A Fresh Start (Virtual Report 41)

It was a cold start to the weekend. Not the lowest temperatures that we have seen this winter, but temperatures around freezing combined with stiff breezes to make it feel much colder than it actually was.

A “fresh start” would be a slightly euphemistic way of describing how it felt to get outside yesterday. That’s also a good euphemism for what happened in Washington DC this past week. We’re happy to see the thousands of National Guard troops leaving the city. We’re happy that shuttered metro stations are reopening. We’re happy that new federal action could help to improve the trajectory of the pandemic.

Many of you enjoyed hearing 2017 Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman perform in front of the Capitol during the inauguration on Wednesday. We confess that we didn’t know that Youth Poet Laureate was a thing. But regular readers of this report will recall that just a couple of weeks ago we featured a poet laureate with ties to our community. Barkrunner Eli educated us in our New Years report about Reed Whittemore, a College Park resident and UMD English professor who was US poet laureate on two separate occasions. There's a sign commemorating him along the Trolley Trail where many people do their CPVp each week.

In previous winters, this weekend’s cold weather would have kept a lot of people away from our in-person events. That didn’t happen at this week’s CPVp #41. So we have lots to share this week, as always.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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The face masks helped us to stay warm this week (yeah, and that other thing, too)
Heather said: can you see that she's smiling under the mask?

Facts and Figures

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

Stat(s) of the week: January 2021 is unusual for having SIX CPVp days. That’s because we have 5 Saturdays plus New Years Day. We challenged you to get out and get active on as many of those days as possible. Here are the counts with 1 remaining Saturday in January.

5 times: 87
4 times: 39
3 times: 35
2 times: 45
1 time: 106
Total: 312

Nice going! We’ll update with end-of-the-month totals next week. Then we can restart the counts for February, when you’ll only have 4 Saturdays to cover.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 41

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Adrien Harrison is one of the many people (and pups) on track for 6 CPVps in January

A very fresh start

The main thing that we heard in this week’s activity reports is how cold it was. It wasn’t so much the temperature as the wind that was blowing from the north in the DMV.

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Pam Marcus demonstrates alternative ways to put a hot tea to good use

Erin Munsell did a 15-miler as a warm-up for the weekend, joining with Jen Murphy for 10 of those miles. A few miles from the end, Jen noticed that Erin’s hair was frozen.

Lisa Wilson reported that her 5K on the Paint Branch Trail took 42 minutes for the first half and 18 minutes for the return journey. These times may be “approximate”, but we understand the sentiment.

In a week that started with troops on the National Mall and ended with memes about Bernie Sanders’ mittens, Joan Heffernan was making good use of her mittens for her CPVp in Suffield, CT. Joan reports that they were a gift from a former student. What a great way to share appreciation for a teacher!

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Nice mittens, Joan!

Further afield, Meridith Phillips was feeling the full force of the wind as she did her CPVp along an empty beach in Nags Head, NC.

And much further afield, Rach and John Cousen were scoping out the flooding that recently hit much of the UK, including their region of Leicestershire. They walked with the “village flood warden” (yeah, we didn’t know that was a thing). Conveniently enough, the local flood was about 2.5 km from home. Perfect for a virtual parkrun!

Wherever you want … or can

One of the popular venues for CPVp activities is the Trolley Trail that extends from North College Park through Riverdale Park to Hyattsville, conveniently ending close to Franklin’s Brewery and General Store and Vigilante Coffee, among other excellent local businesses. The trail follows the route of the old #82 streetcar line that ran along Rhode Island Avenue. See a cool video of the old route here.

This week we learned about another Trolley Trail that is now on our list of places to visit. The Number Nine Trolley Trail in Ellicott City is where Andrea Solan did her CPVp this week. It covers part of the route of an old line from Ellicott City to Catonsville that was in use in the first half of the 20th century. That boardwalk through a ravine looks really enticing.

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Andrea Solan on the "other" Trolley Trail

Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Vyas did their CPVp by walking laps of the parking lot of Graduate Hills apartments on the western edge of the UMD campus. Yogarshi is dealing with some knee issues, so this was the safest way to get his weekly 5K in. Neha noted that it wasn’t the most scenic 5K route ever, but she conceded that the company was pretty good. We wish Yogarshi a speedy recovery!

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Now that's a fine compliment!

We were surprised to learn that the venue for Robin Phillips’ CPVp this week was the Austrian city of Innsbruck (one of only 3 cities to host the Winter Olympics twice … though soon there will be a fourth, do you know where that is?). We were feeling jealous. But then we learned the backstory. Robin and family are isolating at home due to recent community spread of the coronavirus in a local elementary school. So Robin was running on his treadmill, with a choice of a fake location or staring out the window. Ok, so we’re no longer so jealous.

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Yeah, that route looks legit

Mayor to Mayor

Trails for walking and biking are one of our favorite things. In College Park we are fortunate to have so many good options. They’re continuing to improve, too. If you’ve noticed the road works along Route 1 in College Park, that’s in part because of work on creating a new bike lane. If you're not in College Park and this means nothing to you, let's just say that this is a big deal, as our main artery is about as non bike-friendly as a road can be.

There are many reasons to feel optimistic about the choice of Pete Buttigieg as the new federal Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg, AKA Mayor Pete, is the former mayor of South Bend, IN who made a splash on the 2020 presidential election trail. The Washington Post recently featured a story about his efforts to rethink streetscapes in South Bend during his time as mayor there.

Our own “Mayor Patrick” is also keen on trails and public transportation. So we were excited to see this clip of him asking Buttigieg about biker and pedestrian infrastructure at this week's US Conference of Mayors meeting.

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Mayor Patrick speaks with Mayor Pete

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed FIVE first-timers to CPVp. On such a cold day, that’s maybe more than we expected. Barkrunner Clyde was running in Livonia, MI, so he’s probably used to the cold. Mickey Lanigan joined us from Central Florida, so we suspect that her weather was a little milder. Amber Marcut, Ellen Hamilton, and Shikha Manandhar are all locals. Welcome to Shikha, who joined us once before for an in person event in 2019, and to Amber, who is a genuine first-timer. Yay!

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Welcome Shikha!

Ellen has joined us for a number of CPp events before, both as runner/walker and volunteer. One that stands out in our memory is Memorial Day weekend 2017 when we welcomed parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt, together with a crowd of 180 that seemed huge at the time, though it’s now a regular winter day for CP Virtual parkrun. We were concerned about trail congestion, so we assigned Ellen the role of “lead bike” to warn other trail users. But when she reached the Dead Marshes area of the course she discovered what appeared to be an injured duckling on the side of the trail. So she quickly shifted her role to duckling protection (a role that is not included in the list of official volunteer roles).

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Ellen's first time volunteering at CPp didn't turn out as planned

THREE more people earned a High Five badge for their 5th CPVp: Dan Pearlstein, Deborah Gayle, and Crystal Bergemann. Deborah headed out at 5:30am when it was even colder than it was for most of us. Dan became a regular parkrunner last winter, shortly before we went virtual. Crystal was one of our original CP parkrunners, taking part in our official launch event. She was also one of the earliest winners of our parkrunner of the month award. So it was great to see her name pop up in this week’s Facebook feed.

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Crystal in early 2017, receiving the PoTM award

We also saw THREE new proud recipients of our Ten-Timer Turtle badges: Rach Cousen, Monique Richards, and Rod Green. Monique and Rod are both locals and regular runners with Prince George’s Running Club. Rach is one of our recruits from Melton Mowbray Virtual parkrun in the UK. The turtle badge may be especially suitable this week, since Rach did her virtual parkrun with her village flood warden.

And we also saw FOUR new members of our 25-timer club, now displaying cake badges in the weekly results table: Zak Mellen, Michael Bevers, Adam Gann, and barkrunner Walker.

Notably, although this group has completed 100 CPVps between them, probably only around 15% of those have been completed anywhere near College Park. Adam and Walker join us from Detroit, and Michael from Charleston, WV. Zak is definitely local -- this week he’ll be helping to manage College Park’s population surge, as part of the UMD Resident Life team. His CPVps tend to be split between local runs on the Paint Branch Trail and runs in Northern Virginia.

Just a few of the other notable things that reached our inbox this week.

Jen Matis again completed her longest run ever, covering almost 8 miles. If you’re following along, you’ll know that it will take a 10 mile round trip for Jen to reach the vegan donuts at Donut Run in Takoma. Getting closer! Do you have a goal that you’re working towards? We’d love to hear about it.

This week’s virtual tailwalkers, completing the 5K in 1:39, were Team Schneider. That’s Erin, Joshua, Samantha, and Mary Clare. This was a notable achievement, because it was Erin’s first time completing the 5K distance since the first of her foot surgeries back in October. Fantastic! It’s also notable because of young James Schneider’s outfit, which had us all wishing we had a Baby Yoda suit of our own.

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We want a Baby Yoda onesie!

At the other end of the speed range, our fastest time of the week was by Katie Hirsche, as is often the case these days. We actually had one faster time. Speedster Sam Phipps shared the following:

“I actually ran pretty fast today. Legs and old injury felt good. But I failed at hitting my watch. It said 30ish seconds, not even Eliud Kipchoge can run 3.3 mi in 30 seconds!”

(Fun fact: Eliud Kipchoge's 1:59:40 marathon time from 2019 equates to around 14:10 per 5K, eight times over. That's fast.)

If Sam said that he ran “pretty fast”, then that’s probably an understatement. We’re happy to see that he’s getting back in shape, and we all can look forward to the day when we’re able to come back together on the Paint Branch Trail and watch him whiz past in the opposite direction as we head towards the turnaround.

Finally, in the “gluttons for punishment” category, this week’s clear winners were David Lai, Dami Alao, and Malik Al-Jame. Not only did they complete a trail half marathon around Greenbelt National Park. They decided to make it more interesting by pausing every 2 miles for 25 air squats, 25 push ups, a 60-second plank, and 10 burpees. Yikes!

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Hard core!

Virtual Volunteers

Many thanks to this week’s virtual volunteer crew! It takes at least as much time and energy to put on these virtual events as it does the in person events. So this wouldn’t be possible without a team each week.

Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Trace Huard: results (Facebook)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: results, report, and propaganda
Heather Sisan: photo management and cheerleading
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email and photos

Here’s what the virtual volunteer crew does each week.

First, they collect up the activities, pictures, and stories that flow in across multiple channels throughout Saturday (Strava, Facebook, email, online form, Andrea’s camera). The activities are all entered into a big Google Sheet that Tara manages. Pictures are labeled and saved to our Google Drive archive.

We do a preliminary sort early evening, so that we can share an “instant feedback” summary post to our Facebook followers on Saturday evening.

Saturday night and on Sunday we check and format the results, sort stories, write prose, trim and compress photos, and upload the report to our website. We focus on putting it on the website, as that's the location that the most people can see.

Then we share the report and results to all of our channels. They generally go right away to Facebook, Strava, and Instagram. We try to keep our emails to once per week, so the report and results links tend to go out in the weekly email at the end of the week.

Then we rinse and repeat.

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

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Thanks to Trace for joining the virtual volunteer crew this week

Barkrunners

This week the barkrunners had mixed feelings about getting outside in the cold. Some could’nt wait to get started. Others were happy to stay home in bed. Some may have been eager to get out and then thought better of it.

Gloria Cottman took Tuffi out on the Paint Branch Trail early the day for a morning 5K. She figured that was probably enough for the day, but Scruffi had other ideas, and gave Gloria sad looks throughout the day until she took her out. So Gloria got to do her second 5K of the day. And Scruffi set a PB for 5K! Scruffi is not among the younger pups, but she has gotten into the 5K habit very recently. She’s a canine example of what we have seen so many times before in humans: it’s never too late to get a little more active.

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Tuffi got to do the morning 5K

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Scruffi got the afternoon shift

Roo got to go out with Dom Blom and Michael Iati on the Paint Branch Trail, and seemed to be pretty happy about it.

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Roo enjoyed his outing with Dom and Michael

Shackleton started his run by heading south on the Paint Branch Trail, with the help of a brisk “tail” wind. When he reached Acredale Park, Angela said that it was time to turn back into the teeth of the wind. Shackleton had other thoughts.

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Keep. Heading. South.

Eli was out exploring Hyattsville with Ellen, as usual. This week they found another cool mural. This one was painted by artist Demont Pinder. This mural is very new, and it was featured in a recent story in The Hyattsville Wire (which we recommend as a great source for local happenings and history).

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New mural!foxy-web

Foxy looks pretty happy to be outside

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Gifford is actually happy to be outside, too. That's just his RBF (resting barkrunner face)

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Barkrunner Tucker went for a jaunt with Amy Rice. ... And we realized that we have TWO barkrunners named Tucker in our CPVp database. Tara, help!

Looking Back

One year ago, on a wet morning in College Park when the Paint Branch Stream had turned into a raging river, complete with kayakers, we welcomed the Barnes family from Newcastle, Australia: Michelle, Craig, Jack, Lachlan, and Lacy.

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The raging Paint Branch Stream, one year ago

Older son Jack was first finisher that day. Fortunately he didn’t leave the locals too far behind, as we had to make some course improvisations on the fly during the event, to put a turn around cone in the right place for our two-lap course.

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That's called a mid-course adjustment

Mom Michelle ran with Lachlan, and dad Craig ran with Lacy. It was a little colder than they’re accustomed to, but they seemed to have a good time.

This week we were delighted to hear from Michelle, who shared this picture of Lacy from last week’s Paradise Point parkrun in Gold Coast, Queensland. Lacy recently turned 11, earning the freedom to run without a parental chaperone. She marked it by running a speedy 22:24 PB and finishing as first female that day. Nice job, Lacy!

Needless to say, we’re also jealous of the fact that life is so normal now in Australia. Let’s hope that we can get to something like that in 2021. We're willing to compromise: we'll forgo the beach if we can just get together in the park.

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Nice PB Lacy! ... And look at that beach!!!

Looking Ahead

Two questions that we’re facing everywhere we look in 2021 are: “When will things get back to normal?” and “What will ‘normal’ actually look like when we get there?”

In education, we’re likely going to see more hybrid in-person and virtual learning in the future. Maybe not so much for elementary schoolers. But certainly for the higher education that’s a big part of what happens in College Park. Workplaces are likely to be more hybrid, especially for many local workers who have skipped their daily commute to downtown DC over the past year.

But what about running and walking communities like ours?

We have written often about the pros and cons of in-person vs. virtual events in this column. It’s clear that some people are served better by one or the other format. It's also that some people are served well by different formats on different days. They're local enough to join us regularly, but sometimes they can't get to be with us at 9am. So is there a future for hybrid events?

The simple answer is that we just don’t know. But we were interested to read this week that the London Marathon, one of the world’s premier races, is leaning in to the hybrid approach for 2021.

Normally around 40,000 gather in London for the marathon each April. Last fall a similar number took part in a virtual version of the London Marathon, including a half dozen CPVp regulars. Many other CP parkrunners took part in other virtual fall marathons, sometimes using the CP parkrun route as a venue. Overall sentiment was, “Well, that was better than expected!”

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Stewart's looking forward to getting back to normal after fracturing his arm. He did his first ever marathon in this year's Virtual London Marathon. 

The 2021 London Marathon will take place in early October, in the hope that coronavirus restrictions are relaxed by then. The plan is to have 50,000 in-person participants in London, and also to have 50,000 virtual runners taking part on the same day around the UK and around the world, for a total of 100,000. That will make it the world’s largest marathon. Ever.

We will be curious to see how it works out. We don’t know, for example, how the integration of simultaneous in-person and virtual events will be handled, if at all.

Is any of this relevant to our community? There are a lot of differences between the London Marathon and College Park parkrun, in terms of scale, budget (theirs is many millions, ours is $0), and visibility (they're a national institution, we're tiny).

But there are a couple of points of connection that make this speculation less idle.

First, parkrun and the London Marathon are both products of the same running community in south west London. The two organizations have deep connections going back many years, and they have partnered on a various projects, including the growth of parkrun events in London a few years ago. Fun fact: the founders of the London Marathon and parkrun came from the same running club, Ranelagh Harriers. That club is also ‘twinned’ with our local Montgomery County Road Runners, which many College Park and Kensington parkrunners belong to. In fact, when we were working with Pam Marcus and her team to get Kensington parkrun started, the connection to Ranelagh Harriers proved valuable in getting support from MCRRC.

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Even if we can't cheer you in person, we'll do the next best thing(s). Our signs are no longer spread along the trail. But they can be found at Acredale Park on Saturdays.

Second, the virtual London Marathon and College Park Virtual parkrun stand out for being among the more successful examples of their genre. And for similar reasons.

We don’t anticipate that many of this past year’s virtual races will be interested in holding hybrid events in the future. Deservedly popular local events like the popular Celtic Solstice 5 miler in Baltimore aren’t going to be looking to hold parallel virtual races. Don't expect to see a virtual Cherry Blossom 10 miler in 2022. There’s little demand and little upside for the organizers. Locally, the Army Ten Miler might be an exception, as there is a well defined audience of potential participants, in whatever locations troops are stationed around the world.

The London Marathon was unusual among virtual races in 2020 for finding a model that felt a bit more like an actual event. Everybody did their marathon in the same 24-hour window. The organizers, and their partners at the BBC, used electronic communications to create more of a sense of participation and connection. Here in College Park, Colin Phillips teamed up with some CP parkrunners to live stream his run to the BBC’s "digital wall". The organizers created an app that made a noble effort to help participants feel that they were part of something larger than themselves. A lot of people reported that it was a surprisingly good experience. The extra effort paid off. We followed the evolution of virtual races over the past year, and the ones that got the best feedback managed to make the social engagement feel genuine.

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Colin was excited this week to run injury-free. He's hoping to get back to marathon shape by the fall. If travel or the pandemic makes it impossible for him to get to London to do the marathon in person, he knows that the virtual event will be a fun alternative. And the venue for that is already clear.

There are parallels to CPVp. Participation actually increased over our in-person events. We regularly hear from people who tell us that they are surprised at how well it has worked. We are surprised, too. We know that it’s not the same as in-person events, and there are many people who we’re just not serving like we used to. But the focus on using communications for social support is the key.

It’s still way too early to know how things will unfold for us here in College Park, and across our now distributed community. But this week’s move by one of the world’s top running events means that the notion of hybrid events is suddenly a more serious idea.

Meanwhile, wrap up warm, and we look forward to hearing from you again next week for CP Virtual parkrun #42.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Debbie enjoyed quality time with her daughter Nina on the trail this week

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Good morning, Elmer!

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Lori looking stylish in her Maryland flag mask

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Tim and Emma Keer are among the big crew that have completed all 5 CPVps this month. Here they are in snowy Michigan for their very first parkrun, 4 years ago this weekend.

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Bud can be found on the trail every Saturday morning, working up an appetite for ...

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No, not for ALL of them

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Chilly social-but-distanced coffee meetup at the Discovery District Park

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See you next week!

 

Standing Together (Virtual Report 40)

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.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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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.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 39

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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.

Standing Together

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

Welcome wagon

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.

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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.

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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!

Virtual Volunteers

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 collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

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Could be referring to CPVp volunteers. Could be something else. Who knows!

Barkrunners

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!

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Pakora enjoyed sprints at the park

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Shackleton's going to be a big brother! (And congrats to Angela and TJ!)

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Another week, another 5K for Scruffi in Rehoboth Beach

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Sitting pretty -- Belle and Tuffi in Rehoboth Beach

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Oliver stopped by the social-but-distanced coffee with Russell to make some friends

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Ellen Oberholtzer and Eli visited another public art installation in Hyattsville, this one by Bronwyn King Design.

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Turnaround "marshal" for Anna Weber's virtual parkrun in Arlington

Looking Back

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.

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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.

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Rory eventually made it to College Park. Right after Lisa sent the parkrunners on their way up the trail.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Looking Ahead

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.

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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.

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Happy trails

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.

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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

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Life begins at 40

(And good to see your finger recovering, Lori)

 

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Jeremy is going further and further. This week he conquered the Scary Mountain Beyond Lisa, and followed the Paint Branch Trail to Beltsville

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Welcome back from Florida, Elmer!

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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.

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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. 

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Louise: the feeling of running down the middle of Sligo Creek Parkway never gets oldpgrc-web

See you next week!

 

Let them eat cake! (Virtual Report 39)

We started off 2021 with such optimism! This week has certainly put that positivity to the test.

As if the most deadly week so far of the pandemic in the US was not enough, on Wednesday we saw a violent mob break into the US Capitol, incited by the sitting president. This was just a few miles from where most of you live. Some of you were under a curfew order on Wednesday evening, in order to protect you from rioters. We’re feeling shaken. Probably many of you are, too.

There is so much more to be said about this week. Who knows what the next couple of weeks might bring. But on Saturday it felt really, really good to get outside, to get moving, and to see some smiling faces, whether online or along the trails. We are impressed that so many of you took part this week, despite the cold temperatures.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Clare, Joanne, and Lizzie enjoying the Paint Branch Trail

Facts and Figures

  • 180 virtual parkrunners
  • 775 miles covered
  • 2 first-timers
  • 3 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 4 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 2 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 14 barkrunners
  • 8 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: Exactly 5 years ago, the first Fletcher’s Cove parkrun was held, along the C&O Canal towpath in Washington DC. It was the first event of its kind in the DMV, and it directly led to the start of College Park parkrun.

Among the 166 finishers at that event were Andrea Zukowski and Colin Phillips, who started gathering friends at the Paint Branch Trail starting the very next week.

Finishers also included Simon Wraight, who nowadays joins us every week from New Hampshire. And Dan Owen, who later became the event director at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun. And Cathryn Burby, whose mom Joan Heffernan now joins us every week from Connecticut.

Finishers also included Maria Cecil, Evan Hirsche, and 12-year old Katie Hirsche, who finished in a time of 31:30. As of this weekend, the family has completed 217 College Park parkruns, 77 CP Virtual parkruns (plus 16 by barkrunner Sophie). And Katie has volunteered 50 times (25 “classic” events and 25 virtual) and is our course record holder.

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January 9th 2016, Fletcher's Cove parkrun launch

Oh, and one more finisher, who has been visible in the news this week. She doesn’t appear in the official results from the day, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser was also among that first group. We appreciated her support then, and we have definitely been appreciating her support for the DMV community this week.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 39

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Muriel Bowser has had a busy week

Let them eat cake (donuts)!

You may be reminded of the words of an ill-fated monarch. Really not sure what made us think of that right now. But no, we’re talking about actual donuts.

Erin Munsell has the distinction of doing this week’s longest virtual parkrun at 17+ miles along Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park. When we saw this we immediately figured that Erin must be getting ready for a virtual marathon. But it turned out that she ran into Jen Murphy and Eliza Kempton part way through her run, and was talked into joining them for a run to DC for donuts. Brian Murphy shared pictorial evidence.

Kudos to Erin for such dedication to quality fueling. We also think it’s super cool to see that Erin can now just decide on a whim to do a 17-miler. Some of you may recall that when Erin first joined us in 2017 or so, it was her very first 5K. By the start of the pandemic she had completed her 98th parkrun. (We cannot wait to bestow the black sash on her later this year. Together with Judy Barnes, also currently stalled at 98.) She has come a long way!

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Yum!

Yes, anywhere

Some of you were discovering cool new places to run or walk this week.

Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Vyas headed over to Greenbelt National Park to run the Perimeter Trail for the first time, and decided that it was the most fun workout they had done in ages.

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Andres Mbouh did a long run from Georgetown to Bethesda (and back) on the Capital Crescent Trail. That’s the right way to do it, as you get to enjoy the smooth downhill on the return journey.

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Andres at the tunnel on the Capital Crescent Trail

Meridith Phillips mostly had ocean foam for company on her beach run in Nags Head, NC.

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Wait, that's not Meridith, and that's not the Atlantic Ocean -- that's her sister Adrien, by a creek in Columbia, MD

Most “interesting” route of the week may go to Marianne Poon, who ran laps of the parking garage in her building to stay warmer. Marianne narrowly edged out John Maneval, who appears to have been conducting a detailed survey of the parking lot at the Navy Stadium in Annapolis.

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Interesting choice of route, John!

Cindy Cohen was back in the mountains in Sandpoint, ID. The first half of her 5K climbed 560 feet in 1.6 miles. In the snow. Which prompts the question: is this the steepest first half of a parkrun that we know of?

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That looks steep!

Answer: yes, probably. But it’s very close. Cindy’s route climbed 350 feet per mile for the first mile and a half. By comparison, the regular route of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller parkrun in Woodstock, VT climbs 360 feet in the first 1.1 miles, for a rate of 330 feet per mile.

We highly recommend a visit to MBR parkrun if you’re ever in Vermont. And as it happens, Derek Symer is there right now, hibernating in neighboring village of Queechee, from where he checked in for his virtual parkrun this week. We’re not sure if the regular MBR route is open in the winter months, though, as it is sometimes groomed as the local XC ski trail.

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed TWO first-timers. Xinzi He has been a regular CP parkrunner and volunteer, but this was her first virtual run. Lesley Mayhew was walking the trail for the first time, as far as we know, helping to ensure that husband Stewart behaved himself. Stewart fell on ice and fractured his arm a couple of weeks ago, and so he is grounded from running for a few weeks, but was still enjoying the trail. Speedy recovery, Stewart!

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One year ago

THREE new 5-timers earned a high five badge: John Rigg, barkrunner Belle, and Christina McNamee-Mahaffey. John represents District 3 on College Park City Council. Yet more evidence that we have healthy leadership in College Park. And Christina celebrated her 5th CPVp by joining the virtual volunteer crew for the first time.

We awarded FOUR new ten-timer turtle badges: Maria Cecil, Andrea Maas, Kat M, and Pam Marcus.

Maria was part of the crew who attended the first ever parkrun in DC 5 years ago this weekend. Pam first joined us on our big Memorial Day weekend event in 2017 when parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt joined us. Pam went on to become founder of Kensington parkrun, and she’s looking forward to picking up on the momentum that she had built before the pandemic. And Andrea is a parkrunner who has never been able to join us in person. But we hope that once we’re back in person she’ll be able to make the journey up from Greensboro, NC to visit us (and Carly, of course).

Finally, we had TWO new 25-timers this week in Janet Grudzien John and Peter Rosenberg. Janet helps to keep us salivating over her oceanside pictures. Back in the spring she was joining us from Newport, RI, but these days she’s based in Honolulu, HI, making her easily the westernmost CP virtual parkrunner. And a special shout out this week to Peter Rosenberg, who set a new PB of 24:59, running with dad Brian and mom Jessica in Mechanicsburg, PA. Peter is 9 (or so) years old, and he’s clearly gaining in speed.

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Janet wasn't feeling the cold like those of us in the DMV

One additional mention this week for Dale Morey, who has been quietly gaining fitness. He came out to the Paint Branch Trail this week and ran the regular 5K course exactly one second faster than his PB for CP parkrun. Nice job, Dale!

Virtual Volunteers

A shout out to this week’s 8 virtual volunteers, who helped to keep the show on the road.

Angela Gentile: picture collector
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Andrea Maas: cheerleading
Christina McNamee-Mahafey: results (Facebook)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: propaganda, facts, figures, and words
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email and photography

Special kudos to two new virtual volunteers this week. Christina McNamee-Mahaffey helped with results, and Andrea Maas (a.k.a. Carly’s mom) joined us from Greensboro, NC for some virtual cheerleading. Also, it was Andrea’s 10th CPVp, so she earns a cute ten-timer turtle badge in our weekly results sheet.

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

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Christina and barkrunner Lucy on the Paint Branch Trail, one year ago

Barkrunners

It was a good day for the barkrunners. Actually, EVERY Saturday is a good day for the barkrunners, as they love getting moving outdoors with their humans.

We’ll just go with picture captions this time ...

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Congrats to Scruffi on his first 5K. Not bad for a 13-year old dog.

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Anna Weber stopped along her route to say hello to "my favorite neighbor"

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Barkrunner Seneca enjoying the snow in West Virginia (with Anne Baum)

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Belle and Tuffi on their run with Gloria in Rehoboth. They could be good sled dogs.

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Um, barkrunners don't fit so well on a treadmill. (h/t Teresa Perdomo)

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So now do we get to swim?

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Shackleton joined the social-but-distanced-unless-you're-a-barkrunner coffee hangout

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Eli checked out some graffiti. How do you expect us to Google that, Eli?

Looking Back

This weekend 3 years ago in 2018 was probably the coldest ever day for College Park parkrun. The northern US was in the grip of a polar vortex, and morning temps were around 5-10 degrees.

There were just 42 finishers on that day, One of our concerns on that day was to help keep volunteers warm. So we drove the CP parkrun minivan up to the start, and had volunteers take turns thawing out inside.

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Our coldest Saturday ever, January 2018

Looking Ahead

We have two thoughts this week that connect to the broader forces in the news this week.

First, on the coronavirus, it’s going to be a long time before we can come together again, notwithstanding optimistic predictions about a spring return in the UK in this week’s parkrun podcast, and suggestions about the US and Canada having promising vaccination programs.

Maryland took significant steps to speed vaccine delivery in the past week. The peak of 15,000 doses/day is almost 50% higher than the best days one week earlier. But, to put this in perspective, the state would need to be delivering 30,000 doses/day right away, in order to get the job done by the end of 2021. Or 50,000 doses/day, in order to get the job done by late summer. And that’s if the targets are reached right away, and if they are met 7 days per week (they are not).

We have a long way to go.

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Barkrunner Shackleton captures the sentiment

Second, the breakdown of society. If you’re like us you’ve probably felt frustrated and despondent at some point recently. It can seem overwhelming. And for some of us, physically threatening.

It’s far beyond the scope of our little run/walk report to tackle what ails American society. But we can point to one thing that keeps coming up in discussions of what has gone wrong: the changing media landscape. People connect differently, they communicate differently than they used to. Even before the pandemic, we regularly heard about the demise of local newspapers, the rise of nationalized and global social media, and the sorting of people into ever tighter bubbles of like-minded people.

The pandemic has made this only worse. It’s great that we can connect with family and close friends far away. But we’re less aware than ever of those around us.

One of the things that we have loved about the growth of the College Park parkrun community is how it has helped bring together people who would have never met otherwise. We’re always looking to be more inclusive. But we are happy with the progress that we have made over the past 5 years.

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We’re also very happy with the way that we have been able to keep supporting one another during the pandemic, via our new virtual community. We love that this has removed some barriers to participation. We are thrilled that the community now includes friends and family who are far away from our geographic base.

But there has also been a loss. Despite the large numbers every week, we are well aware that we’re not reaching everybody who we could serve through the in-person events. We’re less beneficial to children and teens, we’re missing some parts of the local population, we see fewer first-timers than before. And it is easy for us to recede into our communications bubbles. It’s good that we can be flexible, reaching some people via Facebook, Strava, or email. But these different channels bring greater fragmentation.

We long for when we can just talk to real humans in a park again. And we’re going to want to talk a lot.

Things will get better. We’re sure of it. And we will appreciate what we have even more for having missed it for a long while.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Elmer Hernandez checked in from Orlando, FL this week

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John Ramsey was so well wrapped we barely recognized him. ... Just kidding. Once you've done 100 parkruns, we recognize your gait.

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Street art on Cory Kind's run in Detroit

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Colin managed to run-walk the whole 5K without getting more injured this week. Win!

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Welcome back from NC, Carly!

 

Come Rain or Shine (Virtual Report 37-38)

With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday this year, we held two CP Virtual parkruns on consecutive days. So this is a report on both of them.

The last time that we held events on consecutive days was at the end of 2016. A lot has changed since then. Christmas Eve 2016 saw our smallest ever field, with just 24 joining us on a soggy morning in College Park. New Year’s Day 2017 was mild and dry and more than four times as many joined us. Big fluctuations were the norm.

Not so as we start 2021. January 1st was soggy and grey. January 2nd was glorious. You definitely noticed. But it didn’t make a whole lot of difference to how many got outside and got moving for CPVp #37 and #38. Why so? Partly because we’re not all in the same place these days, so somebody’s sure to have good weather. But mostly because at this point in the pandemic, we’re appreciating our outdoor time more than ever and are just getting out and getting it done, whatever the weather.

With close to 200 taking part both days, you shared a lot of good things with us this week. So let’s do this!

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Andrea Solan was getting it done in very different weather on Friday and Saturday 

Facts and Figures

  • 367 virtual parkrunners (187 + 180)
  • 1350 miles covered (650 + 700)
  • 36 first-timers
  • 6 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 7 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 5 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 33 barkrunners (16 + 17)
  • 12 virtual volunteers (6 + 6)

Stat(s) of the week: Just as we were putting the finishing touches on this week’s results tables, we heard from Clark Ridge, who encouraged as many family members as possible to share their activities for our New Years Virtual parkrun. A total of 17 family members joined in all, covering around 30 miles in 4 states (MD, DE, FL, UT).

Clark said: “That was fun and gave another great excuse to catch up with my siblings.” He added that there are many more Ridges out there. “I hope to encourage all 34 of us to participate somehow this year.”

So, surely Team Ridge had more participants than any other family this week? Well, on New Year’s Day it was no contest. But if we combine across the two days, it was a dead heat with Team Rosenberg, who had 8 humans and 1 barkrunner both days, for a total of 18, in five different states.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 37 (NYD)

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 38

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The Berwyn Heights division of Team Ridge. 17 virtual parkrunners on January 1st.

Happy New Year

We start with this picture from parkrun Deutschland, the folks who coordinate events throughout Germany. This week they wanted to wish everybody a happy new year. So they reached for a picture that exemplifies happiness. And chose this picture of Kim Nickens ringing the PB bell at College Park parkrun. We agree. It makes us feel happy too!

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And a bonus - more of Kim's infectious smile. In a New Year's campaign sent to millions of parkrunners in the UK.

Rain or Shine

We were treated to a beautiful Saturday in the DMV. One of those days when it feels just wrong to be stuck inside. We loved seeing your pictures and stories. But it was even more encouraging to hear from all of you who were getting out there and having fun in the less-than-perfect conditions on Friday.

We had lots of pictures of soggy parkrunners in the rain. In multiple states.

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Michael and Dinah Cohen were well equipped for the rain

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Andrea and Brian Maas found the rain in North Carolina, too

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More wet for New Year's Day in Ann Arbor, MI. Tricia and Matthew Jones were among the many Lillie parkrunners who did 10K on Friday to claim a NYD "double virtual parkrun".

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Looks like Jackie and Kayla managed to get out ahead of the downpour in DC

In South Bend, IN Megan and Ben Gieske managed to sneak out on Saturday during the brief window when the sheets of ice had melted.

Mary and Amy Hicks had a backdrop of ice on the Rock River in Rockford, IL.

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Ice on the Rock River for Mary and Amy Hicks in Rockford, IL

The winter weather was more appealing in northern Idaho, where Cindy Cohen combined treadmill running with a spot of cross-country skiing. (Yes, we have a policy on this. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing count for CPVp. But we want pictures! Or videos! Did you know that competitive snowshoe racing is A Thing? They’re fast!).

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Meanwhile, Janet Grudzien John did her CPVp heading to and from a water aerobics session. That may sound like something for people who find a Polar Bear Plunge on NYD too easy. But Janet is in Hawaii, so this sounds quite lovely thank you.

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Ok, we admit that we're just a little jealous

(Incidentally, we thought that virtual parkrunners are creative. But the Maryland Special Olympics is holding a “virtual polar bear plunge” right now, and the alternate PBPs that they show on their website are hilarious.)

Janet wasn’t the only one playing in the water. Meridith Phillips interrupted her CPVp along the beach in Nags Head, NC to watch dolphins dancing in the waves just a few yards from the shore.

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Dolphins!

Folks who headed out close to dusk on Saturday were treated to a spectacular sunset.

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Many of you made the most of the holiday long weekend to enjoy wonderful parks and trails close to home.

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#firstdayhike in Merkle Wildlife Refuge

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Külli visited Big Pool on the C&O Canal

Urban Adventures

There are cool things to see in town, too.

David Lai and Malik Al-Jame combined their CPVp with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s annual Fresh Start 5K, running along the Metropolitan Branch Trail. (Malik was excited to run his first non-solo 5K time trial since before the pandemic. David pulled him to a PB, and to our fastest CPVp of New Year’s Day.)

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Metropolitan Branch Trail for the FitDC Fresh Start 5K

Fun fact: back in 2017 when we held our first New Year’s parkrun in College Park, we started the day with the mayor’s Fresh Start 5K, which that year was held at Hain’s Point. It was fun to see how the equipment for the first event required a convoy of trucks, while our equipment for the second event fit into a few bags in the trunk of our minivan. (Not counting the cake, which was carefully guarded up front.)

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Fresh Start 5K in 2017. Andrea warms up with parkrun tourist Norm Driskell from London, ahead of the first College Park NYD parkrun

Stefano Gazzano enjoyed a run around his home town of Civitavecchia, near Rome, Italy. Normally this port town would be buzzing, but Italy has imposed tight lockdown restrictions over the holidays, so it was more of a ghost town.

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Hannah Russell took in some history for her New Year’s CPVp, enjoying a virtual tour of embassies along Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC.

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And every day is a school day for barkrunner Eli, who discovered a sign along the Trolley Trail in College Park about Reed Whittemore, a poet Laureate of the United States who made College Park his home, and who apparently was the college mentor of Garrison Keillor. We had no idea!

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College Park's literary history

Coming of Age

A special welcome this week to young Nick Gerbig, who is barely one month old, and got outside in the stroller with mom Jessica for his first CP Virtual parkrun. Kudos to Jessica for getting moving again, and thanks also for keeping the fire burning for trying to start a (post-pandemic) sister event in Anne Arundel County.

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Welcome Nick!

A little older, but also deserving of special kudos is Danny Walker, who ran the Paint Branch Trail for his CPVp on January 1st, which also happened to be his 50th birthday. Danny is a regular parkrunner and a regular volunteer. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, he would have easily earned his red 50 shirt and a purple V25 shirt by now. Danny even spent a few weeks as Hump’s stunt double during 2019, when Hump was sidelined. Danny even arranged the beard and the red truck, for authenticity.

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Happy 50th birthday, Danny!

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Milestones and More

Between Friday and Saturday we had many milestones to celebrate. (Really, we’re happy to see these when we pick through the results spreadsheets.)

FIVE people earned a cake badge for their 25th CPVp, taking us to a total of 107 25-timers: Nick Huang, Anna Weber, Dagny S., Gail S-T, Judy Mason.

Nick was part of the founding team of College Park parkrun back in 2016. It has been great that the virtual events have allowed him to join us regularly from his current home in Connecticut, often also as a volunteer.

Anna was part of a group of Roosevelt Island parkrunners who enjoyed a socially distanced stroll around the island and an outdoor coffee in Rosslyn. They’re looking to make this a first Saturday of the month thing. If you haven’t visited Roosevelt Island, it’s a great place to do your CPVp some time.

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#islandlife

Judy is an Aussie who is one of the stalwarts of Kensington parkrun. We’re delighted that she has been able to ‘join’ us regularly since the early summer.

Dagny is making a comeback after recovering from all the miles he did leading up to his fall (virtual) marathon. And Gail can be found somewhere along the local trails every Saturday morning, generally leading a posse of smiling friends from Prince George’s Running Club.

SEVEN earned 10-timer turtle badges: Diana Claros, Gifford (barkrunner), Mary Hicks, Dustyn Kujawa, Maia Swisdak, Diane Rosenberg, and Violet Ridge.

Mary is Patrick Wojahn’s aunt, and joins us regularly from Illinois. Diane is Duane Rosenberg’s sister-in-law, and joins us regularly from Iowa. Gifford gets dragged out by his human, Dan Owen, who is event-director at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun. Diana only had one opportunity to do CP parkrun before the pandemic, but we hope she’ll be able to join us in person again once that’s possible. Dustyn is no longer on the College Park City Council, but we were appreciating her and other local officials on Saturday when the “water features” on the Paint Branch Trail led many to explore the new College Park Woods connector trail to make up extra distance.

We’re really happy to see Violet and Maia do their 10th CPVps, both as part of family adventures. But honestly, Violet and Maia are from a group that we’re failing to serve well during the pandemic. Violet has done 73 parkruns, and right before the pandemic she turned 11, earning the right to run with any of her CP parkrun friends, instead of needing a parental chaperone. Maia was a regular walker/runner and volunteer and earned her 50 shirt one year ago. We loved seeing them and cheering for them most weeks on the trail. We look forward to being back in a format where we can support these young folks better than we do now.

Another SIX earned 5-timer high five badges: Rose (barkrunner), Jenna David, Andrea Solan, Sarah Puro, Marilyn Langley, Nathan (barkrunner).

Jenna and Rose are part of the big Team Rosenberg crew, who between them accounted for 18 CPVps between Friday and Saturday.

Kudos to Marilyn, Louise Godley’s mum, for keeping walking in the face of a troublesome knee and a surging virus in Chelmsford, UK. Last year Louise was back visiting for the holidays, and she was part of a field of 1,000 for the NYD edition of Chelmsford Central parkrun. Hopefully next year again. But for this year it was good that Marilyn and Louise (and Anne) could all take part virtually.

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Hopefully Louise and Anne can make it to England for the holidays next year

And over the two events we welcomed a total of THIRTY SIX first-time CP virtual parkrunners.

Tricia Jones, Lynn Boven, Matthew Jones, Sara Woodward, Robert Slack, Roscoe (barkrunner), Dinah Cohen, Michael Cohen, Charlie (barkrunner), Marie Reske Hamlin, Lucy (barkrunner), Paul Horrocks, Rajiv Kumar, Vanessa Clarke, Scott Maxwell, Susan Gunn, Joy Kind, Patrick Sheridan, Persis Thorndike, Persis' pup (barkrunner), Cooper (barkrunner), Claire Alolga, Suzanne Alolga, Curtis (w/ Janel), Grant (w/ Janel), Kelly (w/ Janel), Teri Ramsey, Roxie (barkrunner), Andrew Ahn, Judy Reynolds, Andrew Ridge, Sarah Ridge, Ben Ridge, Josh Ridge, Julianna Moyes, Jeff Moyes.

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Welcome first-time virtual parkrunner Susan Gunn!

Virtual Volunteers

We couldn’t be sharing all this if it wasn’t for the support of our virtual volunteers. Since Thanksgiving weekend we’ve now held 8 virtual events in 37 days with nearly 1500 activities submitted, reported, and illustrated. It’s fun, but it takes some keeping up with.

Thanks to this week’s crew. A shout out to Judy Barnes, who joined the results processing crew for the first time and was *great* at ensuring all names were spelled correctly, and noting possible alternate spellings that might elude Tara’s spreadsheet wizardry.

Judy Barnes: results (Facebook, Friday)
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava, x2)
Nck Huang: results (Facebook, Saturday)
Tara Mease: results czar x2
Colin Phillips: propagandist and data analyst
Anna Tinnemore: results (form, x2)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? In addition to the roles above, it can be very useful to have photo collectors and online cheerleaders. Drop us a line at collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

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Thanks to Anna for being part of the regular CPVp volunteer crew

Barkrunners

One important constituency that was extra happy about the back-to-back CPVps was our barkrunners. With 16 on Friday and 17 on Saturday, we were spoiled for choice on puppy pictures.

Sophie got to enjoy a run off leash through the woods in Lancaster, VA. (We’re curious how this picture was taken.)

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Off leash - perfect!

Eli got to visit with friends at the Discovery District Park on Saturday. He made no secret of how happy he was to see everybody.

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Pleased to meet you!

Belle, Tuffi, and Scruffi enjoyed the seabreeze in their fur in Rehoboth Beach, DE. And Tuffi also got to run the Paint Branch Trail on Friday.

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Shackleton was a little down the coast in Bethany Beach, DE, where he felt the call of the waves.

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Shackleton wanted to swim

In Michigan Cooper enjoyed a run in the snow with his parkrun friends. Cooper’s human Lynn Boven is co-Event Director at Livonia parkrun, and he was the first person in the US to earn a 250 shirt. Cooper was there for most of those runs.

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Cooper would blend right into to the snow without that green jacket

Pakora got to do a little swimming in Rock Creek. Somehow Pratyush and Megan were not persuaded to join him.

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Pakora did get to go for a swim

And we got to meet this lovely barkrunner enjoying the Paint Branch Trail, with Ada Lee and Christina Ferguson. Sorry, we didn’t catch the name, but we sure hope to meet again.

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Lizzie was out with her regular posse

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Virtual barkrun tourism is a thing. Charlie admiring the boardwalk in Lillie Park, Ann Arbor

Looking Ahead

New Years is when we like to make goals. Things that we’d like to do better, or differently in the coming year.

We generally focus on things that we can control. Like eating green vegetables or stretching more. But this is an odd year, because the change we most want is one that we have little control over. We want to be vaccinated, healthy, and living a more ‘normal’ life. We don’t want to feel guilty about meeting other humans.

We remain optimistic that we will be back to weekly in-person events this year. But as of right now we’re less optimistic that this will happen anytime soon. It wasn’t that long ago that we were wondering whether we’d reach 50 CPVps, but that’s no longer in doubt, as is our guess of a May-June return. The coming weeks will show whether the pace of vaccinations across the US picks up from its very slow start.

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Lori is on track to be among the first crop of CPVp 50-timers

Maryland’s BEST day yet saw around 10,000 shots delivered. At that rate it would take 1,000 days to deliver the like 10 million doses that will need to cover around 80% of the state population. (At that rate, the Purple Line might even be open before we’re vaccinated!)

So the first half of 2021 will likely involve a lot of remote-everything, a lot more isolation, a lot more families dealing with remote learning, a lot more struggling businesses (especially with UMD less likely to get back to normal before the fall). And there will be a lot more people getting sick and/or losing loved ones.

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Outdoor coffee at The Board and Brew. Support local businesses (and bring a blanket)

So it’s as important as ever that we keep supporting each other to be a little more active, a little less isolated.

We can do this by making it as easy and fun as possible to get moving and stay connected. All that you are sharing contributes to this. It doesn’t have to be inspiring or unusual. Simply getting outside, in whatever weather, and cracking a smile makes a difference. Offering any kind of encouragement to others makes a difference too, whether it’s through supporting a friend or family member, or offering online comments or kudos (e.g., via our Strava club). Or sharing smiles or chalk messages along the trail.

It also makes a difference when we show that it’s perfectly fine to go slow, or not very far, or to take a walk with your dog. It can be intimidating to join a group that has “-run” in the name. We wish that English had a good cover term for bipedal locomotion. We’ll celebrate with you if you meet a speed goal. But we’re just as happy if you’re a speedster who gets outside and takes your sweet time.

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Scott Maxwell wondered whether his 5K was our slowest ever. The first 1.5 miles involved walking around his front yard removing Christmas decorations. Sorry, Scott. We think that distinction belongs to 102-year old James Wilson.

Our New Year’s Resolution for 2021 is to not lose sight of all the important things we learned during the pandemic once we’re able to go back to in-person events. Including all of the great people who we have met who are far from College Park but who are now very much a part of this community.

Here are some good things that we read or listened to recently. Thanks to the parkrunners who shared them with us.

Nurtured by Nature [Sadie Dingfelder, Washington Post, 12/28/20]. How the pandemic has intensified our connection to the outdoors. [h/t Rumi Matsuyama]

Creatures of habit [Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, 12/30/19]. It’s about making things easy and fun, rather than depending on willpower. [h/t Becky Widman]

With each run, a city shaken by racism is finding the greater good [Anna Katherine Clemmons, New York Times, 12/27/20]. An inspiring story of a running club in Charlottesville, VA.[h/t Pete Monacelli]

She turned 2020 misery into a breakthrough [Lindsay Crouse, New York Times, 12/26/20]. 37-year old Sara Hall turned a rough start to the year into something special.

We have no specific special events planned for the coming weeks. But with 6 virtual parkruns in January, it’s a good opportunity to keep working towards those 25-timer or 50-timer badges.

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Janel had out of town visitors. She wanted to show them the DC highlights. So of course they started off with CP Virtual parkrun.

A parting thought

Thank you for all of your lovely emails and other messages. We’ll end this New Year’s Resolution double report with a message we received from Heather Sisan, who always shares something interesting when she emails us about her virtual parkrun.

“What a soggy day for a run! I did my usual 4.5 miles on Beach Drive today. The rain picked up while I was out and I was completely soaked by the time I got back. But here's the magic thing about running that I've learned in the past year: it makes you feel better:

if you're sad
if you need a reset after a tough week
if you have a problem you need to think through
if you're anxious
if you're cold from sitting at a computer too long
if you're looking forward to something and need to make the time pass
if you're glum about the weather
if you're trying to stay fit in a pandemic
if you're just fine at the moment but want something to boost your spirits anyway

It really does fit the bill no matter what, and I'm always glad afterward that I did it. Here's wishing health and happy trails to all in 2021!”

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Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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One of Saturday's "water features" on the Paint Branch Trail

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Malik on his second 5K of the weekend

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Jen did a Virtual Pop Tart 5K run on Saturday. That pop tart does not look virtual.

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Snow and ice around the U of Michigan campus for Emma Keer's Saturday walk

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We love these Maryland-themed gloves. You can get them at Franklin's Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville.

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New Year's baby!

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Bud was on the Paint Branch Trail Friday and Saturday mornings

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See you next Saturday

 

College Park Virtual Resolution Run/Walk

Hands up if you hope to be a little more active, and a little more connected as we leave 2020 behind and head into 2021? The College Park Resolution Run/Walk on January 1st-2nd is all about getting started on that goal.

Join us! Better yet, encourage family or friends to join, too, whether they’re part of your bubble or in far away places that you can’t visit right now.

Our virtual events are free, sustainable, and led by community volunteers. Our approach has already helped hundreds of people to keep moving and keep connected through much of 2020.

Don’t worry that you’re “not yet fit enough” to join. If you can walk around the block, then you’re ready!

Friday January 1st: New Years Resolution Run/Walk (CP Virtual parkrun #37)
Saturday January 2nd: College Park Virtual parkrun #38
… and every Saturday after that, at least until the end of the pandemic.

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A virtual run/walk. Before the pandemic, College Park parkrun would offer free, weekly 5K events on the beautiful Paint Branch Trail in College Park, MD, every Saturday at 9am. We would always start the new year with an extra event on January 1st. On 1/1/20 hundreds gathered to kick off what we all hoped would be a year to remember. We were at least partly right about that!

College Park Virtual parkrun is a new free, weekly event that keeps us moving and connected during the pandemic. This community has come together -- at safe distances, from six feet to six thousand miles -- to provide support and encouragement. Unlike other virtual events there are no fees, no swag, and no prizes. The focus is on sharing stories, pictures, kudos, and motivation.

The community-first approach of College Park Virtual parkrun has been so well received that participation is even higher than in the regular face-to-face events, with 150-200 taking part every week. Most participants are in the College Park area and the DC metro region, but more and more regulars now “join” from as far away as Wisconsin or Berlin, Germany. Some locals also join when they are traveling.

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Light at the end of the tunnel. We have many reasons to enter 2021 with optimism. But the next few months could be hard. All the more reason to support each other in staying active.

Participation is super simple.

Run or walk. Go as far as you want, as fast as you want, wherever you want, any time through 8pm. If you want to share a time for 5K (or more), that's great. It's also great if you don't want to. "I walked 2 miles with my dad," or "My dog and I jogged 5 miles in the woods" are also perfect. You definitely do not need to run. CP Virtual parkrun welcomes almost as many walkers as runners every week.

Tell us about it. We want to hear about what you got up to, maybe see pictures that you took along the way. There are many ways to do this: comment on the thread on the College Park parkrun Facebook page, fill out our online results form, email us at collegepark@parkrun.com, or join the College Park parkrun "club" on Strava and tag your run as CPVp  or similar. (Note, activities recorded as walks might not appear in the Strava club feed, so we recommend to report through another channel.)

Read about what went down. We collect activities, pictures, and stories and share them  through our social media and website. Check out our 2020 in Review story to see how we roll.

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Encourage family and friends to take part. Got relatives in another state? They can take part too. See how many family members can "join" you to start the year! Maybe send us a selfie, and we can make a family collage.

Four legged family members, too! We love our "barkrunners", and we know that their support helps us to stay active. At College Park Virtual parkrun the pups have equal rights, and we include their activities alongside the humans in our weekly results.

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Looking for a quiet and beautiful 5K route? The Paint Branch Trail in College Park is a great place for a run or walk at any time of year. The College Park parkrun 5K route is flat, pretty, and accurately marked and measured. There is no official meetup, but the trail is available at all times, it's never crowded, and if you show up at some time during the morning there's a good chance of passing friendly faces along the trail.

If you visit the Paint Branch Trail, you might also find encouraging chalk messages. Or you might pick up a stick of chalk and leave encouraging messages of your own. Or you might see some cool new signs that we placed along the trail, featuring some of our community volunteers.

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Supporting local businesses. Each week we have a social-but-distanced outdoor coffee meetup. It’s a chance to safely chat with others while helping local businesses that could use our help in these difficult times. Winter Saturdays we use the Discovery District Park behind The Hotel at UMD, which is spacious and sunlit. The backup location, in case of rain, is the outdoor patio by The Board and Brew. Bring a mask and a warm jacket. Blankets recommended.

The fine print. There's more information on College Park Virtual parkrun in our blog post from Spring 2020: Introducing College Park Virtual parkrun.

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2020 in Review (Virtual Report 36)

This week’s College Park Virtual parkrun was notable in a few ways:

  • In College Park it may have been our coldest Saturday of 2020 (we tested this scientifically by looking at the hats and gloves in our photo albums from last winter)
  • It was the final Saturday of 2020 (we thought it might never come!)
  • It was our 250th event at College Park parkrun, counting all formats (that one crept up on us)

So we’re taking a different approach to this week’s report. We’re ditching our usual Looking Ahead column and some of our other regular features in favor of some Looking Back at how we got here. What happened over the past 5 years, and what happened in 2020. Did any of our predictions or hopes for 2020 come true?

Don’t worry, we do also have some of your pictures and stories from this weekend. Scroll down for those. And you’ll find this week’s results table there, too. Don’t forget that we have TWO CPVps in the coming week. CPVp #37 is our New Year’s Resolution event on Friday 1/1. CPVp #38 is the following day.

This one is a bit long. Sorry! But you gave us a lot of good material.

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Cool swag for Shackleton this week. Check out that kerchief!

250 Events

It seems like just yesterday.

Planting a seed. At Christmas 2015 the Washington Post published a story about the impending launch of Fletcher’s Cove parkrun in Washington DC. The story somehow reached Robin Phillips in Bristol, UK, who passed it along to his brother Colin and sister-in-law Andrea Zukowski. Andrea decided pretty much right away that she wanted to start a similar event in College Park.

Andrea had started running at the beginning of 2014, at age 49. On family visits to the UK Robin had introduced her to a few parkrun events. Andrea was really taken by the low-key, community aspect, and wished that there was something similar closer to home. Seeing what was happening at Fletcher’s Cove she said, “If they can do it, so can I!”

Andrea and Colin attended the Fletcher’s Cove launch. Andrea emailed a list of friends to invite them to the Paint Branch Trail for a run on Saturday 1/16/16. About a dozen came along. Most joined for coffee afterwards at The Board and Brew.

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1/16/16 -- Pioneers

The plan was to explore different possible 5K routes. But really the Paint Branch Trail route was so good that we never tried anywhere else. Well, aside from Week 2, when Snowmageddon blocked all local trails, so a group met up to run around University Park (see Virtual Report 34).

Through most of 2016 the Saturday meetups continued at Acredale Park, as Andrea worked on the steps to turn the meetups into an official parkrun event. Prince George’s County Parks was taken aback at first when they were asked for a free permit to hold a 5K event 52 weeks of the year, but they have become wonderful partners. Getting insurance required first incorporating as a company. Raising seed funding required knocking on a lot of doors, and it created many valuable community connections. That’s why there were 33 ultra low-key events before College Park parkrun launched officially.

The proto-parkruns were very small. Average attendance was around 8, and never more than 13. One hot August day Andrea and Colin went to the park and nobody else showed up. But those events laid a lot of groundwork. They created a routine. They created the seed of a community. And they built an initial team of volunteers.

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Memorial Day Weekend 2016. 4 showed up in the rain.

Taking root. The first year of official parkrun events was all about turning a startup idea into an established part of the local community.

By the time Andrea picked up the megaphone to welcome a crowd to College Park parkrun #55 in late October 2017 that transition had happened.

There was a big crowd of over 150 … plus Testudo … thanks to teaming up with UMD’s Homecoming. By that point, anybody looking to put on an inclusive 5K event in College Park was likely to talk with Andrea first. Two years earlier it would have been inconceivable for Andrea to be a local authority on anything related to running.

On that same day Clark Ridge became the first College Park parkrunner to earn a red 50-timer shirt. By that point he was one of many regulars, of all ages and speeds. In that first year nearly a thousand people took part at least once, and more and more of them were coming back for more.

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By the time of the Homecoming event it had become easy to recruit a solid volunteer crew each week. The CP parkrun team had doubled in size. By then our regular course marshal spots were established -- on Memorial Day weekend we had surprised Hump Plotts with a delivery of a “Hump’s Crossing” sign to him, as CP mayor Patrick Wojahn and parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt sped past during the event.

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May 25th 2017. We surprised Hump with a sign.

When Andrea welcomed the crowd to CP parkrun #55 she had also been through a summer when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer, underwent surgery, and was back to walking the trail with new friends just one week later.

After 33 proto-events and 55 official events, College Park parkrun was working. And this was starting to draw attention and shift some of the local energy.

Scaling. On the same day in late 2017 when Testudo visited, we were also recruiting people to fill out surveys for a project with UMD’s School of Public Health. They were helping us to understand the ‘special sauce’ behind what was working in College Park, with the aim of replicating it and improving upon it.

The rapid establishment of College Park parkrun was notable from a public health perspective because of the strong grassroots energy, including the broad volunteer base. It was interesting from a parkrun perspective, too. The free, weekly 5Ks were a roaring success in a few countries, but no previous event had taken root so fast in North America. College Park parkrun had also been featured in a Wall St Journal article in Summer 2017.

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At the end of 2015 when we started planning College Park parkrun, there were just 4 parkrun events in the continent, and the jury was out on whether events could thrive in the US. By the October 2017 there were 24 events, and it was clearer that they could thrive, but were by no means guaranteed to do so.

In College Park parkrun we already had a welcoming community, but it was not as diverse as the surrounding community. It was whiter, faster, more middle-aged, and also more male. We wanted to know why some people were more likely to show up, or more likely to come back regularly. Over 2018-2019 we worked to make the community more diverse and more inclusive on all of those dimensions.

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Community partnerships definitely made a difference. We worked with Prince George’s County Parks to adopt the trail, and we organized trail cleanup events. We partnered with UMD on their Good Neighbor Day events. We partnered with the College Park City-University Partnership on their Trolley Trail Day. Groups like the Fit for Christ Boot Camp allowed us to reach new groups, as did partnering with the Prince George’s Running Club.

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Good Neighbor Day

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Volunteer takeover day with Prince George's Running Club

More and more people got involved, and by the end of 2019 the crowd size that had been an extreme outlier in late 2017 was now just a normal Saturday.

New US events were starting up, too, often influenced by our experience in College Park. Kensington parkrun started in March 2018, just a few miles around the Beltway, led by a group of College Park and Fletcher’s Cove regulars. Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston started the following week. This event, and the ones that started in Ann Arbor, MI and Tucson, AZ later in the year, all followed a similar startup model to College Park.

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Yoga in the Park with Prince George's County Parks

Colin and Andrea spent a lot of time in 2018 and 2019 working on how to replicate the College Park experience in other US communities, working together with a team of kindred spirits from around the country. They drew on a lot of data, from communities around the country, to understand what works. More and more other communities were thriving, though it was still anything but inevitable. A great deal had been learned about what works in US settings, and that knowledge is available should others want to use it.

By the end of 2019 Colin and Andrea had left this phase behind, and returned to a focus on the needs of the College Park parkrun community. This shift proved to be timely, given what 2020 had in store.

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We regularly hosted the girls of Seton HS XC team

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Hundreds of community members have volunteered at CP parkrun 

2020 in Review

2020 turned out to be hard in so many ways. Between the pandemic, politics, social upheaval, and environmental disasters, there was plenty to be worried about. A huge amount was lost, including by many in our community.

2020 also had bright spots. All around us we saw creativity and openness to change.

For the College Park parkrun community 2020 was very different than we had expected. Yet some things worked out the same or better than we had predicted. And we learned a huge amount along the way.

We began January with our traditional New Year’s Resolution event, teaming up with other local events to allow double parkruns. We saw a record crowd of nearly 300 in College Park, and Pam Marcus pulled off the cool trick of leading the show as run director in both Kensington and College Park.

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A unique double for Pam Marcus - Run Director at two events on January 1st

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Nearly 300 at Acredale Park on New Year's Day 2020

Pam noticed that we took a shine to the Kensington sandwich board that she lent us for NYD, so she got us one of our own. Thanks Pam!

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We take those rules seriously!

February seemed like just a normal month. We welcomed unusually large winter crowds. There were achievements to celebrate, new people to meet, and special days to mark.

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February: Violet Ridge turns 11 and earns her "parkrun liberation"

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February 22nd - Tutu Day

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Valentine's parkrun

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Welcoming new parkrunners

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Colin showed up to a work gig in Philly, and found that he was across the street from the NEW Board and Brew. Things looked so promising for our favorite local coffee shop.

Also in February, Rebecca White shared this wonderful story with us about her personal journey: Karaoke, a 5K, and the Grand Canyon. Well worth a read.

Everything changed dramatically in March. On March 7th we were starting to pay more attention to the spread of the novel coronavirus. So we made some safety-minded tweaks to our normal operations. We retired the PB bell, we encouraged elbow bumps, and we quarantined the finisher tokens. We figured: if we can control the things that we touch, then we’ve got this!

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March 7th - this is going to be easy, right?

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March 7th - Team McElhenny celebrated Mariella's 10-parkrun milestone.

Just a few days later everything shut down. We spent one morning in urgent calls among DMV parkrun teams about whether to cancel the March 14th events. This all became moot a couple of hours later when the governor closed down events across the state. A couple of hours after that the UMD campus was emptying out and College Park was turning into a ghost town.

We figured this might last for a few weeks.

Already by the next Saturday we were looking for ways to stay connected.

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Seen in The Board and Brew

Since we couldn’t come together in person, we created makeshift Hump and Lisa signs that we set up at their regular marshal spots along the trail, so that anybody could visit them any time of the week.

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Lisa is there for you 24/7

By April folks were getting restless. And creative.

One month after regular events had closed, we held a virtual coffee meetup. About 40 people showed up.

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Reconnecting

We noticed that lots of virtual running events were popping up. Most were virtualized versions of established races. These replaced the buzz of a regular event with, well, nothing. For example, CP parkrunner Jackie Hayes did the Virtual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler … wearing a mask … entirely on her front porch. Impressive! But also very isolated.

At the same time we noticed new types of events that focused on connecting people, often across long distances. These were surprisingly fun. One that impressed us was the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, which at its climax had Arlington’s Mike Wardian competing in his neighborhood against Radek Brunner, who was running on a treadmill in the Czech Republic. Another was a virtual 24-hour relay that our friends at Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston took part in. These events showed creative ways of helping people to feel less isolated.

So we started testing the waters for keeping the College Park parkrun community moving. We started encouraging folks to share stories about their Saturday morning activities on a Facebook thread. We researched what other parkrun communities around the world were doing. We did not want to stick our necks out too far. A handful of events in the UK were exploring ways of operating virtual parkruns. Melton Mowbray parkrun was one of the most interesting, and we noticed that the folks at Perrigo parkrun in Seattle started following their lead in late April. Colin joined Perrigo from afar to get a feel for what it was like to do a “virtual parkrun”.

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Fiona Sisan sharing the optimism of spring

We gathered a ‘brain trust’ of  CP parkrun volunteers for an online discussion of options, and received strong encouragement to do an experiment with College Park Virtual parkrun.

May was our first month of virtual parkrunning. At first we were nervous, in just the same way as when we started in person events. We had no idea who would “show up”, or whether the tech would work.

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May 2nd - ready to start College Park Virtual parkrun

We were surprised right away by how many people joined us -- after just 48 hours notice -- and even more so by the cool pictures and stories, by the many far flung locations, and by how well people embraced the notion that this really wasn’t a race. (More below on what helped with that.)

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We were thrilled that old friends could now join us, such as the Gieskes in South Bend, IN

We awoke on our first morning to a charming message from Steve Hendrix, currently reporting from Israel as the Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, on how he recreated the College Park experience.

“I did it right: stood around listening to myself make announcements and then set out right at 9 am (local, 2am for you), even shouted “Morning Hump!” out and back at a confused woman sitting on a bench.”

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Steve Hendrix may have been the very first CP Virtual parkrunner

We loved hearing from Rachel Unger on her increasingly impressive “parkwaddle” outings as her due date approached.

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Rachel's parkwaddle had a purpose - Vigilante coffee!

Rescuing kittens had never been a part of CP parkrun before. But this happened on the Paint Branch Trail one day in May. Twice.

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Double kitten rescue!

We noticed that we were collectively covering a lot of distance each Saturday. So we tried a virtual challenge of running and walking the distance across America by the end of May, with regular updates on our progress. We made it, and with distance to spare! On Memorial Day weekend you recruited friends and family to add to the total of 1000+ miles.

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Leg 5 of our Virtual parkrun Across America

One of our favorite stories from May was the community support for Mary Clare Schneider. Mary Clare had been attending CP parkrun for years. Sometimes in a stroller. Sometimes walking the whole way. Sometimes as a volunteer. But she couldn’t scan her own parkrun barcode like big sister Samantha, because she wasn’t yet 4 years old. Then, just as her 4th birthday was approaching, the pandemic hit.

With help from many community members, mom Erin Schneider hatched a plan. She arranged Zoom calls for parkrunners to record applause tracks. Andrea made a certificate and snuck out to do some chalking on the trail. Lisa and Hump made cameo appearances at their marshal spots. And there was cake, too. It all added up to a special day for Mary Clare.

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By the time June came around it looked like -- maybe -- we were starting to get the pandemic under control. But other crises were surging, as protests surged around the country following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Early June scene from Valerie Silensky's virtual parkrun in Hyattsville

With civil rights in the news every day, we chose civil rights history as our second virtual tour, covering three weekends in June, following a 2,300 mile journey of discovery, and learning a lot along the way.

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Paul Wester's virtual parkrun took him to Frederick Douglass Plaza on the UMD campus

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More civil rights: Anne and Louise squeezed in a virtual parkrun ahead of getting married

Week after week, we also marveled at the creativity of the routes that parkrunners were choosing, from a ski mountain in Idaho to caves in Virginia. We invited you to run or walk anywhere, and you took that to heart.

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Yes, you can do your CPVp anywhere. Luray Caverns, for example.

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Nice Strava calligraphy by Stewart Mayhew

July brought heat to the mid-Atlantic, as usual. With less ability to physically escape we fled to the hills virtually, doing a virtual Appalachian Trail tour over 3 Saturdays. A few parkrunners managed to incorporate the real AT into their CPVps.

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There's Stewart again - now on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland

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Dave and Alyssa covered the W Virginia section of the Appalachian Trail

This year was the first time that July 4th coincided with a parkrunday in College Park. The pandemic wasn’t going to stand in the way of celebrating that.

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Sharlene Deskins was ready for July 4th

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Patrick Wojahn combined his July 4th CPVp with the College Park Porchfest

Lisa Wilson showed that virtual parkruns were for anybody, anywhere. One day the age range of our participants spanned over 100 years.

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Anywhere. One day Lisa walked 5K via many laps of the Lewes - Cape May ferry

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Anybody - James Wilson, age 102, became a regular CP Virtual parkrunner

In August the reopening of The Board and Brew and preparations for a very different fall semester in College Park inspired us to make some changes.

The evidence was increasingly clear that outdoor activity was much safer than indoor activity. The folks at parkrun HQ even commissioned a scientific report on this. It was equally clear that people craved non-electronic communication. Local businesses needed our support. We also saw a risk of a community like College Park becoming more siloed as thousands of students returned to town but might see other adults mostly through Zoom windows.

We started to visit the regular CP parkrun course on Saturdays. There were no coordinated gatherings, no crowds. But those who showed up were sure to see a friendly face or two. And possibly a friendly photographer.

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Malik enjoyed running his own CPVp and then meeting up with nephew Isaiah for more

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Just act normal for the photographer. Derek and Lilly enjoying fall weather.

We started leaving messages of encouragement in chalk on the trail. And soon found that others responded. So we started leaving a box of chalk at Acredale Park and waited to see what would appear on the trail.

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Call ...

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... and response

We started weekly social-but-distanced meetups in the pocket park by the Paint Branch Stream, right behind The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee. Easy to spread out, chat with friends, and enjoy treats from local businesses.

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Plenty of space to spread out

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And delicious treats from Vigilante and The Board and Brew

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Rain? No problem. We can move inside the parking structure.

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August 22nd was Tutu Day again

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Team Rosenberg joins us regularly from around the country, including this group in Mechanicsburg, PA

By September we were feeling whiplash. There were reasons for optimism -- about the pandemic, about the state of the country, and even about the return of live parkrun events. Plus we were starting to enjoy glorious early fall weather.

But this kept being mixed with setbacks, of all kinds.

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You never know who you might meet on the trail on a Saturday morning

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This tourist attraction didn't exist at the start of 2020

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Team Kelley enjoying September weather

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One morning in September, the trail was a tribute to RBG

In College Park, the population swelled, with 20,000+ students on or around the UMD campus. The town was no longer the ghost town that it had been for much of 2020. But locals were on edge. Coronavirus case counts were climbing locally. UMD’s new president was seen standing outside student bars at night handing out face masks. Were things about to get really bad in College Park?

… No, they did not. It needs to be said really clearly that students, UMD, and city and county officials worked together really well. Students were overwhelmingly safe and considerate. And the community fared much better than many had feared.

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Outdoor meetups helped us to meet newcomers to College Park, such as new grad student Carly, who had messaged us at the start of the semester to ask about local running routes

In October the community was making the most of the fall weather for getting outside.

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We swear that we had nothing to do with this graffiti

Local trails turned out to be a popular spot for virtual marathons, half-marathons, and ten milers. It turns out that virtual events aren’t so lonely when you have friends and family to support you. They felt very different than in the spring.

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Colin's virtual London Marathon was live streamed to the BBC by his pace crew of parkrunners. He ran 8 laps of the CP parkrun course, with so much support along the trail.

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Jackie Hayes ran her first TWO marathons, virtually, on the CP parkrun course

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Stewart warming up for his (virtual) marathon debut with a virtual parkrun

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Nina and Chris McGranahan preparing for a (virtual) half marathon together

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In late October a group of parkrunners made a field trip to PG Parks' Jug Bay 10k. Instead of a live event, the parks department set up a course for use at any time during October.

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 Mayor Patrick Wojahn recovered from his virtual Marine Corps Marathon by dressing up as a clown for virtual Halloween

Other things were happening in the world, and they could be combined with CPVp.

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Anne L'Ecuyer at the turnaround point on her CPVp on October 17th

On October 17th we celebrated our 4th birthday. With the help of socially distanced cupcakes.

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Throughout the pandemic, the Sisan family has updated a trivia board in their front yard in Kensington, MD each day. On October 17th it featured our birthday.

While some were going long or slow, others were going very fast. A masked pace crew came out to help Katie Hirsche lower the female course record for the CP parkrun course. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Katie would have been enjoying a very successful high school XC season. She has been a stalwart volunteer for CP Virtual parkrun. Clark Ridge’s pacing effort was all the more impressive, as he had been enjoying a sleepless October looking after newborn son Milo.

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Katie and her masked guard en route to a course record (the first of two!)

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Andres brought friends to the trail. And his mom. Perfect!

Halloween did not disappoint. Among the more surprising things that we heard this year, in a year of many, many surprises, was when we arrived at Acredale Park to be told, “There’s a kangaroo at the turnaround spot”. Tiffany Englander was marshaling for a group that was doing a 5K time trial. So why not dress in a kangaroo onesie!

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"There's a kangaroo at the turnaround."

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Thanksgiving - Paul Wester's family celebrates his streak of running 365 days in a row

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Thanksgiving - sisters Carly and Erin running the National Mall together

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Thanksgiving 2020 - Mike and Bonnie McClellan have now completed more CP parkrun 5Ks than their combined age (163)

November started with a spectacular Saturday as a crew of parkrunners worked on trail maintenance as part of UMD’s Good Neighbor Day. On November 7th there was a festive atmosphere all around, and many people had a little extra spring in their step during their virtual parkrun.

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Beautiful weather for Good Neighbor Day 2020

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Everybody had an extra spring in their step on November 7th

On Thanksgiving weekend we challenged families to do our virtual Turkey Trot, even if they couldn’t come together in person. And they did. The Ridge family brought out as many as 18 on a day when we saw the biggest CPVp crowd yet, with 250 participants, checking in from around the world.

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Thanksgiving - Team Ridge turned out 18 parkrunners, and a banana creme pie

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Thanksgiving - Team Hernandez was out in force

On Thanksgiving Saturday we found a mysterious greeting from Fletcher’s Cove parkrun on the trail, and later found that it was left by Sol and Terri Snedeker as they completed all five DC parkrun courses in one day.

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Some runs had a much smaller footprint. Occasionally we would hear from folks who had found a way to get in their virtual parkrun despite being confined indoors, whether due to quarantine, weather, or work. Some were treadmill parkruns. No big surprise there. Others were more inventive. Such as when Frank Snyder, quarantined in a retirement home, measured the distance from his piano to his bed, and proceeded to run a 98-lap out and back course in his apartment. Frank is yet to miss a CPVp.

By December the cooler temperatures brought weather that was better for keeping moving than for standing still.

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The weather also tested the fortitude of our social-but-distant meetup crew, as the pleasant shade next to the Paint Branch stream turned into a freezing wind tunnel. But we weren’t willing to go into hibernation. Nor did we want to abandon the local businesses who desperately need our help, especially with the re-closing of indoor dining and the thinning of the student population. So we moved to a winter spot in the Discovery District Park, directly behind The Hotel at UMD, next to The Hall CP. It’s a spot with ample seating, good distancing options, good parking, and no shade. Which is exactly what works at this time of year.

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The Discovery District Park is just the ticket for our winter social-but-distanced coffee meetups. Plenty of space and sunshine.

2020 in Numbers

This year’s numbers are both surprising and strangely predictable.

  • 47 events (11 “classic”, 36 virtual)
  • 1,000 individuals completed 7,630 runs or walks
  • 50,000 km covered
  • Around 75 people volunteered 400+ times.

The surprising part is that participation in our events actually grew during the pandemic. This is crazy. We explored some of the reasons for this in Virtual Report 34.

The predictable part is that participation was almost exactly what our projections suggested at the start of the year, simply based on following year-to-year trends at College Park parkrun.

With the shift to virtual events, 2020 was a mixed story in terms of diversity goals.

Speed diversity is dramatically better than before. Nowadays around 50% of participants either complete a 5K in over 40 minutes or choose not to share a time. Walkers fit right in at CP Virtual parkrun. In fact, they’re more likely to be the folks sharing the cool stories.

Gender diversity is also improved. It used to be that more women than men would register for CP parkrun, but more men would show up every week. That’s because men were slightly more likely to come regularly. That’s no longer true. Regular participants are almost exactly evenly split between men and women, and in a typical week we hear from more women than men.

Other kinds of diversity have lagged a bit. Right now the community is probably less diverse in terms of racial or socioeconomic background. We hear from fewer people whose primary language is not English. We see fewer young people aged 10-25. These are not surprising, given how we connect these days. But they will need attention in 2021.

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November saw the opening of the new College Park Woods Connector Trail 

What Worked?

Our focus for CP Virtual parkrun has been squarely on social support and inclusion. These are all the more important in a time of social isolation. We took a few steps. Some proved more sustainable than others.

Some people want to cover 5K or more, some don’t. Some want to compare their times to others, some don’t. Some want to test their own fitness. Others are happiest to get outside with a friend or family member. Some want a routine. Others appreciate the flexibility to fit around the rest of life. Giving people freedom in how far, how fast, where and when to get active has been a real hit.

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Joan Heffernan was one of the virtual parkrunners who was able to join us every week, despite being in Connecticut. She blew through her goal of running a full 5K by the time she turned 70 in December. She has never missed a CPVp. Her daughter got her this CPVp shirt as a 70th birthday gift.

Reaching people via multiple channels has been a success. We knew that social media like Facebook work for only one segment of the community. The growth of our Strava community surprised us. The College Park parkrun “club” on Strava now has 350 members. Lots of parkrunners support each other’s activity through the week via the app. Some people like to email us every week to tell us what they have been up to. Others prefer to use our online form. Many people stay up to date via Andrea’s weekly email. Others don’t realize that those emails exist (sign up, it’s worth it) Some are just happy to say "Hi!" along the trail on a Saturday morning.

Live online gatherings were more of a mixed bag. From May to July we held 9am pre-event briefings and/or virtual coffee meetups on Saturdays. They were good for a while, but were harder to sustain. Our friends at Melton Mowbray parkrun approach their weekly live briefings in a different way, with a different surprise guest each week. They have been quite successful. In fact, Colin got to be their guest briefer one weekend. On Halloween he gave a parkrun briefing in the dark, from his back patio, via Facebook Live.

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5am on Halloween: Possibly the first ever parkrun briefing given in the dark. 

Live human interaction, within what is safely possible nowadays, has made a big difference for many people. Early in the pandemic we made a point of avoiding the Paint Branch Trail on Saturday mornings, to discourage 9am gatherings. But in recent months it has worked well for people to just show up at a time of their choosing. Trail flybys, chalk messages, distanced chats in the park or over outdoor coffee all can do things that electronic communication struggles to match.

An unqualified success has been the elevation of barkrunners in our virtual parkruns. Our four-legged family members have been an important part of what has kept us sane and active this year.

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Pakora is one of our regular virtual barkrunners

Most of all, what has worked well in 2020 is that there is so much more grassroots sharing and storytelling than in the past. That is what has sustained the community.

Behind the Scenes

College Park parkrun has always been a 100% volunteer operation. But volunteering has taken on a different role in 2020. Instead of people in bright yellow vests in the park, the “virtual volunteers” are mostly hidden from view. But they are as important as ever.

Many people have rotated through our weekly results processing roles over the course of the year. But we need to give special recognition to the team that has been helping out almost every week.

Tara Mease built and maintains the back end that allows us to keep track of who has done what. It is hard to keep track when people are checking in via many different channels. But Tara has made it so much easier to manage. Anna Tinnemore has added key components to that. Katie Hirsche has become our Strava guru, and also became our top Strava cheerleader.

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Tara and Xander found themselves on the trail

Hannah Russell has helped to keep the weekly reports on time and interesting with her writing and background research, supporting Colin’s Saturday night scribblings. The weekly reports have played a much bigger role in 2020 than in previous years, as they’re the main way that people learn what happened, in a place that (almost) everybody can reach. Since the start of the pandemic they amount to around 100,000 words and 1,000 photos shared. In addition to her email efforts, Andrea Zukowski is the Pete Souza of College Park Virtual parkrun, with her photography helping us to feel a little more connected. And if you’re enjoying the parkrun volunteers whose images cheer you along the Paint Branch Trail this winter, then you have Zoe Phillips to thank for the artwork.

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If you're on the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday you'll likely see Andrea (and camera)

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Lori loved meeting her sign on the trail

Ok, so what happened in CPVp #36

We thought you’d never ask!

We’ll keep it brief, though. You’re probably most of the way through your coffee at this point. In CPVp #36, we had:

  • 146 participants
  • 615 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 6 milestone badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 6 virtual volunteers

THIS WEEK"S RESULTS TABLE IS HERE

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It was cold. Probably the coldest Saturday of the year, with temps in the mid 20s at 9am. There were cool ice formations all along the Paint Branch Trail.

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There were a couple of icy patches, too, that needed extra caution.

A few extra people did their CPVp on a treadmill this week. Understandable.

The cold wasn’t going to stand in the way of our social-but-distanced meetup at the Discovery District Park. This week’s big breakthrough: bring blankets! This could be the innovation that gets us through the winter.

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Don't leave your blanket at home!

Thanks to everyone who is continuing to support our local businesses. Neha Joshi chose some excellent seasonal fueling for her virtual parkwalk with the family, taking along an eggnog latte to keep warm.

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Some of you were appreciating the gifts that Santa (or your spouse) had brought you, to keep moving through the winter. Two thumbs up for those of you who received new nighttime gear.

Some of you were channeling Santa.

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Many enjoyed getting out for a post-Christmas jaunt together.

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Team Maas in Greensboro, NC

For Mary Hicks it was also a birthday celebration walk, joined in Rockford, IL by her daughter Amy (mayor Patrick’s cousin).

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Happy Birthday Mary (and welcome, Amy!)

This week’s virtual parkrun milestone honor roll:

25-timers: Evan Hirsche, Hannah Russell, Heather Sisan
10-timer: Megan Newcombe
5-timers: Mark Shroder, Michelle Phillips

This week's volunteer crew consisted of the regular team (see above) plus Nick Huang on results, checking in from Simsbury, CT. Thanks, Nick!

Possibly the happiest campers of all this week were the barkrunners, who didn’t seem to mind the cold, and who ALWAYS enjoy the company.

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First-time barkrunner Rigby

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Pakora's first 5K ... in Shenandoah National Park

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Belle and Tuffi were parkrunning in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Maybe they were hoping to run into Dr Jill Biden to recruit her to CPVp.

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This week Eli was learning about the early history of Salisbury, MD

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Surprise visitors - Foxy, Sam, and Eden stopped by our coffee meetup. Wonderful!

Thanks to everybody who got moving outside this chilly December 26th. Next year December 25th will be on a Saturday. Maybe by then we’ll all be vaccinated and we can come together for a Christmas morning run or walk in College Park.

See you all in 2021 -- remember that we have TWO CPVps on January 1st-2nd.

Your CPVp team

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Thanks for a year like no other, everybody

 

Baby it’s cold outside! (Virtual Report 35)

“Cold today! I don’t usually run below 40 degrees, but I’m trying to keep up with the virtual parkrun crowd! You are motivating!”

Mary Anderson captures this week’s vibe perfectly. The cold was a bit daunting, and the blankets (or the warm car) were pretty hard to leave. But you were motivated to get outside. And we heard from so many of you that it felt great once you got moving.

That’s how it’s going to be, folks. For the next 10-12 weeks the name of the game is keeping warm, keeping moving, keeping safe, and keeping our spirits up.

So, without further ado, let’s see what everybody got up to this week at College Park Virtual parkrun #35.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Janel celebrated her birthday (Friday) with a pandemic-PB. Those Beforetimes runs are just a distant memory.

Facts and Figures

  • 151 virtual parkrunners
  • 645 miles covered
  • 1 first-timer
  • 7 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 0 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned (!)
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 8 barkrunners
  • 7 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: After just 7.5 months the combined distance of your runs and walks totals 25,300 miles, that’s more than the circumference of the Earth.

In the old style CP parkruns it took us 97 events to circle the globe, and then another 63 events to do it a second time. During the pandemic we have done it in just 35 events. That’s partly because there are more of us taking part each week, and partly because we are recording whatever distance you cover each Saturday, which is an average of 6.9 km per activity.

THIS WEEK’S RESULTS TABLE IS HERE

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Elmer is always happy to see friends along the trail

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

So you wanted a White Christmas? Well, we came close. It was definitely cold outside in College Park, with snow and ice on the bridges. Marylanders to the north or west of College Park were more likely to have actual snow after the big midweek storm. Folks further north or west had a lot more snow.

Cindy Cohen is still virtually parkrunning in the mountains of northern Idaho. But instead of careening down steep downhill routes, this week she was snowshoeing in a winter wonderland.

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College Park Virtual snowshoe in Idaho

In Connecticut, Joan Heffernan reported morning temps in the single digits. Not that this was going to stand in the way of her completing her 35th CPVp.

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Joan celebrated her new age category with a coooold run

Jen Matis was apprehensive about getting up on such a chilly morning, but once she hit the trails she found that it was perfect running weather.

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Jen declared the weather perfect for running ... once you warmed up

Snow talk

Heather Sisan was appreciating the snowy woods along her route in Kensington, and that got her thinking about words for snow, inspired by a claim in a BBC story that Scots have 421 words for snow. Knowing that we have a few language nerds on the CPVp team (an understatement!), she asked for our thoughts.

… Well, it’s a bit of a contentious point among linguists. The proliferation of snow terms has long captured public imagination. You can find rankings of the languages with the most snow terms. Linguists often bristle at the exoticization of people who live in different environments, and also like to point out that it’s not so easy to say what counts as a “different word” in some languages. We recommend a fun essay on this topic: The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax (by linguist Geoff Pullum). And the Wikipedia article on Eskimo words for snow.

For most of us English speakers, we have few words for the icy precipitation that fall to the ground in winter: snow, sleet, freezing rain, and so on. Other languages sometimes make finer distinctions. One example is Éljagangur (Icelandic for intermittent snowstorms) that parkrun report assistant writer Hannah experienced when visiting Reykjavik in late 2015. She and a friend had hoped to drive the Golden Circle and then see the Northern Lights, but instead found themselves on a bus tour concerned about how the driver knew where to go when the only thing they could see out of the front windshield was a field of white. Luckily the snow slowed when they got to the tour destinations and they were able to see Þingvellir, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir, the geyser after which all other geysers are named.

Of course, for those of us in the Washington DC area the only term needed in a typical winter is the “wintry mix” that causes 2-hour school delays. At least, in non pandemic times it did.

Thanks for the prompt, Heather!

Blue Christmas

This year’s holidays are not at all normal. Much less travel, much less gathering (thank you!). But there was circumstantial evidence of the season all around.

Team Schneider again set out after dark to check out the local holiday decorations. It looks like they found some!

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Elves on a shelf

Stewart Mayhew was sporting a running-themed holiday sweater.

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Emma Keer’s Hanukkah sweater is rumored to include jingle bells. Classy! Anyway, big congratulations to CPVp regular Emma on graduating from the U of Michigan this week … in addition to being the creative genius behind Ann Arbor’s virtual parkrun (see below for news about their special Solstice event), as well as the mastermind of the parkrun USA Instagram account -- it’s worth following!

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Congrats to new grad Emma

Carly Maas headed home for the holidays to Greensboro, NC, as did her brother Daniel. So this week they got to run their CPVp together, and mom, dad, and barkrunner Shannon got in on the fun, too.

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Carly and her brother Daniel were both back home after a strange semester

Ellen Oberholtzer and barkrunner Eli visited a Yule Goat in their neighborhood. “But what is a Yule Goat?” we hear you ask. Good question!

A Scandinavian tradition that may have been inspired by Thor’s chariot-pulling goats Tanngrisnir (“Gap-tooth”) and Tanngnjóstr (“Tooth-grinder”), the Yule Goat is today mostly celebrated by people placing small straw goats in their tree or hiding them in the houses of friends during the holidays. Along with giving his goat companions rather rude names, Thor also slaughtered and ate them at night, with the understanding that they would be reborn the next morning. It was pagan tradition to re-enact this ritual with a human clothed in goat skins- although the human was only “symbolically” killed and allowed to return to life with the sunrise. Christians did not appreciate the tradition, declaring the Yule Goat a demon. Over the years the Goat became a more benevolent being and today towns in Scandinavia build large straw goats each year. The largest of these is in Gävle, Sweden, where stories of the annual shenanigans surrounding the goat usually fall under the category of “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

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Eli with the Yule Goat

Meanwhile, somebody else who is home for the holidays is Tomas Marambio, who ran this week’s fastest CPVp time of 19:47 … in Santiago, Chile, where it’s probably a little warmer than in College Park.

Tomas was just a few seconds ahead of Katie Hirsche, who did her CPVp as part of a 4.2 mile time trial on Beach Drive as part of the RunWashington DMV Distance Derby, a virtual competition for the pandemic in which runners compete on local Strava segments.

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Katie speeding down Beach Drive

Santa was out and about this weekend; he was spotted by Rach and John Cousen on their run around the village of Asfordby, UK. We looked up the Strava trace of their route, and couldn’t help noticing that the next village over is called Frisby on the Wreake. Where do the Brits come up with these names! It turns out that the name is unrelated to disc-throwing. It comes from old Germanic, from times when Vikings settled the eastern part of England, creating lots of place names ending in -by. It means Frisian settlement on the winding river. And of course it shouldn’t be confused with another town called Frisby, 8 miles away near Billesdon. You’re welcome!

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We're not sure if this Santa, seen by Shane Sharkey in Melton Mowbray, is the same one seen by Rach and John Cousen in the nearby village of Asfordby

Milestones and More

This week there were zero first-timers at CPVp. Not so surprising, given the cold.

But we did have a first-time visitor to the Paint Branch Trail. Derek Symer knows the trail like the back of his hand. His daughter Lilly is an increasingly seasoned campaigner. (We’re looking forward to seeing her earn a parkrun 10 shirt once that’s a thing again.) This week they persuaded mom to come check out the trail with them. Welcome Allison Aubrey!

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Looking good, Lilly!

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Welcome Allison!

This week we awarded SEVEN new High Five badges for 5-timers: Kristin Poinar, Elizabeth Sheridan, Rach and John Cousen, Brian Maas, barkrunner Shannon, Amanda Photenhauer.

This week’s 5-timers stand out for being all from our community of distributed College Park parkrunners. Kristen Poinar was local for a while and would run with us on Saturdays, but nowadays she’s a professor in Buffalo, NY. Check out her TED Talk about what’s hidden below the Greenland Ice Sheet (4.5 million views!!!!). Elizabeth Sheridan is a Roosevelt Island parkrunner who is the most seasoned US parkrun tourist. Rach and John Cousen are regulars at our virtual sister event, Melton Mowbray parkrun. Brian Maas and barkrunner Shannon are part of Team Maas, who joined us via Carly Maas. And Amanda is part of the Lillie parkrun, Ann Arbor community, who often gets to enjoy her Saturday mornings with Emma Keer (see picture above for proof!).

We had no new 10-timers this week. Hard to believe!

We had THREE new 25-timers: Joanne Smith, Michael Phipps, and Cory Kind.

Joanne is a local runner, Prince George’s Running Club regular, and mom of barkrunner Lizzie. Joanne is yet to join us for one of our old-style events, but we’re looking forward to welcoming her (and Lizzie, of course) when we’re able to do that again.

Michael is a regular at Mansfield, OH parkrun, where he was close to earning a 50 shirt before the pandemic struck. Let’s hope that he can reach that well-deserved milestone in 2021. Mansfield, OH parkrun is a truly wonderful community event. It was the next US parkrun event to start after College Park, in January 2017. They have built a wonderful community in a small town in north central Ohio, especially welcoming to walkers and beginning runners. It is a model of grassroots public health efforts, and it has inspired other events in Ohio, in Canton and Cleveland.

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Michael is the 99th CPVper to earn a 25-timer badge

Cory was a regular at Roosevelt Island parkrun in DC before the pandemic. She is probably the only person to have ever run to College Park parkrun from another state, visiting us from Arlington, VA on foot one week. Nowadays she (and her husband and her barkrunner) are based in Detroit, MI. We love hearing from them most Saturdays.

In honor of our having run the circumference of the earth, Josh Weiss ran a circle-centric distance this week. Josh: “Since it was around the world day I made my workout in an equation. Workout was 2PiR with R=2km hard and Pi km recovery 2x. Then added 2.25km as a Warmup and Cooldown to make the total distance PiR^2.” That’s 12.57 km. Apologies for the geometry class flashbacks!

Virtual Volunteers

We are grateful to our virtual volunteers, who consist of a small core of regulars who keep things humming along almost every week, and a rotating cast of folks who pitch in for one week at a time. This week’s crew:

Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Ellen Oberholtzer: results and cheerleading (Facebook)
Colin Phillips: propagandist and data analyst
Hannah Russell: report researcher
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? We’ll have 3 events in the space of 8 days from Dec 26th 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 collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

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Back on the injured list. Colin had to walk most of the route this week -- more time to enjoy saying hello to friends that he passed along the trail.

Barkrunners

It was a quieter week for the barkrunners this week. It’s probably related to the cold, but maybe the humans were more reluctant than the pups.

Shackleton loved his run on the snow in his dashing Christmas sweater.

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We love Shackleton's sweater. He loves running on the snow.

Eli was off exploring, as ever. In addition to the Yule Goat (see above), he stopped by to visit friends at the CPVp coffee meetup at the Discovery District Park.

Pakora went for a walk with Pratyush and Megan, and was thrilled to make a new friend at the College Park dog park. Oh to be a creature that isn’t susceptible to COVID-19!

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Pakora made a new friend

Looking Ahead

There’s an interesting piece by Timothy Egan in the NYTimes this weekend: The next 3 months are going to be pure hell. Ok, so the title is a little bit scary. Egan compares the coming winter to the winter of 1805-6 for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They had completed their epic journey of discovery across the US and reached the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. But before they could make the journey back east they had to hunker down through a dark wet Oregon winter, with no guarantee that they or their crew would survive.

We’re in a similar position as a nation at the end of 2020. With two vaccines now approved, and many other causes for optimism in the Washington DC region, we can look forward to a better 2021. But it’s going to be a little while before that actually happens. It will be months before enough people are vaccinated to seriously slow the spread of the virus. Many will continue to get sick or worse. Many more will continue to struggle with isolation.

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Free outdoor concert in College Park Woods on Meridith Phillips' CPVp. Things like this are going to help us through the next couple of months.

For many of our local businesses the winter is going to be even harder. Restaurants and cafes are not only closed to indoor dining at a time when outdoor dining is less popular. The local population normally thins in December-January in between semesters, but it has thinned even further this year due to the pandemic.

So, if you get a chance, do consider ordering out from a local eatery that you’d like to see thriving after the pandemic. And order through their in-house service rather than the big commercial apps that charge big fees. Here are the places that we have depended on for CP parkrun coffee over the past 5 years.

The Board and Brew has been our mainstay for much of the past 5 years. They take pickup orders and they have a number of COVID specials for 2 or 4 people that include a bonus game rental - call them on 240-542-4613 to order.

Vigilante Coffee has been a supporter of CP parkrun for a few years, regularly contributing gift cards for our volunteers. They have been very popular for our pandemic picnics. Their College Park location is open for pickup for drinks or snacks.

The Hall CP is adjacent to our current winter-friendly(-ish) meetup spot at the Discovery District Park They are open only afternoons/evenings in the coming weeks, but they have online ordering, and they have heaters on their outdoor patio.

The Bagel Place is a College Park institution that has been around for 30+ years. They are struggling to keep their team afloat right now, and started a GoFundMe that is approaching half of its target with an amazing 800 contributors so far.

Bagels ‘n Grinds is located close to the Discovery District Park, in The Hotel at UMD. We loved sitting by their fireplace after our Thanksgiving CP parkrun last year, and look forward to being able to do that again when indoor cafes are A Thing once more.

It’s going to be a hard few months for so many people, businesses, and organizations that are just trying to survive right now.

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Seen along Robin Phillips' run in Bristol, UK. A city-wide advent calendar, with new seasonal song lyrics appearing on streets or on buildings every day.

Fortunately, one thing that is not struggling to survive is our CPVp community. This far into the pandemic, we are not worried about making it through the next few months. We’re not expecting much change in how we operate before next summer. So we’re going to do our best to have fun and stay active in the meantime.

With that in mind, here are the virtual parkrunning opportunities for the holiday season. Note the extra dates.

Monday December 21st. Our friends at Lillie parkrun, Ann Arbor are holding an extra virtual parkrun to mark the winter solstice, which somehow seems extra meaningful in 2020. Nothing special going on for CPVp, but head on over to their Facebook page if you’d like to join their community on the darkest day of the year.

Friday December 25th. Our friends at Melton Mowbray parkrun in the UK -- they have kind of become our pandemic pals -- are holding a Christmas Day virtual parkrun. It’s standard in the UK for events to hold an extra parkrun on Dec 25th. This is their equivalent of our Thanksgiving special event. The action takes place on their Facebook page. Note that in order to report your activity by 8pm UK time you need to report by 3pm US Eastern.

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More from the Bristol city-wide advent calendar

December 26th: Meanwhile, back in College Park we’ll be holding CPVp #36 on Saturday 12/26, “Boxing Day”. It is still very much appropriate to wear Santa hats, ugly sweaters, elf suits, or whatever else takes your fancy.

On Dec 26th we will also be marking a milestone of sorts for this community, as it will be our 250th event in College Park, completing 5 years of meeting up every Saturday on the Paint Branch Trail. This includes the 33 meetups that we held before the official launch under the parkrun umbrella, the 181 regular CP parkrun events, and 36 pandemic events. We’re looking forward to sharing some of our favorite memories from the past 5 years, and we’re looking forward to hearing about your favorite memories.

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. Also, January 2nd is a Saturday. So we’ll have consecutive CPVp days, to give you an extra opportunity to work towards 50 CPVps. As we did at Thanksgiving, we’ll compile separate sets of results for the two days, but a single super-sized report.

So we have much to look forward to in the next 2 weeks, even if the holidays are far from normal in 2020.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Barkrunner Nathan sends his regards from Civitavecchia, Italy to his friends in College Park

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David and Malik ended up running an unplanned half marathon around District Heights

 

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John M and John M enjoying the Paint Branch Trail

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Gloria first got in a run with Tuffi, then went for a walk with Scruffi

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Arctic Foxy in Canton, OH

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Ich bin ein Berliner (Virtual Report 34)

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.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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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!

THIS WEEK’S RESULTS TABLE IS HERE

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When you run into a familiar face along the trail

Fog

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.

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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!

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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.

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1/23/16 - the Snowzilla run. Participants: 8

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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”).

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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.

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Two more Berliners. When do we get to visit again?

#2020Goals

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.)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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The Discovery District Park. This spot could grow on us.

Venues

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.

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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!]

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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!

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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.

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Rebecca, Joe, and Olivia (barkrunner) White, went for a photography walk in College Park.

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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.

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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.

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Welcome Laura!

Abby and Theresa were part of a happy band of Prince George’s Running Club members who were enjoying the trails on Saturday morning.

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Robin was navigating the beach with foggy glasses in Ocean Pines, MD.

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And Joan was putting down a speedy 5K on the CP parkrun course.

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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.

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What's even better than meeting a mechanical Santa along your route?

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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.

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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.

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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 ...

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Debbie Longley is a hard act to follow

Virtual Volunteers

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 collegepark@parkrun.com if you can help.

Barkrunners

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.

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First-timer Nemo took Hump for a walk along the trail. Nemo has little legs, so it probably felt like longer.

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Tuffi and Scruffi were in the mood for a bit of bird watching.

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Eli was soaking up the attention from his fans at the Discovery District Park.

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Roo was posing for atmospheric shots in the cool lighting.

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Looking Ahead

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Can't argue with that

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Anne's new kicks are pretty spectacular

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... maybe ideal for dusk run/walks with Louise

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Jenny Kent captured this rainbow on her virtual parkrun in Melton Mowbray

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We're cheering for you all the way

 

Glass Half Full (Virtual Report 33)

“We got our feet wet at Tornado Alley, turned around at the small pond around the bend, went back the other direction, misjudged the distance, and ended up with a nice long walk on a beautiful morning!”

Anna Tinnemore’s summary of her walk with Bonnie and Mike McClellan pretty much captures the mood of CP Virtual parkrun #33.

Our favorite trail was flooded, leading to some cold, wet feet. A chilly wind had us reaching for hats, coats, and blankets. Some were dealing with ice and early winter storms. And the past 2 days saw as many new COVID-19 cases in Maryland as we would see in a typical 2-week period in late summer and early fall. Not so great.

But we basically never hear, “I wish I hadn’t gone out for a walk/run today,” whatever the weather. You only regret it if it gets you injured. And so many people were out there embracing the elements, finding the positives in the things or the people they saw. It was a glass half full kind of day.

And we have plenty else related to hydration in this week’s report. So read on and see what happened at CPVp #33.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Wet feet? No problem. Returning from injury, and looking forward to donuts - perfect!

Facts and Figures

Back to more manageable numbers this week, after last week’s Thanksgiving double.

  • 175 virtual parkrunners
  • 700 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 2 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 1 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 6 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 11 barkrunners
  • 8 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: With 33 CP Virtual parkruns under our belts, we have now held the same number of events during the pandemic as we held back in 2016 when we were getting this community started.

As we worked through the various logistical steps needed to make College Park parkrun an approved, insured, and supported event we gathered every Saturday at 9am for a super low-key 5-ish run. Average weekly attendance: 8.

We’ll have more to say in the coming weeks about those earliest days, as we’ll have some milestones to celebrate. But suffice to say that those early experiences helped to prepare us for keeping things going during this pandemic.

THIS WEEK’S RESULTS TABLE IS HERE

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in honor of our 33rd CP Virtual parkrun ... and Lori's favorite Orioles player, we think

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May 2016, one of our 33 proto-parkruns, with an unusually large turnout of 10

Glass Half Full

Heavy rains fell overnight in College Park, but cleared up by dawn, leaving flooding in predictable places on the Paint Branch Trail.

Some chose to splash through the Rather Large Puddles.

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This was the smaller and shallower "water features" on the Paint Branch Trail

Many others took advantage of the new connector trail to the College Park Woods neighborhood. This week confirmed our suspicion that the new trail has excellent drainage. We look forward to using it in the future on days when the main Paint Branch Trail is inaccessible due to flooding or snow.

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No problem. Try the new College Park Woods Connector Trail instead!

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The new trail is in great shape, and well drained

We love the many improvements that have been made to our trails in the past year. We’d also love to see a couple of fixes that would remedy these frequent flooding spots.

Meridith Phillips was also enjoying her CPVp with a lot of water for company. Meridith has decamped to Nags Head, NC for a while, where she has the windswept beaches to herself.

Cindy Cohen is navigating icy roads in Idaho.

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Cindy Cohen encountered another kind of precipitation in Idaho

And Joan Heffernan was dodging an early season nor’easter in Connecticut.

Stefano Gazzano continued his Etruscan tour, this time visiting the old town of Tarquinia. Legend has it the town was founded towards the end of the Bronze Age and became part of the Roman Empire in 204 BCE. It boasts a UNESCO-listed necropolis, and the best Etruscan museum outside of Rome (according to Lonely Planet). Stefano sent us some lovely pictures, including this one of Porta Castello (Castle Gate).

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More Water Fun

Many of our running routes in the DC area follow the creeks that drain into the Potomac- CP parkrun’s Paint Branch flows into the Anacostia before joining the Potomac, and Roosevelt Island is right in the middle of the Potomac. Those creeks were raging torrents after the heavy rains. While runners were getting in their virtual parkruns along Rock Creek, kayakers were enjoying a little white water. Known for its winding route and fast-flowing waters, Rock Creek is a favorite for those looking for a bit more adventure. This weekend certainly delivered on that!

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This was normally quiet Rock Creek on Saturday morning, as captured by Evan Hirsche

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Some of you enjoy the puddles even more than others

And keeping on the theme of water, barkrunner Eli continued our education on local sights by checking out the mural dedicated to the Edmonston “Archimedes screw”. The first one used on the East Coast of the US, Edmonston’s Archimedes Screw was installed after a series of floods between 2003-2006. The ancient technology developed by Archimedes carries water up from low lying areas, allowing Edmonston to move water from the NE branch of the Anacostia into a reservoir as part of its levy system. The NE branch levy system is being raised as a result of increased flooding due to climate change, but the Archimedes Screws are still holding strong!

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Eli keeps on educating us!

Some surprises

As happens in many weeks, co-event director Andrea left a chalk message and a box of chalk at the start line in Acredale Park and then set off with her camera in search of parkrunners and nature. She was surprised to find a new chalk message when she returned, pointing to a package left by the trail. What could it be?

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Somebody must know where to find Andrea on a Saturday morning.

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Perfect! A pandemic's supply of sidewalk chalk. (Thanks Lisa!)

Andrea isn’t the only CPVp regular with a birthday this week. John Ramsey turns 60 and enters a new age group on Tuesday. Congratulations, John!

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New age category coming up for John Ramsey

Speaking of birthdays, we had an actual birth to celebrate this week. CP parkrun regular and member of the Anne Arundel parkrun development crew Jessica Gerbig gave birth to a son this week. Welcome to the world Nicholas, and congratulations to the whole family! This includes congratulations to Gus Campbell on a new grandchild and to Brian and Jen Murphy on a new nephew. Fabulous!

For a different kind of surprise, tune into the Washington Post’s "Post Reports" podcast for Tuesday December 1st (“Why was Iran’s top nuclear scientist killed?”). We were pleasantly surprised to hear a feature interview with CP parkrun regular Steve Hendrix, who is currently WaPo Jerusalem bureau chief.

Milestones and More

This week two people earned a HIGH FIVE badge for their 5th time with us. Mariángel Villalobos is a UMD grad student who this week did her CPVp while exploring the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. Dennis Wojahn is honorary “first dad” of College Park. We’re delighted to see that he’s now joining us regularly from Green Bay, WI, where he joins his wife Karen for her weekly CPVp.

Kris Sooklal was this week’s one new 10-timer, exploring trails in Alexandria, VA.

And we had a strong crop of SIX new 25-timers: Luther Lemon, Brian Rosenberg, Neha Joshi, Anne L’Ecuyer, Carly Mills, and barkrunner Shackleton.

We love that this group brings all kinds of family connections to the community.

Carly had done a lot of CP parkruns before the pandemic, having found us via her sister Erin Munsell, who in turn found us via her aunt Cindy Conant. Shackleton has been to many CP parkruns in the beforetimes, but we’re not sure how many, because poor barkrunners were not independently counted. What we do know is that Shackleton’s human Angela was super close to earning a 50 shirt before the shutdown.

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Shackleton is halfway to earning his CPVp 50 badge

Neha and Luther joined us a few times for the in person events, but they have become super regulars in 2020. Luther is typically getting out on a Saturday with a few family members. Neha is a UMD grad student who regularly does CPVp with husband Yogarshi Vyas, not infrequently with Vigilante Coffee as a well chosen turnaround point. And now her parents Hemant and Vidya have started joining us from Pune, India. Fabulous!

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How to celebrate your 25th CPVp on a cold, windy day? Trip to Vigilante, of course!

Anne and Brian fall squarely in the “silver lining” category of people who we now look forward to hearing from every week but who we had never met before the pandemic. Anne started joining us regularly in the early summer when we were doing our virtual civil rights history tour. She has been out there almost every Saturday since then. Brian is part of the branch of Team Rosenberg in Pennsylvania. Brian is Duane Rosenberg’s nephew. HIs son Peter and wife Jessica are now regular CPVpers too, so we’ll have more cake badges to send to Mechanicsburg in the coming weeks.

Congratulations to all! With a few more months of the pandemic to go, we’re hoping to see many of these earning he next level of badge … including the as-yet mythical CPVp 50 badge.

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If virtual parkruns always end at a playground, Daschiell is all in favor of the parents taking part every week.

Virtual Volunteers

As always, we could not do these events without a weekly crew of virtual volunteers. This week’s crew was:

Katie Hirsche: results
Tim Keer: results and cheerleading
Tara Mease: results guru
Colin Phillips: report and propaganda
Hannah Russell: report
Lisa Shiota: results
Anna Tinnemore: results
Andrea Zukowski: email

Thanks to Lisa and Tim for joining our team of regulars. Lisa is a local, who gathered activities recorded via Strava. Tim joined us from Michigan, and gathered Facebook activities. Tim is a regular at Livonia parkrun and Lillie parkrun, Ann Arbor, where his daughter Emma is the brains and the energy behind Lillie Virtual parkrun. Tim has visited College Park just a couple of times before, but he has made huge contributions behind the scenes to our understanding of how to build a healthy community.

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Discover thyself!

Barkrunners

Our barkrunners are full of wisdom on how to live a healthy, happy life, even during a pandemic. Lots of walks and runs are important. As are plentiful snacks. And don’t forget the naps. Rest and recovery is a key part of any successful training plan.

Shackleton was looking dapper in his Christmas bowtie this week. After running through puddles on the flooded trail, he enjoyed some well deserved rest on the sofa!

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Shackleton wore a bow tie for the occasion. Not everybody dresses up so well when they earn a CPVp 25-timer badge. We approve!

Pakora also understands the necessity of naps after a 3 mile run.

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Jasper and Whistler (whose humans are Tim Keer and Jeri Gallant Keer), skipped the run altogether and went straight to the comfort of a good sofa.

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Shannon walked 2 miles with her human Brian Maas, a good distance for the 11 year old barkrunner!

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Looking Ahead

CP parkrun will be back to something more like “normal”. Eventually. But that’s going to take a while yet. We’ll be happy if on Memorial Day weekend 2021 we are all gathering at Acredale Park, instead of holding what will otherwise be CP Virtual parkrun #59. We’re not counting on that happening.

In broader parkrun world there is gradual return of events. This weekend saw around 25,000 take part in 250 events, almost all in Australia and New Zealand. Our friend Mary Botto, a Marylander and Terp alum who is event director at Mosman parkrun in Sydney, can now look forward to a return to parkrunning in January. There are rumors of the return of junior parkrun in the UK early in 2021. But no changes are imminent in the US or Prince George’s County any time soon. And for good reason.

It is 100% certain that we will be parkrunning virtually through the next 3+ months of winter. So our top priority is to keep moving, to stay safe and healthy, and to stay sane over these tough few months, to take us to CPVp #50, which you can mark in your diaries for March 27th, 2021.

The single biggest factor in keeping this community active is you. Your encouragement of family, friends and neighbors makes a huge difference. And when you share your stories and support others, that keeps everybody going.

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Here are some coming attractions over the next month.

December 12th: We’ll be holding a semi-virtual send-off for Neil Jograj and Julie Russell, who are relocating to Georgia. Few people embody the glass half full attitude as much as these two. Read their story here: Nobody left behind (parkrun USA blog).

December 12th or 19th: When we combine the distances covered in CPVp we are just 1500 km short of a complete circumnavigation of the earth, i.e., 40,075 km. 1500 km is a stretch for one week, but an easy ask for 2 weeks.

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.

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

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The days are short in December. Mood lighting for Louise Godley's CPVp.

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If December brings dark days, then fight back with bright clothing! Good idea, Melanie!

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Heather jingled all the way this week

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Katie putting down this week's fastest CPVp in Rock Creek Park

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Dave is pretty happy that his daughter and running buddy Alyssa is back from college

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Dami and Andres ran a half marathon around BWI Airport. It was supposed to be around the perimeter, but a wrong turn took them to the terminal building. No problem!

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When you can stalk deer on your virtual parkrun, life is good, according to Foxy.

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When you pose a question, and the response comes in the form of song lyrics.

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Ok, so Janet's weather for her CPVp in Honolulu was pretty darn tolerable

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Keep on smiling, everybody. See you next week!

 

Eighteen people and a banana creme pie (Virtual Report 31-32)

“I wish every week had three days of work, two parkruns, and cheesecake!”

Wise words from Jen Matis. If your week didn’t include cheesecake, then that is more evidence of how 2020 is failing us all.

Normally on Thanksgiving we would gather a big crowd in Acredale Park to start off the holiday. That didn’t happen this year, of course. But we still loved hearing from so many of you, and it was fantastic to see lots of families getting active together.

Some families were all together and pushing a running stroller. Some were thousands of miles apart. Whether you were pushing to break the CPVp “course” record, or taking a break for “a cuppa and a slice of toasted teacake” while walking with double hip replacements, it is 100% in the spirit of CPVp.

So put on the kettle, settle down, and read about what happened this week at College Park Virtual parkruns #31 and #32.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE
FOR OUR WEEKLY RESULTS FORM CLICK HERE

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"Thankful for toys". What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Facts and Figures

Big numbers this week. Each of the totals is for Thursday and Saturday combined, followed by the Thursday and Saturday counts.

  • 441 virtual parkrunners (247 + 194)
  • 1680 miles covered (890 + 790)
  • 81 first-timers (66 + 15)
  • 10 new HIGH FIVE badges earned (4 + 6)
  • 8 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned (1 + 7)
  • 11 new 25-TIMER badges earned (2 + 9)
  • 34 barkrunners (19 + 15)
  • 14 virtual volunteers (8 + 6)

Stat(s) of the week: From our start in May through the end of November (7 months, 32 weeks) College Park Virtual parkrun has seen 5385 participants.

And this week was by some measures our busiest EVER week at CP parkrun.

Total participation for November was 945. This passes our previous monthly record of 865 in November 2019, a month that had the advantage of 6 events. Total participation for just this (long) weekend was 441. This passes our previous weekly record of 411 from New Years 2020.

Like so much else in 2020, this is all rather improbable.

RESULTS FOR CP VIRTUAL TURKEY TROT (CPVp 31)
RESULTS FOR CP VIRTUAL PARKRUN 32

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Lisa Shiota wore her "traditional Turkey Trot hat" for her CPVp on Thursday

Family Affair

Many families chose not to come together for Thanksgiving this year, in the interest of public health. We encouraged families to use our Virtual Turkey Trot to help them to connect even when they were apart. And they did!

Team Rosenberg and Team Phillips-Zukowski had challenged each other to recruit as many family members as possible. Both turned out big groups.

Team Rosenberg had 10 participants in 6 locations (4 states) this week, including 1 barkrunner. In addition to CPVp regulars Duane, Peter, Jessica, Brian, and Dave, we also welcomed Emily, Jenna, barkrunner Rose, and TWO Dianes!

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Diane David and Emily Sizemore (Duane Rosenberg's sister and niece) reported in for Team Rosenberg from Ellicott City, MD

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Jenna David and barkrunner Rose reported in for Team Rosenberg from Colorado, where the weather was a little different than in Maryland.

Team Phillips-Zukowski can’t compete with the running pedigree of the Rosenbergs, but they extend to two countries. They had 14 participants this week (2 barkrunners), 4 in the UK and 10 spread across 3 US states.

They had plans for a couple of additional team members in London, but faced a last-minute withdrawal due to “potty training” for a nearly 3-year old. Serious business.

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Arabella Phillips, age 5, got in a walk in Bristol, UK, as did her grandparents across town. 

But these two teams were no match for Team Ridge, who mustered 18 people in 4 states. Their team included no barkrunners. But it did include a banana creme pie (which did not count towards the team total). Lily, Violet, Calvin, and Felix did their virtual Turkey Trot by walking to a friend’s house to exchange Thanksgiving delicacies. Milo came along too. But he wasn’t able to walk, as he’s just 7 weeks old.

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Violet, Lily, Calvin, and Felix delivered this delicious looking pie to friends as part of their virtual Turkey Trot. Baby Milo looks forward to some non-virtual parkrunning when he's old enough to walk.

Clark Ridge said: “It was great to call my family and ask them to do something fun and good for them. They were all happy to participate.”

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The Martins checked in for Team Ridge from above Devil's Lake in Wisconsin

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That's Iris, Claron (Clark's twin brother) and Gideon, doing their CPVp in Florida.  

Fortunately, a family can enjoy a fun turkey trot with fewer than 18 participants.

Some families were able to get together in the same place. Often this was at the Paint Branch Trail.

On Saturday Elmer Hernández brought along eight other family members to enjoy the trail with him. This included his 75-year old father-in-law who loved chasing his grandkids down the trail.

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Team Hernández was out in force on Saturday

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Team Kaczmarski took to the Paint Branch Trail on Thursday armed with chalk, Katie: “The kids and I stopped throughout to write what we were thankful for and decorate the trail. We absolutely loved it!" Meanwhile, they were joined at a distance by their Ohio relatives Holly, Joe, and Meg Nurre.

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The Kaczmarski enjoyed spreading the gratitude along the trail

By Thursday afternoon the start/finish area at Acredale Park was just full of cool chalking, thanks to other families that visited during the day, including Team McElhenny and Team Lemon. (In case you’re wondering where we get the trail chalk from: Artist and Craftsman Supply in Hyattsville, directly behind Streetcar 82 Brewing, is an amazing place to explore.)

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Theodore: "I am grateful for my family." 

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Fiona left encouragement for mom

Hump left a chalk message too.

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Other families were getting moving together in nearby towns. This included Team Sisan in Kensington, who sent us a copy of their Thanksgiving front yard trivia board; Team Rueter-Byrne in University Park; and Team Schneider in Hyattsville, who wrote messages for us.

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The Sisan family trivia board is updated daily during the pandemic

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Many families were connecting at a distance. Carly Maas was joined by family members in Greensboro, NC, including her mom, dad, brother, and dog Shannon. Andrea Maas reported that the turkey hats that they wore on their run attracted cheers and honks from passers by.

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Andrea and Brian Maas did their virtual turkey trot in Greensboro, NC

Mayor Patrick Wojahn was joined by his parents Karen and Dennis in Wisconsin, and his aunt Mary Hicks in Rockford, IL. In fact, Mary earned her 5-timer badge on Saturday. Way to go, Mary!

#JustKeepRunning

Last year at Thanksgiving Paul Wester went out for a run around his neighborhood. The next day he did the same. And the next day. He kept on going, every single day. In all weathers. Often in the pre-dawn dark.

This Thanksgiving, Paul’s family was feeling super proud of him as he completed a whole year of running every day. 44 of those days were College Park (virtual) parkruns.

Paul was featured in RunWashington’s Monumental Runner column in July. Read about his running story.

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Congratulations, Paul!

Tour de DMV

Among the chalking at Acredale Park we found the message: “Greetings from Fletcher’s Cove”, clearly referring to the parkrun event in DC that set our own journey in motion 5 years ago. Who could this have been from?

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A visit to Strava revealed the answer. Sol and Terri Snedeker found a unique way to celebrate this unusual Thanksgiving, by running all five parkrun courses in the DMV in a single day. They set off at Roosevelt Island parkrun at 8:40am, then headed to Anacostia, Kensington, College Park, and ended at their home event, Fletcher’s Cove, finishing around 3pm.

To our knowledge this is the first time that anybody has completed all five in a day. Good idea to do it on a relatively low traffic day like Thanksgiving.

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Impressive tour, Sol and Terri!

New Signs

Visitors to the Paint Branch Trail during the Thanksgiving long weekend were treated to a cool new set of signs, featuring drawings of members of our parkrun community, encouraging people to walk, jog, or run.

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Lisa and Hump could be found in their regular spots. Colin and Andrea were holding court in Acredale Park (which is kind of their regular spot). And there were a few other regular parkrun or virtual parkrun volunteers, plus College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn, who has supported our events in many ways (as have many other local officials; we are very fortunate).

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Some parkrunners even had the experience of “running into themselves” along the trail. Not the sort of thing that happens to you every day.

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Tara and Xander ran into themselves on the trail!

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Lori loves her picture. Thanks, Zoe!

Huge thanks to parkrunner Zoe Phillips for the drawings and to Andrea for the sign design. Between the signs and the trail chalking, the Paint Branch Trail was drawing visitors over the course of the weekend, as people wanted to come see the decorations for themselves.

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Even this bald eagle wanted to come see what was happening along the trail this week

All around the world

When we awoke on Saturday we were thrilled to find a message in the CP parkrun email inbox from Hemant and Vidya Joshi, who were writing from India. “We did College Park parkrun last year along with Neha [daughter] and Yogarshi [son-in-law] who live in College Park. We loved it. Neha suggested that we can participate virtually from here in Pune (India).  We go on a small hike of 5 kms every Saturday.” Fantastic! We love meeting and welcoming family from far away, and also learning about where they are.

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Welcome Hemant and Vidya!

Pune is located in the west of India around 90 miles from Mumbai. It is the 8th largest city in India with around 7 million inhabitants. So, slightly larger than the DC metro area. It is known as a major educational center, and rates as one of the most “livable” cities in India. In the 18th century it was the seat of the Peshwas, the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire, making it one of the most important political centers on the Indian subcontinent. Mahatma Gandhi and his wife were kept under house arrest at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune in 1942-44, and Gandhi’s ashes are kept at a memorial on the palace site today.

… and for good measure, Neha’s brother (?) Nitish also joined us on Saturday, from a little less far afield, in New York City.

Also on Saturday we received Thanksgiving greetings from even further away. Darren and Lucille Pead visited us from Sydney, Australia for our Thanksgiving parkrun last year. (Lucille has family in Northern Virginia.)

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Happy Thanksgiving from Sydney, Australia

Eddie Matus checked in on Saturday from his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay. He’ll be back home in College Park next week. Enjoy the warm weather for now, Eddie!

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It's early summer in Uruguay

And to round out our collection of continents, our European participant ranks grew on Thursday as we welcomed 10 people from the Melton Mowbray parkrun community, They helped to inspire our virtual events, and we have been following their progress closely. So it was only reasonable to invite them over for Thanksgiving.

The one continent (aside from Antartica) not represented at our Thanksgiving weekend virtual parkruns was Africa.

Fun fact: as of this weekend, all 4 parkrun events in the African country of Namibia have reopened following the COVID-19 shutdown. Namibia has about 10 times the area of Maryland, but only 40% of the population. Namibia has fared rather better than Maryland in the pandemic.

Milestones and More

With the huge numbers of participants this weekend, it’s little surprise that we have lots of first-timers to welcome and lots of milestones to celebrate. Thursday was mostly about the first-timers, Saturday had far more milestones.

FIRST-TIMERS. In a normal week we would welcome a handful of newcomers. This weekend there were EIGHTY ONE first-timers.

Many of this week’s first timers joined as part of a family group. We don’t have the space (and you, dear reader, probably don’t have the patience) to introduce all of them individually. But we can give a shout out to a few. You can find them all in the results tables from Thursday and Saturday.

Helena Santos-Collins joined for a walk with the family on the Paint Branch Trail on Saturday. Helena earned her parkrun 50 shirt just a couple of weeks before we shut down in late winter, and we were thrilled to see her back on the trail.

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Great to see Helena and Kalonji on the trail together. Their kids Hannah and Sam were running off into the distance at this point.

Tom Heffernan visited College Park once, this February, and walked the trail together with his wife Joan Heffernan. Tom and Joan live in Suffield, CT. Joan is now one of the 28 CPVp ever-presents, with 32 runs in 32 weeks. But for Thanksgiving she slowed it down a little and enjoyed a walk with Tom instead.

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Caitlin Meyd is another first-timer who has heard all about us. Caitlin has been supporting Stewart Mayhew’s inspiring fitness journey over the past couple of years. In fact, she encouraged him to start running, and it wasn’t too long after this that he discovered CP parkrun. Caitlin ran 5K on the NCR Trail north of Baltimore on Thanksgiving, and she was so speedy that she even appears ahead of Katie Hirsche in the results table. Welcome Caitlin!

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Welcome Caitlin!

This week ELEVEN parkrunners earned their 25-timer badge: John Maneval, Bud Verge, Eddie Matus, Joe Fox, Clark Ridge, Pratyush Tiwary, Tomas Marambio, Clare Imholtz, Jim Cantwell, Laurie Goodfriend, and Joyce Adams.

Bud, Eddie, Clark, Joyce, and Jim already have parkrun 50 or 100 shirts. We’re happy that they’re sticking with us through the pandemic. John, Tomas, and Clare all have done way more than 50 CPp + CPVp by now in total. It’s too bad that 2020 didn’t give us a chance to celebrate them in our normal style. Joe and Pratyush have joined us at CPp a few times, and we’re really glad that they have joined us regularly for CPVp. We are especially happy to celebrate Laurie’s 25th CPVp, as she is a local who has never been to CP parkrun before, but now takes part almost every week. Laurie, we hope that you’ll be able to join us sometimes once we’re back to our “normal” operations.

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Jim Cantwell was among this week's MANY CPVp milestone earners

We have virtual turtle badges for our EIGHT new ten-timers: Dami Alao, Lisa Parsons, Adrien Harrison, Jeri Keer, Pakora, Rebekah Esmaili, Marianne Poon, and Frank Filteau.

We love that this group represents the diversity of this virtual community.

Lisa and Frank are long-time regulars at CP parkrun. Frank reached 100 parkruns faster than anybody else in the United States.

Dami, Marianne, and Rebekah are locals who have joined us more often during the pandemic. Dami’s first CPp was on Thanksgiving last year. This year on Thanksgiving Andrea encouraged him to jump so that she could take a picture. She forgot that Dami is a former pole vaulter. He can jump!

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Dami can jump!

Adrien and Jeri have never been to CPp before. But they have joined us thanks to family members who are regulars. Adrien’s sister Meridith Phillips is a CPVp regular, and now we look forward to hearing from Adrien in Columbia, MD every week. This week she ran a (virtual?) half marathon, and she beat her previous best time by 15 minutes. Nice! Jeri joins us from Birmingham, MI. her husband Tim and daughter Emma join us practically every week, and have both visited College Park a couple of times in person. We love that Jeri and barkrunners Whistler and Jasper can team up with Tim (and sometimes Emma) to enjoy a gentle paced Saturday outing from home , with no need for them to set out at silly-o’clock to go visit parkrun locations throughout the Midwest.

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Adrien (middle) and the rest of her crew enjoyed a run in Annapolis on Thursday. Then she ran a solo half marathon on Saturday in a huge PB. Nice!

And we are happy to see TEN parkrunners earn HIGH FIVE badges this weekend: Ben Gieske, Monique Richards, Gwyneth McElhenny, Jenny Kent, Pam Marcus, Susan Keller, Mary Hicks, Diane Rosenberg, Graham Foster, and Nina Snowling.

This group also reflects the breadth of CPVp. Half are local, half are far away. Some are seasoned parkrunners, others are not.

Pam is Event Director at Kensington parkrun, and she may be the only person to ever direct two US parkrun events in a single day when she led both Kensington and College Park on New Years Day 2020. As New Years doubles have been abolished henceforth (boo!) this is a distinction that she’ll likely hold forever. We’re glad that she’s now regularly joining us outdoors on Saturday mornings.

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One of the silver linings of normal parkruns being suspended is that we more often see folks who would normally be busy leading other local parkrun events on a Saturday.

By rights, Gwyneth should have earned her parkrun 10 shirt for junior parkrunners by now. Just two more once we return to “normal”, Gwyneth!

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Gwyneth and Mariella decorating the trail

Mary (Illinois) and Diane (Iowa) are both relatives of local dignitaries and experienced parkrunners Patrick Wojahn and Duane Rosenberg. We’re thrilled that they now join us regularly. Jenny, Nina, and Graham are regular UK parkrunners who seem to very much get how we roll at CPVp.

We are really happy to hear from Ben (and Meghan) Gieske. They now live in South Bend, IN, but they were regular CP parkrunners during their time in Maryland. One of the things that we love about CPVp is that we get to hear from friends who have moved away from the area.

Almost a record

Duane Rosenberg’s nephew Brian Rosenberg made a run at the CPVp record this week, running in Mechanicsburg, PA (near Harrisburg).

Brian’s time of 16:49 came really close to the CPVp record of 16:44 set by Chris McGough just 3 weeks ago. We suspect that it’s only a matter of time before Brian reaches that time.

(Note that the overall male course record for CP parkrun is 14:57, set by Paul Marteletti in 2017. Paul recently was the first 40+ year old finisher in the London Marathon, with a time of 2h20, which amounts to 16:35 pace for 5K, eight times in succession. Wow.)

Virtual Volunteers

We are always thankful for our virtual volunteers. But even more so this week, with two busy events in the space of three days. Kudos to all of these folks:

Katie Hirsche: Strava results (Th, Sa)
Nick Huang: Facebook results (Th)
Tara Mease: results czar (always)
Colin Phillips: propaganda
Kath Phillips: quality control
Zoe Phillips: trail art
Anna Tinnemore: form results (Th, Sa)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography

Huge thanks to Zoe for the artwork along the trail this week. And to Mike from Next Day Sign in College Park who turned everything around super fast so that we would have the signs in time for Thanksgiving. Thanks to Kath (Colin’s mum) who checks these reports every week. Since she appears in the results table this week for the first time, we get to add a nice little volunteer emoji next to her name.

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Our previous Hump sign went missing, so the new one came right on time

We have four events coming up in December. Can you help? Drop us a line if you can, and we’ll be glad to sign you up for a fun volunteer role. These reports are among the larger of the weekly undertakings. Including finding and saving the great pictures that we receive each week.

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Thank you to Andrea for photos that make us feel a little less isolated in 2020

Barkrunners

We are thankful for our barkrunners, too. We see more of them at CPVp than we ever did at CP parkrun. They help to remind us that not everybody is thinking about the pandemic or the state of the nation all the time, and that there are always some things to feel good about, even in 2020.

Barkrunner Roo left a Thanksgiving message on the trail on Thursday.

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That's a good thing to be thankful for

Barkrunner Pakora reached a milestone on Saturday, by taking part for the 10th time.

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Pakora earned his 10-timer badge

It looks like barkrunner Sophie made the most of the warmer weather on Thursday to do a little swim-run duathlon.

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Swim-run virtual duathlon for Sophie!

And many of our barkrunners were enjoying getting together with friends. No social distancing required.

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Eli and Murphy enjoyed getting together for the holiday.

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Belle and Tuffi enjoyed a walk together in Rehoboth Beach, DE

Looking Ahead

Thanksgiving 2020 has been like no other. The current wave of the pandemic is harsh. But we are also reaching a point where we can start looking forward to a return to “normal” in 2021, including the return of our in-person weekly events.

As in other parts of life, we are asking not only when current restrictions will lift, we are also asking what we want the new normal to look like.

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By our calculations, CP Virtual parkrun #50 would take place on March 27th, if virtual events are still a thing at that point. That seems very likely. But we would be surprised if we are still parkrunning virtually in July 2021. Our current best guess would be for an April-June restart.

A restart will require covid-19 risks to have declined enough that Prince George’s County again allows events of 200+ to take place. It will also require parkrun Global to give the green light for a restart. For either of these there might be a lag of a few weeks between the decision to go ahead and permission to actually hold events. We are unsure how this will unfold.

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Kristie is one of the parkrunners who has only ever known us in virtual mode. We look forward to welcoming her to a face-to-face event in a few months.

We miss seeing everybody in person. We look forward to the buzz of a crowd and the barks of impatient barkrunners as we wait for the start. We will be happy to be able to again use a barcode scanning system that allows us to complete the weekly results auto-magically by late morning on a Saturday, rather than sifting through different records late on a Saturday night.

But there are some things that we have been especially thankful for during the pandemic, which we hope to (somehow) not lose afterwards.

  1. Not hurrying. We have always said that “it’s not a race”, but in the pandemic that has become so obvious that we haven’t even needed to say it. We see more walkers, and more people just taking their time to get outside with family or friends. That is super valuable.
  2. Creativity. You have amazed us with your creativity, resourcefulness, imagination, observation in your virtual parkruns. It has been so wonderful to read and share your pictures and stories during the pandemic. We love that more parkrunners are sharing their stories and pictures.
  3. Small world. We have strengthened friendships around the state, country, and world during the pandemic. And we have enjoyed staying in touch with locals even when they’re on the road. It’s hard to imagine walking away from all this goodness.
  4. Quality time. A face-to-face parkrun is efficient. Most folks arrive and leave within the same hour. That’s good, but we have appreciated the slower pace of the pandemic. When folks show up at the park or for coffee at different times, there’s more time to enjoy some great conversations.
  5. Outdoor dining. To be clear, we *love* our spacious, welcoming, creative hangout spot at The Board and Brew. But the outdoor hangouts have been a nice surprise. Sitting by the stream is pleasant. We have a choice of menus. Mingling is easier. And it’s definitely good for the barkrunners.
  6. Barkrunners. Speaking of barkrunners, we have enjoyed their greater visibility in the virtual parkruns. We figured it might be fun to include them in the results, expecting that it might just go for a few weeks. But they have played a much bigger role than that. They have kept us motivated, inspired, balanced, and entertained.

We’re sure that there are more things that belong on this list. Let’s make it a “things that we want to hold onto” list, rather than a “things that we will miss” list.

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Silver lining: friends far away that we can check in with every week. Looks like it was unseasonably warm in Michigan this week for Emma and Tim.

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Silver lining: we love seeing Lisa at the parkrun turnaround point. But enjoying a glass of mead at the midpoint of your CPVp is pretty nice, too. Ellen and Eli headed to Maryland Meadworks as part of Small Business Saturday.

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Silver lining: coffee outside with friends is pretty nice. Our regular hangouts were closed for Thanksgiving, so we checked out the super cool outdoor hangout area next to The Hall CP, plus coffee and snacks from Bagels 'n Grinds. It was a hit!

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Silver lining: barkrunners! This week we were happy to see Lizzie at the Paint Branch Trail

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Silver lining: regular parkrunners can take part wherever they are. This is the view of Cindy Cohen's route in Idaho this week.

For better or for worse, it will be a few months before we have to address these challenges, as we will be parkrunning virtually through the winter. For now, we can feel thankful that the past few months has helped us to see these benefits.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Happy Thanksgiving, Jackie!

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Malik celebrated one year since his first CP parkrun by running a CPVp PB. Nice!

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View from Meridith Phillips' CPVp on Saturday, in Nag's Head, NC. Nice change of scene.

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More change of scenery. Sisters Carly and Erin ran together (with Dan as paparazzo) around the monuments downtown on Thanksgiving morning.

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Team Poremba continues their exploration of the parks of eastern Ohio. And we get to enjoy the tour virtually.

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View from Sam Phipps' walk on Saturday at Riviera Beach, MD

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See you next week!

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