Big crowd for the Mansfield, OH parkrun inaugural on 1/21/17. Don't get us started about inaugural crowds.
Shortly before 9am we got a message from Rory Murphy, who was slated to be leading the show in College Park that day. Rory was driving down from Baltimore and was stuck in traffic gridlock, due to yet more cars full of pink hats. He probably wasn’t going to make it to College Park on time.
So, as the Mansfield launch announcements were beginning, Andrea was on the phone to Lisa Wilson, recalling her from her turnaround marshal role and doing emergency training over the phone in how to be the day’s run director. Lisa, of course, took this entirely in her stride, and had everything under control until Rory rolled in.
Rory eventually made it to College Park. Right after Lisa sent the parkrunners on their way up the trail.
Lisa took it all in her stride. She couldn't be turnaround marshal, so she sent Anouk Dieuleveut off on her bike instead. There was no other way that we could have gotten somebody to the turnaround before Clark Ridge.
There were just 36 finishers in College Park that day. A tiny crowd by today’s measures, but at that point it was the highest Saturday total of the winter so far. When we checked on the day’s results from a coffee shop in Ohio, we were surprised to see that somebody had gone and taken a minute from the women’s course record, and run a 91% age-graded time. At that point we hadn’t met Cindy Conant, so we figured that a 19:37 time in the 55-59 age group was maybe an error. We now know that it’s just a normal Saturday for Cindy. She became a regular with us and a member of the team at Kensington parkrun, and helped to spread the word to friends and family.
Zoom! Kensington's Cindy Conant sets a parkrun USA age-graded record on 1/21/17
We would have loved to take the trip back to Mansfield to celebrate their 4th birthday with them this week. But like so much else, that’s not happening right now. But we look forward to following their continued success when they (hopefully) restart later this year.
Mansfield is off the beaten track, a town of around 50,000 that is best known for the former state penitentiary that was used in filming the Shawshank Redemption. But the event that Karen and Steve Crane started has been a model for building an inclusive community. When they started Mansfield, OH parkrun, many were skeptical that they could keep a free, volunteer-led event going year round in Ohio, with its cold and snowy winters. But it has worked. The event is not large, but it grew steadily over the 3 years before the pandemic. It was especially successful in making walkers and beginning runners feel right at home. We learned a lot in College Park by observing our friends in Mansfield.
This week Mansfield, OH parkrun regular, and CPVp regular Michael Phipps shared this cool shirt from his MLK Virtual race. Michael remembers hearing MLK deliver this sermon on a TV broadcast when he was 5 years old in 1958.
The success of Mansfield was unlikely to draw national attention. But it did draw attention in Ohio. It helped to inspire efforts in mid-sized Ohio cities. Sippo Lake parkrun started in Canton, OH in early 2019. That in turn helped inspire efforts in larger Ohio cities. Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation parkrun started in Cleveland in late 2019. And before things started going awry in the world, there were promising efforts underway to start communities around Columbus.
We have seen similar things on our doorstep. Nobody cares in Manhattan or Los Angeles about a success story in College Park, MD. But folks in Kensington, MD do. As do folks in Glen Burnie, MD. And maybe in Ann Arbor, MI, because of the college town connection. And folks in Michigan pay attention to success stories in Ann Arbor. And so it goes. None of this is inevitable. But it’s how grassroots community organizing can spread in a big, diverse country like the US.
Happy Birthday Mansfield, OH parkrun!
A return to our in-person events remains a long way off, alas. There’s no real news this week from parkrun world. But that’s largely moot, as the action is all in getting the pandemic under control locally.
Ok, one thing happening in broader parkrun world is that College Park's Kim Nickens is being used to inspire people in many different languages
At this point it’s clear that getting back to normal depends on vaccinations outpacing the spread of the virus. The timeline remains unclear, but some things are coming into clearer focus.
Roughly, Marylanders need to receive 10 million shots in order to reach herd immunity. Give or take. That assumes 2 shots per person and around 80% uptake.
Some signs are encouraging. In the past 2 weeks the pace of vaccination has doubled in Maryland. A good day at the end of December saw around 10,000 shots delivered. This past week the state passed 20,000 shots in one day for the first time.
Much will now depend on whether the state can further ramp up the pace of shots via second shot distribution. Right now almost all shots are first shots. That will surely change in the next couple of weeks, as more people become eligible for a second dose.
If -- and it’s a big “if” -- the state has the supply and the logistics to soon deliver 20,000 first shots and 20,000 second shots every day, and if this really means every day, then we have reason to be encouraged about prospects for the return to more normal life in the summer. (But if the state just delivers 20,000 shots per day 5 days/week, then it’s going to be a really long journey.)
At this early stage in the process, each vaccine dose is great news for those who get it, but it makes little difference to community spread. The same measures will be needed for at least the next couple of months to prevent case numbers from increasing. So, little prospect for changes in event restrictions.
Once we reach 40-50% of the population with immunity, then each new vaccine dose makes more and more difference to community spread, potentially improving prospects for relaxing restrictions on human interaction.
Putting this together, if the state can deliver 40,000 doses per day, then we could see 50% of the population covered by the end of June. Right now we are not at that level yet, but it seems less crazy than it did a couple of weeks ago.
Upshot of this: don’t plan on any in person CP parkruns before July 4th, but do be cautiously optimistic that we could celebrate our 5th birthday in person in October.
Lucy and Laurie were out together as usual on Saturday
The state of Maryland today updated the vaccination section of its COVID-19 dashboard to include more information. The site is updated daily at 10am.
In the meantime, we’ll keep on trucking as a virtual event, and we’ll keep on doing all that we can to help folks be a little more active, a little more connected, and feeling good about the community around them. Thank you for all that you are doing to help with this. We know that in these times the main way that people find us and get involved is via encouragement and support from friends and family.
Until next time!
Your CPVp Team
Life begins at 40
(And good to see your finger recovering, Lori)
Jeremy is going further and further. This week he conquered the Scary Mountain Beyond Lisa, and followed the Paint Branch Trail to Beltsville
Welcome back from Florida, Elmer!
Scene from Cory Kind's run in Detroit, MI. No, Cory doesn't walk on water. This is taken from a bridge over an icy river.
Colin doesn't walk on water, either. But he was pretty darn happy to be able to cautiously run the full 5K this week. First time he's been able to do that in 2021.
See you next week!