Glazed (Virtual Report 44)

A couple of weeks ago we recalled the weather events that led us to cancel College Park parkrun in the past. Twice we had a slick trail. Once we had a downed tree by Hump’s Crossing. We had never had an ice storm before this weekend! After a couple of weekends with snow warnings that turned out to be a letdown … just like most snow events in the DMV, this weekend the Saturday weather turned out to be worse than expected.

Fortunately, the virtual format gives us a lot of flexibility, so we were able to find many ways to ensure that you could still do your CPVp. Some headed out early to beat the storm. We “extended Saturday” (now THAT is a winning electoral platform) so that some could get in their activity on “second Saturday”. Some did their CPVp indoors on the treadmill. And others cleverly planned ahead by living in places like Hawaii or Costa Rica, ensuring that the weather would not interfere with their CPVp. Brilliant!

And with that, we ended up with a close-to-normal turnout, despite the ice storm.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Feels great once you get warmed up. Right?

Facts and Figures

  • 156 virtual parkrunners
  • 640 miles covered
  • 2 first-timers
  • 1 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 3 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 12 barkrunners
  • 6 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: This week we passed 50,000 km covered since we started CPVp last May.

That’s the equivalent of 10,000 times heading up the Paint Branch Trail to Lisa’s turnaround spot and back. Assuming that you say hi to Hump in both directions, that means that you’d get to greet him 20,000 times.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 44

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There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. Shackleton is equipped!

Glazed

We might normally use the adjective “glazed” at CPVp in the context of donuts. But this week we were getting glazed everything in the DMV, thanks to the ice storm that started earlier than expected.

Ice storms occur when precipitation falls as cold rain, landing on cold surfaces where it quickly freezes. This can lead to a layer of ice forming on everything. It can be fascinating, and beautiful. But also dangerous. Roads and sidewalks can quickly turn to ice rinks. Vegetation and power lines can be weighed down so much by the weight of ice that they can cause extensive damage and power outages.

Fun fact: 30 years ago there was a devastating ice storm in Rochester, NY, causing $375M worth of damage. At the time it was one of the worst natural disasters in New York State history. It’s even listed in the Wikipedia page about ice storms, so it must be notable. Colin and Andrea were both students in Rochester at the time, and when Colin’s power went out he got to spend a lot more time at the house where Andrea was living. The rest is history, as they say.

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Rochester, NY in 1991

Many of you headed out early, hoping to beat the freezing rain. But it started earlier than expected, so we heard many stories about running and walking in the ice.

Tomas Marambio, back in College Park just a couple of weeks after enjoying summer weather in Santiago, Chile, described the experience of running in the ice storm as “new, but fun”.

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Still standing

Many made the decision to stay indoors, but didn’t want to miss out. So we had a record number of treadmill parkruns this week. In fact, this may be the first week that we had more treadmill parkruns than barkrunners.

That’s maybe a little unfair, since it was because of the treadmills that some barkrunners missed out. Some looked forlornly out the window. Others opted to take a nap instead.

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Barkrunner Lizzie missed her CPVp friends while Joanne worked out on the elliptical

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Divide and conquer! Anna did the treadmill part. Marlow was on nap duty.

Other people found alternative ways to do an indoor virtual parkrun.

Kristie Atwood ran laps of her apartment in Greenbelt, and sent us a video as evidence. We’re not sure how many laps this involved, but it was surely a lot.

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Try not to get dizzy, Kristie

Lisa Wilson had the smart idea to do her CPVp at Columbia Mall, where there is a lot of space to walk. Only problem is, the landmarks aren’t quite as distinctive as on the Paint Branch Trail. So it was hard to remember where she had parked.

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The weather wasn't going to keep Elmer inside

Alternate Weather

Not everybody was dealing with ice. Janet Grudzien John got some sun on behalf of all of us in Hawaii.

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Still not jealous of your weather, Janet. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

Carlos Chaverri-Morales took in this beautiful vista for all of us, from around 2,000 meters of altitude in Cerro el Tablón, Costa Rica.

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Mountain views in Costa Rica

In other places it was colder and snowier. Karen and Dennis Wojahn -- parents of College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn -- were in snowy Green Bay, WI, where they headed out on XC skis for their CPVp. Also, congratulations are in order, as it was Karen’s 25th CPVp. Excellent!

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parkski!

Like many others, Dan Owen couldn’t leave the house this week. But for a different reason. He had made a trip back to visit his mum in England, possibly getting in just ahead of new travel restrictions from the UK government. So he’s quarantined for 10 days. And without his barkrunner Gifford. So he did 60 laps of the back garden.

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At least it looks like a nice back yard for all those laps

Special Events

We had various plans for special events this weekend. Oh well.

We promoted the College Park Dino Hunt, a cool city-wide scavenger hunt to help bring attention to local businesses. We were also looking forward to chalking dinos on the trail. Never mind.

Well, Judy Mason did see this plastic dino on her run in Garrett Park, MD.

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Somebody found a dino!

And although it’s not a dinosaur, barkrunner Shackleton did make a cool fossil-like discovery on his walk on the beach at Bethany Beach, DE. It’s apparently a dolphin vertebra. Cool find, Shack!

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Almost a dino fossil

We were looking forward to taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a global bird census event. Instead we were peering out the windows at CPVp Towers, watching as birds struggled to get ice out of their feathers.

By Sunday, things were a little better. Meridith and Matt Phillips found hawks, geese, ducks, and this majestic great blue heron on their jaunt along the Paint Branch Trail.

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And it won’t come as a surprise that Andrea Zukowski found a LOT of birds on her CPVp, in addition to some pretty ice formations. Her haul: pileated woodpecker, cardinal, white-throated sparrow, robin, kingfisher, grackles, seagulls, American coot, geese, pie-billed grebes, heron, hooded mergansers, hawk, northern shovelers, and a bald eagle.

These reports normally feature a lot of Andrea’s photos of parkrunners along the trail. This week not so much, because the weather was so bad on Saturday morning. So we get to enjoy some of her nature photography instead. Thanks, Andrea!

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Spring is comingandrea-zukowski-pileated-web

Pileated woodpecker, pecking through the iceandrea-zukowski-ice-web

Pretty ice formationsandrea-zukowski-heron-web

Who ya lookin at?andrea-zukowski-cardinal-web

Also, amid all the other excitement of the weekend, we almost forgot that it was Valentine’s Day. Clearly some of you remembered better than we did. A few of you got out for a 5K or more with your pandemic partner for February 14th.

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Valentines parkrun for Neha and Yogarshi

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Josh and Lara took a break from being weather superheroes (really, they had a crazy busy week as meteorologists) to get in a Valentines parkrun

Milestones and More

It was little surprise that we saw few first-timers this week. Or that our two first-timers were well outside the DMV. And maybe even that they were barkrunners. In any case, welcome to Captain and Buoy, a pair of barkrunners who enjoyed a walk with Team Feld in Cary, NC.

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Welcome Captain and Buoy!

We had ONE new 5-timer in Rebekah Benson-Flannery. Good job, Rebekah!

THREE more virtual parkrunners earned a 10-timer Turtle badge. Meghan Gieske was getting it done in the snow in South Bend, IN. Meghan surely wasn’t the only one who went digging for the Yaktrax this weekend. Marilyn Langley (Louise Godley’s mum) got in her walk in Chelmsford, UK. And Greg Ervin was probably running in Ohio.

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Snowy trail in South Bend, IN for Meghan Gieske

Finally, we had THREE new recipients of 25-timer cake badges. Congratulations to Karen Wojahn (see picture above), to Rebecca White (who did a treadmill CPVp during the ice storm), and to barkrunner Roo. Roo took a hike to Lake Artemesia on Sunday with humans Dom Blom and Michael Iati. It was a little muddier than expected, so Roo needed a bath afterwards.

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Roo earned a cake badge

This is the spot where we often report PBs and other notable feats. We’re not aware of any PBs this weekend. It just wasn’t that kind of weekend.

Virtual Volunteers

With our extended window of opportunity this week, our virtual volunteers were on deck for an extended tour of duty. Thanks to:

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

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

Looking Back

Looking back at our albums from this weekend in past years brought back good memories, as usual.

We were struck by finding rare pictures of current/former mayors Patrick Wojahn and Duane Rosenberg running together on this weekend in both 2019 and 2020. Probably no coincidence. They would have been resting up ahead of the traditional Presidents’ Day weekend marathon in Greenbelt.

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Patrick and Duane in 2020patrick-wojahn-2019-web

Patrick and Duane in 2019

On this weekend in 2019 Rebecca White completed her first 5K. That was a big achievement then, which she described in a story in this blog. Two years on, and the cool thing is that it’s not particularly surprising that her total of virtual and classic parkruns is fast approaching 50.

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Rebecca's first 5K. Now she's approaching 50 CP(V)ps

On this weekend in 2018 we were celebrating Frank Filteau’s 50th time. Impressively, he completed that just 350 days after his first time. Impressive. This Saturday Frank was out on the trail on Saturday morning, as usual. In shorts!

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February 2018. Frank's 50th. Exactly one year later he was wearing the 100 sash.

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February 2021. No sash. But shorts!

Going back 4 years to this weekend in 2017, we made one of our earliest parkrunner of the month awards -- to Gus Campbell. Across both formats, Gus has now completed over 200 parkruns. Not at all bad for somebody who reports that he restarted running after a break of many decades.

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February 2017. Gus was one of our first PoTM honorees

Looking Ahead

We’re cautiously optimistic about the progress of the pandemic. One month ago daily case counts in Maryland were at their peak, with around 3,000 new infections reported each day. Now they’re at around 1,000 per day. That’s still a lot. But a two-thirds drop in a month is better than we’ve seen at any point in the pandemic.

We could yet be hit by a fourth wave of the virus, driven by one of the new variants. (We’re watching New York and surrounding states with interest right now.) But if the current trends were to continue, by mid-April we’d be seeing only one tenth of the number of cases that we’re seeing now. At that point it starts to become more difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise, when the number of true positives gets close to the number of false positives.

In fact, we may already be getting close to that level in College Park, based on the data we see from UMD’s mass testing of around 6,000 people per week. UMD is currently seeing around 0.5% positive tests. That’s close to the estimated false positive rate for PCR tests.

This is not to deny that the virus is out there or that it’s serious. It is definitely serious. It’s just to say that we may be headed towards a time where it’s hard to tell what’s happening around us. And ironically that’s because we’re in a college town, where we have a large young population that is less likely to show clear COVID symptoms, and that is being tested more than any other part of the local population.

Last August we were writing in this column about widespread local fear about the return of students to College Park. Six months later we have many reasons to feel proud and appreciative of what they have done for the city.

What does any of this mean for the return of in person events? That’s really hard to tell. This week Angela Gentile and TJ Hool did an in-person 5K in Bethany Beach, DE. Kris Sooklal did an in-person marathon in Oak Island, NC. Both of these used modified procedures to spread people out. And, of course, they were in different states.

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Chilly 5K in Delaware for TJ Kool and Angela Gentile

This week’s COVID-19 update in the parkrun global blog states: “We know that outdoor settings present a low risk of transmission of COVID-19, and given the urgent need to support and improve public health, we strongly believe that parkrun should be one of the first activities allowed back when restrictions are lifted.”

This is all reasonable, but it’s hard to predict how things will unfold for us in College Park. We suspect that if K-12 schools return to in-person instruction and somewhat regular sports, then that should create greater openness to restarting our in person events. We don’t see much prospect for large gatherings while thousands of local parents are still homeschooling.

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Congratulations to our Melton Mowbray friends

In the meantime, though, it’s full steam ahead with our virtual events, and we’re counting down the weeks now until our 50th event, coming up at the end of March. In fact, our virtual parkrun friends in Melton Mowbray, UK already reached that point this weekend. They apparently devised a clever plan for socially distanced distribution of their celebratory cake.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Scene on Adrien Harrison's run in Columbia, MD

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There was a layer of ice on Lori's cap by the time she was done

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Kazuko (and Mika) enjoying the snow in Berlinfoxy-web

Barkrunner Foxy enjoying the snow in Ohio

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Barkrunner Shannon, in Greensboro, NC, says, "See you next week!"