New Life (Virtual Report 43)

There were encouraging signs all around us this weekend. Some early hints that spring is just a few weeks away. Optimism as more community members begin to get vaccinated. Optimism in College Park as local businesses open up slightly and welcome a student population that has been mostly hiding away in a 2-week quarantine. And weather that was mild enough in the DC area to see some people reach for the shorts.

We did not expect to see one of the biggest crowds yet at CP Virtual parkrun, including some very fresh faces. More reasons to be feeling optimistic. So let’s see what went down at CP Virtual parkrun #43.



Shorts weather? Pratyush scores bonus points for optimism this week

Facts and Figures

  • 192 virtual parkrunners
  • 775 miles covered
  • 9 first-timers
  • 5 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 1 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 2 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 7 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: Regular readers of these reports will know that the Rosenberg family has been using CPVp to help stay fit and connected during the pandemic, despite being spread across many states.

This week we were struck by a couple of timing coincidences.

Jessica Rosenberg, running in Mechanicsburg, PA, recorded a 5K time of 25:16, exactly the same time as her father-in-law Dave Rosenberg, who was running on his treadmill in frigid Bettendorf, IA.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s husband Brian Rosenberg recorded a 5K time of 22:24, exactly the same time as his uncle Duane, who was running in New Carrollton, MD.

Pretty improbable, right? We were confident that this is unlikely, but we were unsure how unlikely. We have an estimate, but let this be a challenge to some of you number nerds out there who may have better ideas.

It turns out this is a version of the birthday problem. For example, in a class of 30 children, what’s the probability that there are 2 children who share the same birthday? It’s surprisingly likely, around 70%.

This problem applies conveniently neatly to Team Rosenberg, as the 5 of them who run a full 5K most weeks (a few others join less regularly or choose different paces or distances), generally finish their 5K within a 6-minute range, from 21 to 27 minutes. That’s close enough to 365 seconds for us to treat Rosenberg finishing times as equivalent to the 365 days of the year for birthdays. So we can use one of the many birthday problem calculators available on the internet.

Among 5 Rosenbergs, the probability of any 2 of them finishing their CPVp in exactly the same time is roughly 2.7% or 1 in 37. Then the probability of 2 of the remaining 3 Rosenbergs finishing in exactly the same time is 0.8% or 1 in 122. So that makes a combined probability of .02%, or around 1 in 4,500.

So, it could happen. It’s just not very likely. Roughly once in every 90 years if we hold CPVp every week. (We hope that the pandemic will not last that long.) One key fact to know: Brian Rosenberg often sets out in the morning deliberately trying to match the time that his uncle Duane will run. Factoring that into our calculations is beyond our math skills.



How about running and math puzzles?

New Life

There’s nothing quite like the first time. Even if you sleep through much of it. This week we welcomed first-time virtual park-stroller Nick Gerbig, who got out for a 5K with mom Jessica.


Welcome Nick!

Another very young parkrunner was 8-month old Felix, who took a stroll with mom Rachel Unger at Lake Artemesia. Long time followers of these reports may remember Rachel’s heroic park-waddles from our early virtual events last spring, when she was very pregnant indeed. Felix has come a long way!


Felix looks so grown up!

Moving up the age scale, but only a little, 1-year old James Schneider covered an impressive half a mile park-toddle this week, as part of Team Schneider’s downtown adventure (more on that shortly).

We’re also seeing more and more reasons for optimism among our senior parkrunners, as vaccinations open the hope of a fuller life in 2021. In the UK Adrian and Stella Dover took a walk to celebrate their first shots. Kath and Derrick Phillips (Colin’s parents) walked a couple of miles after getting their first shots earlier in the week. With another grandchild on the way in the spring, they are very ready to be able to move and mix again. Meanwhile, Marilyn Langley (Louise Godley’s mum) has got a vaccine, got a walk, and stocked up on essential supplies for an approaching winter storm. That would be Cadbury’s creme eggs. We salute your preparedness, Marilyn!

We know that there will be a wait for many of us, but we love hearing from you about the hope that comes as you get vaccinated.

Other evidence of new life could be seen in early signs of spring. Heather Sisan saw crocuses starting to show themselves along her route in Kensington.


Crocuses on Heather Sisan's run

(Edited: our expert proofreader assures us that these are daffodils)


Snowdrops on Louise Godley's run

Andrea Zukowski was mostly watching parkrunners (and the occasional hawk) along her morning park-walk. But on her second parkwalk of the day she followed a pair of beavers at Lake Artemesia. Beavers don’t hibernate, so that’s not really a sign of spring. But they tend to stay warm inside their lodges for most of the winter, so seeing them felt like it ought to be a sign that spring is not too far away.

Just a few more weeks of winter to go. For some of us, at least.



Still Winter

In other parts of the world, it was not looking much like spring.

Meghan and Ben Gieske braved the -11F windchill in South Bend, IN this week. They went slow to avoid ice, and managed to get a nice picture of the partially frozen St Joseph River.


No sign of spring yet in South Bend, IN

The predicted snow in the DMV may have been (predictably) a bust. But the snow was very real in Sandpoint, ID. Cindy Cohen decided to go run on the treadmill in her building. But it was occupied. So she layered up and got it done outside.


... nor in Sandpoint, ID


Ann and her crew were getting it done in Mansfield, OH


Team Schneider (Erin, Joshua, Mary Clare, and Samantha) did a “destination virtual parkrun” to check out the shattered glass portrait of VP Kamala Harris at the Reflecting Pool that was unveiled last Thursday. Made by delicately hammering safety glass to create a 3D style image, the portrait, created by artist Simon Berger, honors Harris and the countless women who came before her and their contributions to cracking the glass ceiling.


The detail on the new shattered glass portrait of VP Harris is amazing

Dan Owen and barkrunner Gifford went 6 miles on the towpath from Glen Echo, MD. A recent Washington Post article shares some history of the Glen Echo street car line that ran from Georgetown out to the old Glen Echo Amusement Park. The trolley was unique in that it ran through the wilderness to get to its destination; supposedly conductors threw caution to the wind once out of the city and even allowed adventurous teens to take a try at driving. The Amusement Park began as a religious education retreat complex in the 1890s before being converted to an amusement park in 1907. The park operated until 1968, when a combination of safety concerns and competition with more modern parks, forced its closure. Over the next few years, negotiations over the land eventually culminated in the park being transferred to the National Park Service, who protect and operate it today.


Gifford and Dan ran to Glen Echo



Sometimes you’ve got other stuff to do. One of the benefits of our virtual format is that you can combine your CPVp with other life needs.

We saw Neha Joshi speeding down the Paint Branch Trail mid morning. Her 27:xx time was close to her parkrun PB. We later learned that this was because she was squeezing her 5K into a 30-minute lab break. Fortunately the lab is right next to the trail, so it was easy to slip out and be back in time.


Neha didn't waste a moment

Susan Keller combined her CPVp with a trip to Home Depot to recycle plastic bags. (Yes, we didn’t know that -- that’s one of the few places locally where you can recycle those bags. And it’s conveniently just a short walk beyond Lisa’s turnaround spot.)

Anna Weber managed to walk a couple of miles while volunteering at her local vaccine clinic. Way to go, Anna!

And Dom Blom scores extra points for multi-tasking this week, combining a family walk, an upper body workout, supporting local businesses, AND cultural education. Dom, Michael, and barkrunner Roo did their CPVp by taking a walk down the Trolley Trail to Streetcar 82 Brewery, where they picked up a few quarts of locally brewed ale to help with their socially-distanced Superbowl enjoyment.


Good multi-tasking, Dom, Roo, and Michael

Milestones and More

We welcomed NINE first-timers this week: Richard Griffiths, Minnie Wong, Theo (barkrunner), Eugene Kim, Crystal Walcott, Annika Olson, Kathy Kelly, Coney (barkrunner), Nellie (barkrunner).

Kathy teamed up with Susan Keller for a walk on the Paint Branch Trail. And we were excited to see Crystal join us again for the first time in a couple of years.


Welcome Kathy (and Susan)


Welcome back,Crystal (left) (picture from early 2018)

We had FIVE new 5-timers who all earned a High Five badge. Matt Phillips took a walk with CPVp regular Meridith. Lillian Symer celebrated her return from a month in the Vermont snow by doing a 5K with her dad Derek in Kensington. Hemant and Vidya Joshi got in a walk in Pune, India while their daughter Neha and son-in-law Yogarshi were fast asleep ahead of their CPVp in College Park.

hemant joshi, small photo only-web

First finishers this week! Hemant and Vidya had the advantage of being 11 hours ahead of College Park

And Derrick Phillips earned his badge by taking a walk in Bristol, UK. (Whereas Colin’s mum is a regular reader and proof-reader for these reports, his dad is clearly missing out. When informed of this special award on the weekly Zoom call Sunday morning, he had no idea what Colin was talking about.)

This week’s one new 10-timer was John Cousen, running in Melton Mowbray, UK, where they are looking forward to celebrating their 50th virtual parkrun event next Saturday.

And our two new 25-timers were Dave Rosenberg (Duane’s brother) in Bettendorf, IA, and Carly Maas in College Park.

Just a few other achievements we noted this week.

Jeremy Rueter completed his first ever 10 mile run. Nice!

Zak Mellen paced Chris Van Vlack to a 5K PB.

Carlos Chaverri-Morales joined us again from Costa Rica, where he ran his first 10K in a couple of years.

Tomas Marambio is back from a couple of months of warmer weather at home in Santiago, Chile. This week he zipped around the streets of College Park in our fastest time of the day.

Stewart Mayhew headed downtown to enjoy the monthly meetup of the Roosevelt Island parkrun community. Their routine is to run or walk wherever, then to meetup by the Teddy Roosevelt Plaza at 10am and head to Rosslyn for outdoor coffee. Stewart pointed out that with 57 old-style parkruns plus 43 virtual parkruns, this was his 100th time. Nice going, Stewart!


Stewart celebrated his 100th parkrun (all formats) with the Roosevelt Island crew. Stewart's in there, channeling Teddy Roosevelt at the back. And check out Joyce's double mask technique there -- Paddington Bear on the front, medical mask on the back. Neat!

Also among our 43-timers this week was Kazuko Yatsushiro, who joins us every week from Berlin, Germany. Kazuko was involved in the creation of Hasenheide parkrun in Berlin, which started in early 2018. She had completed 43 runs and also earned a 25-time volunteer shirt by the time they shut down last spring. She has never been to College Park, but now she has done 43 CPVps, and 2 other family members have earned turtle badges at CPVp. (What’s the connection to College Park, then? Kazuko is a language nerd, like half of the CPVp weekly volunteer crew, Colin, Andrea, Tara, and Anna.)


Snowy morning in Berlin for Kazuko

Virtual Volunteers

Thanks as ever to our team of virtual volunteers, who keep the community humming each week. On deck this week were:

Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: results, report, and propaganda
Hannah Russell: report
Heather Sisan: results (Facebook)
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email and photos

In addition to the official volunteer roles, we’re grateful to everybody who helps to keep the community going by engaging with others online, with Strava kudos or Facebook comments, and to all of you who “volunteer” your stories about what you get up to each week. Sharing these nuggets from your pandemic life helps all of us.

As always, we’re looking for new volunteers who can help out in the coming weeks. Drop us a line at if you can help.


We know where to find this photographer on a Saturday morning


Eli and Ellen visited a mural near Pizzeria Paradiso in Hyattsville painted by DC based artist Rohaun_paints.


Our weekly postcard from Eli and Ellen

Cory Kind, Adam Gann, and barkrunner Walker were joined in Detroit by a new barkrunner. Welcome Coney! Walker showed Coney how it’s done.


Walker shows Coney how it's done

Eden Gray and barkrunner Foxy explored the National Arboretum this weekend, complete with pictures of Foxy amongst the famous columns. Originally part of the Capitol building, the columns were removed in 1958 and moved to the Arboretum in the 1980s. Of the 24 columns, 22 now stand in the Ellipse Meadow, with the last two lying damaged on top of Mount Hamilton in the Azalea Collection.


Enjoying the light at the National Arboretum

Emma Keer volunteered at the Humane Society walking dogs, where she met Nellie. She’s available for adoption, is super enthusiastic, and has lots of love to give! It’s a bit of a trek to Ann Arbor, MI, but maybe you know of a Michigander who could use a new four-legged friend.


Nellie enjoyed her walk with Emma


Shackleton has a spring in his step

And though it’s not strictly a barkrunner, Janet Grudzien John saw a water pup lazing on the beach in Kapolei, HI. That is one of the sights that we’re sure you’ll never see along the regular CP parkrun route.


Not College Park

Looking Back

It’s fun to look back to see where we were this weekend in previous years.

1 year ago, we welcomed first-timer Joan Heffernan, who was visiting from Connecticut. At the time we couldn’t have imagined that Joan would soon be joining us every week from afar. Those were such innocent times.

joan-heffernan-2020-web1 year ago we were also enjoying one of our days with 2-way traffic along our tunnel of trees, because ice on the trail forced us to use our two-lap course. We love our single out-and-back route, but it’s fun on the days when we all get to see each other a little more often.


2 years ago we were celebrating Judy Barnes’ 50th parkrun. Judy has actually joined us many more times than that, as she initially would come every week and walk part of the route while husband Marvin ran. Add to this that she has been stuck on 98 parkruns since last March. We are going to need to have a serious celebration on our second week “back” when we can celebrate Judy’s 100th.


Also 2 years ago, the week’s first-timers included Laurie Fisher and Lucy Younes. Lucy was getting back into action after some health issues that affected her balance, and a walker-friendly running event was just the ticket. Nowadays we love that we still see Laurie and Lucy almost every weekend along the trail. Always smiling.


Laurie and Lucy's first visit in early 2019


Still smiling on the trail in early 2021

3 years ago we were celebrating birthdays. Ben Flamm brought donut treats to share for his birthday. Fellow birthday girl Violet Ridge was pretty happy about that. In return, Violet brought … herself. This meant that her dad Clark got to run with her, leaving Ben in first-finisher spot for his birthday.


Birthday boy and girl in February 2018 (plus your weekly ration of donut photos)

Also 3 years ago Patrick Wojahn brought along a special guest to CP parkrun. His mom Karen. Karen was visiting from Wisconsin, and she’s another who now joins us regularly from afar. (Though this week it may have been just a little too cold and icy in the Upper Midwest for her normal outing.)


Karen got to visit us for reals in early 2018

4 years ago, one of our first-timers that day was Cindy Feld, who has now completed 100 “classic” and nearly 40 virtual parkruns. These days she and husband Steve join us weekly from their new home in North Carolina. Another silver lining of the pandemic is that we get to hear from Cindy and Steve every week.


Cindy Feld's first time with us, in early 2017

Also 4 years ago, it was only our 17th regular event. It was our 50th week overall of meeting up on the Paint Branch Trail. It was also the last week that we were worried whether the event was going to “work”. 42 joined us that day, similar to what we had seen over those first few months. For the rest of February we saw closer to 80/week at the park. That’s when we knew that the community was on a roll.

Looking Ahead

There is literally nothing new to report this week about plans for a return to traditional in-person events in College Park. It is now 11 months since our last big gathering at Acredale Park. We continue to suspect that a summer restart is our current best case scenario.

We are encouraged to see the sharp recent drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Maryland. The daily average number of new cases is now less than half of what it was in early-mid January. There’s a long way yet to go, but it’s the sharpest fall that we have seen at any point in the pandemic so far.

As for how things unfold from here on, there are a couple of useful indicators from the UK. The UK is currently well ahead of the US in terms of its vaccine roll out. They are on track to have vaccinated almost all seniors and some other key vulnerable groups by mid February, though they are achieving this in part by delaying second doses of 2-shot vaccines. A useful Guardian piece from Saturday on the UK’s likely COVID calendar breaks the timeline into 3 simple stages. Winter will be mostly about reducing deaths. Spring will be mostly about reducing hospitalizations. And summer will be when the biggest effect on case numbers should be seen. That’s because different groups account more for each of these impacts.


We look forward to when we'll see all of Elmer's smile

There are also reasons to be concerned. The UK was overwhelmed in late 2020 by the spread of the new B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, which spreads more rapidly. They were pushed into a worse situation than we have yet encountered in Maryland. It’s now coming under greater control, but only after another hard lockdown. A new report in today’s Washington Post highlights that the UK variant is picking up steam in the US. Estimates are that over the past month it has gone from less than 0.5% of US cases to 3.6% of cases. As we have repeatedly been reminded over the past year, exponential growth is not to be taken lightly. We are not helped by the woefully limited genetic testing in the US, which lags far behind the UK.

Here in College Park, the UK variant of the virus may present our greatest threat in the first half of 2021. UMD has welcomed back thousands of undergraduate students (grad students have mostly been here all along). This brings renewed energy to the city, and it is encouraging news for many local businesses that have struggled over the past year. The campus already had robust monitoring systems in place and it has doubled the frequency of mass testing. UMD may soon account for 15-20% of all COVID-19 tests carried out in Prince George’s County. (As a result, this reduces the county’s overall test positivity rate.)

The UMD COVID-19 dashboard is useful. The Diamondback COVID-19 dashboard is even better in some regards. The Prince George’s County COVID-19 dashboard has more information, though the data tends to be a bit delayed.


Maybe by this time next year we'll be enjoying coffee indoors again

Encouraging news so far. But there appear to be no provisions for increased genetic testing of COVID-19 cases at UMD, and hence no ability to test whether this is affecting the campus. Measures that proved effective at slowing the spread of the virus in crowded student residences in October might not work so well when faced with a more contagious strain in February and March.

One thing that will certainly help is that UMD has the ability to monitor cases closely and act more quickly than anywhere else in the county. In the past couple of days the university’s monitoring picked up an outbreak in La Plata Hall, a student dorm next to the main recreation center, and imposed tightened restrictions to control this. Residents were given just a couple of hours to decide whether to move out for 10 days or to agree to restrictions on movement. Campus surveillance uses a combination of wifi and swipe card monitoring to know who has been where. This makes it possible to respond quickly to alarm signals. Let's hope that proves sufficient.


Heather experimented this week running with a double mask

So we’ll keep on trucking for now. Staying active, connected, and safe as much as we can.

Dinosaur hunt! We were excited to learn about the College Park Dinos event on February 13-14. It’s a great way to encourage folks to get moving around College Park in a family friendly way that also highlights local businesses.

This fits so well with what we have been doing throughout the pandemic that we would love to be a part of this event, and to incorporate the Dino Hunt into CPVp on Saturday 2/13. So we would LOVE to hear from you if you can help with things like dino chalking or signage on local trails. Or if you have other dino related skills or knowledge. The organizers are also keen to draw more visitors to North College Park, so that the whole city is represented. Proteus Bicycles and POSH fitness studio are already involved. If you know of other organizations from Berwyn northwards who might be interested in participating, do let us know.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Those heavy buckets were part of David's training plan this weekend


Track day for Michelle Lemon


Speedy run for Frank Filteau on the Paint Branch Trail


Colin was excited to run the whole 5K this week. Very cautiously.


Possibly this week's last finisher. Andrea found Dave Heintzelman headed to Lake Artemesia at dusk on Saturday.


See you next week!