Heart (Run Report #167)

We did not expect to see Hump Plotts at College Park parkrun #167. It was just last week that we were wishing him well for his upcoming heart surgery. It is a testament to the wonders of modern medicine and the draw of this community that Hump was there in his regular marshal spot at 9am on Saturday, with Joel Goldberg on hand as his stunt double. The surgery went well, and his heart is in much better shape. Still a little raw and unable to leave his truck. But still checking on everybody as they come and go in either direction. Great to see you making such good progress, Hump!

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Whereas Hump has been with us almost every week for the past 3 years, Chris Roth moved to College Park just a couple of weeks ago. But he has already found that CP parkrun is a great way to get to know the community. Chris is a German student who is doing a 6-month masters project at UMD. Already on his first visit he met a lot of different people and asked about how to sign up to volunteer. We love it! (Answer: follow the link in a weekly results email, or edit your profile at parkrun.com to opt in to Andrea’s once weekly news update email.)

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This week 121 people walked or ran the full course at College Park parkrun and 19 people volunteered. A few people covered part of the course, and we had a good few barkrunners, stroller riders, and other friends along for the party. So, all told around 150 taking part on a brisk December morning with temps in the 30s. Not at all bad!

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Two stories caught our eye this week about parents and kids at CP parkrun.

John Barnhardt and his young son are a regular fixture at CP parkrun. Normally John is pushing the stroller and junior is reading a book while speeding along the trail. This week I was surprised to see them roll up without the stroller. They were going to try out the course on foot together! And they did great. They made it to the bridges and back, which is a little over 2 miles. That’s really good going on young legs.

Sometimes the greatest achievements at CP parkrun are from people who don’t even appear in the results table.

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Meanwhile, Robin Moon was another person who was running along the trail for the first time, thanks to a parent. But Robin is in the 60+ age category. And the parent is Tami Graf, an inspirational octogenarian runner who has joined us many times before. Tami explained that it was Robin who got her into running, when she was running in high school. Tami started running a few decades ago, and now she’s one of the leading 80+ runners in the region.

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We celebrated one official milestone this week: Külli Crespin did her 50th parkrun. Külli has been a regular runner and regular volunteer, and she is always smiling. Currently she and parkrun friend Teresa are doing a tour of DC-area parkruns. They have recently checked out Roosevelt Island parkrun and Fletcher’s Cove parkrun. Next week they plan to visit Anacostia parkrun. But we’re glad that Külli was back at College Park for her 50th. (And we cannot deny that the donuts that she brought along were rather popular. Thank you, Külli!)

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We are always so grateful for the volunteers who make CP parkrun such a pleasure to organize. This week Neil Jograj was back in the role of Run Director. That’s the person who is responsible for making sure that everything goes smoothly on the day. Today was almost exactly 2 years after Neil and his wife Julie first joined us. Last year they shared their inspirational story in a blog piece for parkrun USA. And it was so good that it was recently translated into German.

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Whereas Neil signed up to be run director a couple of months ago -- that one role is coordinated on a roughly quarterly basis -- Lauren Filocco didn’t know that she would be volunteering at this week’s CP parkrun until around 30 seconds before the start.

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Lauren runs College Park’s Open Barre studio, and she is a 2012 UMD grad. She’s one of the small business owners that is helping to make College Park an exciting place to live nowadays. She and husband Adam -- and their pup Freddy -- came along to check out our Saturday morning community. And when Andrea announced before the start that we needed somebody to hand out finish tokens, she immediately came forward. This put her right in the thick of the action, so she definitely got to see how we roll.

Thank you, Lauren. And good luck with the barre studio. I should probably do something like this to help with my own strength and injury prevention. Andrea has tried it, and she was very happy with the benefits.

Another source of joy for us at CP parkrun is the welcoming environment that you create for Zoe, our high school senior, who identifies as male. Zoe has been having a challenging time lately due to a functional neurological disorder that leads to constant motor tics. But after a couple of years of not wanting to join us at Acredale Park on a Saturday morning, CP parkrun has become something that Zoe looks forward to on a Saturday morning. Right now running isn’t really in the cards, but just coming along, helping with different volunteer roles, and chatting with different community members is a really good way to start the weekend. Thank you to everybody!

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A related thank you to everybody who helps to make Isaac Scott feel quite at home at CP parkrun. We love this picture of him smiling on the trail this week. The 21-23 minute crowd at CP parkrun knows Isaac, and they make him feel very welcome.

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Some people aren’t much into the cooler weather. But others really love it. This helped to fuel a bunch of PBs at this week’s event.

Emily Flamm beat a PB that she set almost 2 years ago. Nice!

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Stewart Mayhew shaved seconds from his PB. Our favorite part of this is that Duane Rosenberg agreed to pace Stewart to a PB. Duane had given blood this week, and last time that he did this the parkrun didn’t work out so well. This week he finished up in one piece, and Stewart got the PB.

We were excited to see Elizabeth Cooper ringing the PB bell AGAIN. Elizabeth started joining us at the start of the UMD semester, and she’s now finishing around 10 minutes earlier than she was at the start of the semester. Nice!

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We’re loving following Reece Madsen’s journey. Reece recently had a hip replacement, and now he’s running. And he’s getting faster all the time. Another minute and a half off his PB this week!

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Similar for Stephanie Bean, who took 2 minutes from her PB!

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Second timer Malik Al-Jame first joined us only last week, but already this week he was back and setting a PB.

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I was super happy to pass Anna Damm running on the trail this week. Anna has been sidelined by injury lately and we’ve been seeing more of her in the volunteer crew while she recovers. She’s back to run-walking for now, and I’m sure that is a relief for her. I’m sure she will be back to her speedy ways before long, but for now simply being able to get active outdoors with friends is the best.

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As always it’s great to see friends bringing friends along to join our community. As you probably know, our advertising budget is the same as the entry fee, i.e., $0. So the main ways that word spreads is through you.

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Congratulations to the following people who are now members of our super-exclusive 5-timer club: Judy Meyer, Jessica Ek, Kim Lopez, and Jordan Yee Prendez. We’re happy to start Saturday mornings with you, whenever you’re available!

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Looking ahead, we have just THREE more CP parkruns in 2019. But we’re going to be kicking off 2020 in style, with our fourth annual College Park Resolution parkrun on January 1st. Do make a note of this in your diary. A few things will be special about this one:

  • It starts at 10:30am on Wednesday January 1st. Later than usual.
  • It is possible to do a DOUBLE parkrun on that day only. Kensington parkrun and Leakin Park parkrun (Baltimore) are holding 8:30am events, and we expect that many will do one of those and then head over to CP for a second.
  • We hope to again be teaming up with Prince George’s Running Club as partners for the New Years event. They’re a super accessible and inclusive group of runners and walkers who serve many in our community.
  • Big community brunch afterwards at The Board and Brew, to be confirmed.
  • And a few of us are new years babies -- including me -- so it doubles as a birthday celebration, and you’re all invited!

See you soon,

Colin Phillips, co-Event Director

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A double helping (Run Reports #165-#166)

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, because the focus is on bringing family and friends together. Ok, and we also like the cooking and eating, and we sometimes regret how much we enjoyed that part.

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The other thing that we like is that Thanksgiving is the most popular day for running events IN THE WORLD. More than one million Americans take part in running events on Thanksgiving morning, via a thousand or more turkey trot events.

Everybody seems to agree that the turkey trot tradition dates back to the Buffalo YMCA Thanksgiving race, which started way back in 1896. It had 6 finishers the first year and nowadays participation is capped at 14,000. It has been operating continuously for longer than the Boston Marathon (est. 1897).

Various factors are credited for the success of turkey trots. One that often comes up is the warm, community vibe. They’re local, they’re fun, they’re about taking part rather than winning. They’re more of an annual family tradition than a bucket list item to train for once.

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That’s where CP parkrun comes in. Those things that people like about turkey trots are what we are all about, and then some. Plus we’re free and community led. And we keep it up every single week of the year. Check out parkrun USA’s article: A year-round turkey trot. (Confession: I wrote it.)

Anyhow, one of the best things about this year is that we had TWO parkrun days, on Thanksgiving Thursday, and another two days later. This made for a busy, but fun, couple of days.

Thanksgiving Thursday

On New Years Day we got caught out. We were so focused on the cake that we forgot about finisher tokens #201-300. That made matters a bit complicated when 243 parkrunners showed up.

For Thanksgiving we were ready. With cakes AND with the full complement of tokens. And we needed them, as we welcomed a record crowd of 249 finishers.

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The cake was in large part to celebrate our THREE new 50-club members: Debbie Levenson, Misha Bernard, and John Scott. All are valuable members of our community. Debbie was already a regular before CP parkrun was an official thing, in early 2016, and she was part of our initial core volunteer team, so she has seen quite the journey as CP parkrun has grown. Misha first joined us about 2 years ago and she and her family have been regular runners and volunteers ever since. John (and his son Isaac) found us more recently, and they have become an integral part of the community. Congratulations to all. You’re going to look great in red!

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The volunteer crew handled the super-sized crowd exceedingly well, and we are very grateful to them.

Andrea led one of our busiest first-timers’ briefings ever. Normally she tries to keep it intimate and learn everybody’s name. This week, with maybe 70 first-timers. Sorry! But it was a party atmosphere.

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Expert timers Katie Hirsche and Brian Murphy were exactly who we needed to keep everything in sync, together with the token team of Jorge Urrutia and Zoe Phillips. You might think it’s easy to just click a button whenever somebody passes and hand out numbered pieces of plastic. But at peak traffic times it can get a bit confusing. Especially when some folks miss the finish line, or come through as a family, unclear who covered the course. Or just speed through the finish and don’t pick up a token.

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We needed a lot of scanning support. So, in addition to Steven Borunda, Tomas Marambio and Susan Whitney and Danny Walker all jumped in as scanners after running.

Win Persina was going to take a run, but she figured that it would be more fun to hang out with Hump at his marshal spot, and they had a great time cheering everybody on.

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And Valerie Silensky and Rebecca White were our tailwalking crew, making sure that everybody was safe and nobody finished last. And they were suitably dressed for Thanksgiving, too.

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One unusual feature of our Thanksgiving parkrun: we had a bunch of visitors from further afield. And by that, I don’t mean just Maryland, DC, or Virginia.

Nick Huang was back! Nick was last with us 6 months ago, having just completed his PhD at UMD, and about to get married and move to Connecticut. This week he was back, together with his wife Jessica, AND Jessica’s parents! And he was proudly wearing the shirt that we presented him with as a going away gift.

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We had parkrun tourists visiting from London - Commeletia and Rosemary. And all the way from Sydney, Australia. Darren and Lucille are keen parkrun tourists, and Lucille has family in Northern VA, so they combined Thanksgiving with family with a couple of parkruns. AND they brought a box of Tim Tam cookies all the way from Australia to share with you all.

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Rob Eveson zipped around the course as first finisher, also completing his 350th parkrun. Rob is normally based at Bushy parkrun in London, the original parkrun. But he has been interning in DC for the past few months, and has been checking out the various parkrun communities in the area.

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… So where was our Sam Phipps, to give Rob a run for his (no) money? Well, Sam was with family in Houston, so he checked out Terry Hershey parkrun while he was there. And of course he both finished first and charmed the locals.

Personally, I was excited to see so many old and new friends. But there’s nothing quite like the surprise of a dear old friend who you totally didn’t expect to see rock up at parkrun. Welcome to John Whalen. So good to catch up. And results processing was just going to have to wait.

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One other unique feature of Thanksgiving: our regular coffee spot was closed, so instead we checked out Bagels ‘n Grinds, in The Hotel at UMD. It was a good time, with lots of space, and fireplaces too. Thanks to the team there for making us so welcome!

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Overall, it was a super fun morning, and we’re really happy to have done the extra event. Fun fact: for perhaps the only day EVER, College Park parkrun was the largest parkrun in the whole world on 11/28/19. (Of course, that’s mostly because there were only 12 events taking place. Normally, there are many South African parkruns with 1000+ finishers on a Saturday morning.)

Thanksgiving Saturday

We had barely caught our breath from the Thanksgiving extravaganza and it was time to head to Acredale Park again!

On Thanksgiving Saturday the temps were cooler and we welcomed a smaller and more low-key crowd. But it was just as much fun as ever.

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As always we were super happy for the support of the volunteer crew. John Scott and Misha Bernard, whose 50th parkruns we had celebrated just two days earlier, were back as part of the volunteer crew. Mike McClellan volunteered while his wife Bonnie completed her 48th. Mike also entertained the crew with his harmonica while you were out on the trail.

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Personally, I was thrilled to be able to run again. I’ve been sidelined by injury lately, and was making a tentative comeback. I enjoyed running with Xander, chatting about Thanksgiving fun and learning to fly. I also got to stop to say hi to Hump, and wish him well for his surgery (... it went well!).

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It was great as usual to see so many people supporting each other in different ways. Such as Frank, who slowed down to run with Win as she returns from injury. Or Janet, who ran back down the trail to support second-timer Sharlene. And so many others.

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And one of my favorite moments of the day. When Zoe’s dear old friend Alexandra showed up unexpectedly, home for a few days from college. The spontaneous joy is hard to beat.

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I had better wrap this up, it’s almost time for the next CP parkrun!

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

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How magic happens (Run Report #164)

The magician shows us the inside of his top hat—clearly empty. With an “abracadabra” and a wave of the wand, to our surprise and delight out pops a white bunny rabbit!

It all happens so fast, the seasoned magician makes it appear effortless. We raise a cheer and laugh at the bunny. Seldom do we stop to consider the years the magician spent learning and polishing the craft, all that goes into smuggling the bunny into the hat and practicing the routine until it becomes second nature to pull it off without a hitch.

Nor do we ask—who cleans the bunny rabbit’s cage?

So too at College Park parkrun, there is so much more than meets the eye going on to make the magic happen every Saturday morning.

At the risk of spoiling the illusion, let’s take a peek behind the curtain and learn a bit of what goes on behind the scenes. Here’s how the magic happened for event 164.

Before Event Day: August-November

Co-event director and volunteer coordinator Andrea lines up a run director for each parkrun date. This typically happens somewhere between three weeks to three months before the event date. Andrea started in August lining up volunteers for run directors for all the dates in September through November. For event 164, Yancira Amaya volunteered. Thanks Yancira! She always does a fantastic job.

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During the 5 weeks leading up to each event, members of our community sign up to be volunteers. Over 300 different people have volunteered at CP parkrun. You can see what volunteer roles are available for upcoming events by looking at the “volunteer” tab of the CP parkrun website here. If you wish to help make magic, the first step is to opt in to the CP parkrun email list from the link on your results e-mail. Or you can volunteer by sending e-mail to collegepark@parkrun.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out early and often to volunteer, and make Andrea’s job a little easier.  The mid-week email from Andrea has updates on the week’s happenings and news, plus volunteer needs for the coming week.

This week for event 164, we had a terrific group of volunteers, helping out in such roles as run director, event setup, first-timers’ briefing, course marshal, timing, tokens, barcode scanning, tailwalking, event take-down, token sorting, communications czar, and run report writer (that’s me, Stewart!).

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A special thanks to Alyssa and Aaron for helping out with tokens this week. Great job!

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Getting back to our story…

On Friday night, Andrea sends out an e-mail to make sure the run director and volunteers know who is doing what and how to contact each other in case of emergency.

Event Day: Saturday, November 23, 2019

8:19 a.m.  The run director, event directors, and a couple of volunteers arrive at Acredale Park to start setting up.

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8:33 a.m. Setup is complete: the finish funnel has been built, equipment table is up, all the signage is in place, the run director’s step-stools and megaphone are ready and waiting. Andrea and Zoe pull out the colored chalk and get busy writing inspirational messages at the starting line.

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8:38 a.m. Course marshals Lisa and Hump arrive. Lisa says hello to the team then heads out to the turnaround point. Hump drives over to Hump’s Crossing to serve as crossing marshal. On her way out, Lisa checks the safety of the course, and messages the start line crew if there are any alerts. She also places dimple cones to discourage creative parkrunners from going astray.

8:30-8:45 a.m.  Volunteers make predictions of how many finishers we will have today. Winner gets gazes of admiration from other volunteers and a free timed 5K.

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8:30-8:44 a.m. Members of the St. Francis International School running club arrive, exemplary in (1) their punctuality, and (2) reminding us the importance of dynamic stretching.

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Is your school running club looking for a free 5K on a Saturday morning? parkrun may be just the ticket. Give us a shout, we’d be happy to give you the rundown.

8:30-9:00 a.m. Abracadabra!  Blink your eyes and Acredale park transforms from nearly empty to over 150 runners, walkers, and volunteers. Veteran CP parkrunners welcome the newcomers.

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8:44-8:52 a.m. Numerous individuals are spotted confusedly trying to show anyone wearing a hi-viz vest a freshly printed page of six barcodes, asking where to sign in. They are kindly invited to … 8:53 a.m. Andrea’s first-timers briefing, She makes it sound completely spontaneous every week.

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8:58 a.m. Run director Yancira gives a warm welcome to all the first timers and visitors. Then she lays down the law!

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9:00 a.m. exactly. (ok, maybe a few seconds of wiggle room there … minutes maybe if there are extra announcements or celebrations)

And we’re off!

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9:00-10:10 a.m. Tailwalker Ellen doubles as photographer, takes great action shots along the way…

First timer Marishka came with her dad, veteran parkrunner Lloyd. We hope to see you back again soon!

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Welcome back Paul, visiting from Long Island, NY. Second time at CP parkrun.

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More of Ellen’s action shots:

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Start time + 16:47: Zoom! First finisher Chris crosses the line.

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Start time + 18:50:  Tomas finishes second and volunteers to help take over as timekeeper.  Thanks Tomas!

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Start time + 19:02:  Cotter sets a new Personal Best time on his 73rd parkrun, and rings the PB cowbell. Nice work, Cotter!

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Start time + 26:56: Dylan sets a 5-minute PB!

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Cotter and Dylan were just two of 18 PBs this week! Ring that cowbell, College Park!

Don’t let these numbers deceive you—CP parkrun is also for walkers. By walking, you start to notice a lot of magic that you might not see when flying past at full steam.

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Start time + 1:13:28: CP parkrun veteran and frequent run director Anna completes her 73rd event. Great to see you, Anna!

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Start time + 16:47—Start time + 1:13:36:  Colin takes finish line photos

Ever wonder why a volunteer takes photos at the finish line? They serve double duty. They make for nice pictures in the run report and other post-event communications. But these photos also serve as a backup to resolve discrepancies or ambiguities with the scanning. If something goes awry at results processing time, Colin’s phone is another rabbit we can pull out of the hat.

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Walking along the Little Paint Branch Trail can turn strangers into friends. That’s a kind of magic we can’t explain. But we love it!

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Start time + 16:47—Start time + 1:13:36: Celebration with friends

Finishers scan their barcode and token to record their time. Nobody forgets to return their token  (ahem!). Some do a bit of cooldown stretching, some catch up with friends. Many cheer as finishers come in.  Some head down to The Board and Brew.

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Start time + 1:13:36: Tailwalkers Ellen and Joan cross the finish line.

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Lisa has brought the pylon and dimples back from the course on her way back. The last token is scanned. Timekeepers stop the clocks. Timers e-mail their time files, and scanners e-mail their barcode files, from their phone apps to the CP parkrun e-mail account.

10:20- ~10:25 a.m. Volunteers take down the finish funnel, equipment table, signage, and pack it all in Colin and Andrea’s trunk. It really doesn’t take long, and the park is as clear and empty as it was two hours ago. We always aim to leave without a trace.

10:45 a.m.- ?  Colin, Andrea, and Yancira join many others at The Board and Brew, where parkrunners are enjoying breakfast and coffee. At one end of the table, volunteers sort finish tokens and double check that none are missing, making sure all is ready for next week. At the other end of the table, Colin and Yancira are busy processing the results. This means running a computer program that pulls in the time files and links them to the barcode files, then manually checking all the results and correcting any errors.

… for example, this week we noticed that one speedy parkrunner accidentally presented his girlfriend’s barcode, creating a PB that would have been hard for her to beat.

11:24 a.m. Results processing is complete. Participants receive e-mails with their results; volunteers receive thank you e-mails. Colin, Stewart, and Rebecca pose for a picture modeling the latest apricot parkrun fashion shirts.

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After the event

Saturday afternoon: Communications team (Colin) posts a collection of 22 highlight photos on Facebook, with accompanying stories from the morning, as well as several highlight photos on Instagram.

Sunday and Beyond:

Colin assembles a larger collection of photos and places them in album accessible through Flickr or Facebook.

Tim Keer from Livonia parkrun in Michigan compiles a report with interesting summary statistics covering all events in the US, and providing interesting nuggets of information derived from each parkrun’s results tables. From this week’s report, we learned that 146 finishers is a new College Park record for the month of November! We also learned that parkrun USA had over 2,500 finishers and volunteers this week, within a whisker of the all-time record.

From the report we also learned about CP parkrunners on tour at other US parkruns. We learned that Larry Washington visited Byxbee parkrun in Palo Alto, CA; that Kathleen Gustafson visited Durham, NC parkrun; and that Külli Crespin and Teresa Perdomo checked out Roosevelt Island parkrun in DC. Nice tourism, everybody!

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Later in the Week:

  • Event directors replace any missing tokens.
  • Run report is drafted, edited, and posted on the CP parkrun website.
  • Communications team from parkrun USA culls interesting pictures and stories from all US parkrun events to create a weekly update online newsletter.
  • Communications team sends out additional posts on Facebook and Instagram to remind everyone what a great time we had, and get us thinking about coming next week.

I’m sure I missed a lot, but now we have a glimpse of how much goes on behind the scenes before, during, and after parkrun. After 164 events, it works so smoothly week after week. But there are many ways of helping out with the community -- drop us a line if you can lend a hand.

This week we have an extra event on Thursday, and then of course another event as usual on Saturday.  A million thanks to Colin, Andrea, and all the volunteers for all you do to make the magic happen each week at CP parkrun.

-Stewart

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Friends and Family (Run Report #163)

In the last year since finding College Park parkrun, I have been continually amazed at how parkrun brings families and friends together in a wonderful, supportive, inclusive community.  This is what keeps us coming back week after week. This week we had 128 finishers, of whom 114 were returners.

Last April, I learned that CP parkrun regulars Tara and Xander Mease headed up a team in Great Strides program at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Xander runs every day to manage his CF—parkrun on Saturday is his easy day!

This week, Tara and Xander completed their 100th parkrun. Xander, who just turned seven, is (by far!) the youngest person in the USA to achieve this milestone. Congratulations, Tara and Xander! Four generations of Xander’s family showed up in force to celebrate the milestone.

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Inspired by Xander’s example, I took this opportunity to learn a bit more about CF. I learned that part of the normal functioning of the human body involves a process where chloride moves to the cell surface. For those with Cystic Fibrosis, this process does not work properly, and without the chloride to attract water to the cell surface, the mucus in the body’s organs becomes thick and sticky. Among other things, this clogs the airways of the lungs, and makes a person susceptible to infections and respiratory failure. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation funds research that has significantly improved the ability of those with this disease to manage its complications, and is actively working toward finding a cure. Thank you Xander for inspiring me to learn more about the important work being done by CFF!

As another example of parkrun bringing families together—congratulations to Zoe Phillips, for earning two milestone shirts this week, volunteering for the 25th time and parkrunning for the 10th time.

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Zoe’s parents Colin and Andrea, event directors at CP parkrun, can’t contain their excitement about that. I understand that parkrun has inspired Andrea and Zoe to make plans for running a half marathon together in the Spring!

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On the topic of milestones, Nathan Widman and James Hudson also finished their 10th parkrun this week and earned milestone shirts. Congratulations!

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When I come to CP parkrun, everywhere I look I see family and friends coming together.

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Welcome to father/daughter first timers Marvin and Erika!

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Thanks to father/daughter barcode scanners Chris and Nina, and thanks to mother/daughter tailwalkers Yancira and Janete!

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CP parkrun is also a great place for reuniting with old friends, and meeting new ones!  Neil and Julie reunited this week with their friends from Connecticut, parkrun first timers David and Cindy.

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DC area parkrun regulars Terri and Sol reunited with their friend Tom, visiting from Telford parkrun near Birmingham, England.

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We were happy to meet Deep Run parkrun regular Randy, whose home event was apparently canceled due to a marathon. Come back any time!

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Thanks as always to the many volunteers who make this possible every week! A special shout out to our turnaround marshal Lisa for her 150th event!

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I’m so excited we have three more parkruns in November, including our special Thanksgiving day parkrun at 9am on Thursday 11/28. See you there!

Stewart Mayhew

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Worth a Thousand Words (Run Report #162)

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not about to test that here, but this picture from College Park parkrun #162 is my favorite because of the stories that it holds.

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The scene is the Tunnel of Trees, possibly the prettiest stretch of the Paint Branch Trail at any time of year. And it’s at its fall peak, when the leaves make the light golden.

Heading towards us are the front of the pack runners. Sam Phipps is trying to outrun Steven Moore (it didn’t work), both pushing each other to fast times around 17 minutes. Sam always finishes and then stops around to cheer everybody else in, before typically running back home to Silver Spring. Steven had his whole family with him, and all four set PBs this week, with mom Amanda finishing to a gauntlet of high fives from her boys.

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Heading in the other direction is a small group of walkers. They’re accompanying Ellie Elliott, great grandma of Xander Mease, who is walking along the trail, pushing her own wheelchair, going as far as feels right this week.

Of course, both the folks at the front and the folks at the back are just as much a part of this community, and I’m pretty sure that Ellie got a lot more cheers when she reached the finish than the speedsters did.

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Happenings

It was an unusually cold morning for early November, with temps in the 20s when we loaded up our van to set out for Acredale Park. One of the things that has made Saturday mornings even more enjoyable this fall is that now Zoe always joins us and helps with setup before heading off to run.

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We figured that the cold would keep more people home, but we saw the largest ever November crowd at College Park parkrun.

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We had some big milestones to celebrate this week.

Duane Rosenberg and Dom Blom both joined the 100 club.

Duane became the first mayor in America to complete 100 parkruns. Duane is currently mayor of New Carrollton.

Dom became the latest member of Prince George’s Running Club to earn a black milestone shirt.

Teresa Perdomo did her 50th parkrun, just 14 months after she joined us for the first time! She and her friend Külli celebrated by running the trail together, then heading back out along the trail to meet up with the tailwalking crew and walk back with them. And then heading to The Board and Brew for a delicious brunch.

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Speaking of tailwalkers, we were very happy that this week’s tailwalker was new volunteer Ellen Oberholtzer and her tailwagger Eli. They made sure that everybody was safe, and that nobody else finished last. And Eli enjoyed making lots of new friends.

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A few people reached unofficial milestones this week …

Angel Cejo, Lorelis Gonzalez, Reece Madsen, and RJ Spalding all joined our unofficial 10-timer club.

Kevin Oriani and Zoe Phillips became 5 timers. That’s good going for Zoe, who completed the course for the first time on October 12th!

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Volunteers

The records show that there were 18 volunteers this week. You might think that there was a big crowd waiting in the park while everybody else was enjoying the trail. That’s not really how it worked.

We had just 4 people at the finish line while everybody else was out running and walking. I, Colin, was Run Director. That wasn’t in the plans originally, but taking the RD role ensured that I didn’t make myself more injured by joining the parkrun. Xinzi He was primary timekeeper. Xinzi took a fall at last week’s parkrun and quickly decided to volunteer this week to help her recovery along. Ginger Wilkerson led barcode scanning, while mom and dad were both running their 41st parkrun. And Kerry Callaghan volunteered (again!) as part of a UMD School of Public Health class that she’s taking.

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A few volunteers were out on the course. Hump and Lisa were in their regular marshal spots, welcoming you as you passed. Carlos Gough volunteered this week as Hump’s understudy. Ellen and Eli were tailwalkers.

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By the time the clock had clicked past 18:30 we had two more of our finish line crew. Brian Murphy and Tomas Marambio both sped around the course, took a moment to ring the PB bell, and then jumped in as volunteers. And a few minutes later Susan Whitney arrived and pulled on a volunteer vest to help out as third barcode scanner for the busiest part of the finish, from around 25-35 minutes.

While you were all finishing Evan Hirsche was volunteering as photographer. He’s resting up ahead of a marathon next weekend, and so he and barkrunner Sophie took a break from parkrunning and instead captured some great shots from the trail.

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Some more volunteers came into action at The Board and Brew, as Neil, Trace, Russell, and first-timer Boriana got all the tokens in order. As Run Director, it was my job to process the results, and normally this would be a bit slow and distracting. But thanks to the excellent volunteers and the joys of the parkrun Virtual Volunteer app, I set a results processing PB, and was able to enjoy chatting with lots of parkrunners and parkwalkers.

Friends, First-timers and Visitors

An extra shout out this week to The Board and Brew, who sold enough coffees that they put out a carafe of coffee for free refills for parkrunners. Be still my heart!

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And another caffeinated shout out. Our friends at Vigilante Coffee have given us free drink gift cards to give to deserving parkrunners. This week, in recognition of the coldest parkrun of the season so far, the volunteers were surprised with a Vigilante gift card. Thank you everybody!

We welcomed a few first timers and visitors this week. Some local, some not so local.

Cory Kind is not a first-timer, but she’s a visitor from Roosevelt Island parkrun in Washington DC. She decided that she wanted to run to all of the DC parkruns from her home base in Arlington. So this week she set out early to run the 12 miles to College Park. Then, impressively, she was 5th female finisher. After which she had earned a hearty breakfast!

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Greg Ervin is based in Ohio, but he tries to join us whenever he’s in town. In fact, he has come so many times that he’s practically a regular.

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Kim and Carlos are based in West Virginia, but they are in town and their friend Trace Huard told them about CP parkrun, so they came along to check what the fuss was about.

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Tricia Cecil was this week’s first female finisher and a first timer. It was only when I finished the results processing that I realized that I had met Tricia many years ago, when we were both budding triathletes. Neither of us are now, life is too complicated. But it was a cool blast from the past. Welcome Tricia!

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It was great to welcome Pamela and Pablo to CP parkrun for the first time. CP parkrun regular Jim Sebastian has known them for a long time, and he heard that they were looking to get in shape. So he recommended that they check out CP parkrun. We’re delighted that they joined us, and hope to see them again.

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More first-timers: Austin and Adrienne, together with their passengers (see the picture above). If Adrienne looks a little familiar, that’s because she’s a cousin of CP regular Tara Mease. They were with us this week together with Janet and great grandma Ellie.

PBs and other speediness

Lots of PBs to feel good about, too!

The fast guys were really moving this week. Steven Moore dipped under 17 minutes for the first time. Wow. Sam Phipps was so close to a PB. Brian Murphy and Tomas Marambio both set PBs.

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Rebecca White set another PB, walking the 5K in 1:10. We’re excited to see Rebecca progress, and we know there’s much more to come. She was joined this week by her son Joel, who also set a PB.

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For Mike McClellan it wasn’t a PB, but it was a big step over his walking time last week. Mike is recovering from spine surgery. Last week he walked the 5K in around 1:08. This week he was back with his two walking canes and he set off with determination, finishing in 56 minutes.

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Wayne Dunbar has now set 4 PBs in 4 visits to CP parkrun. And Celeste Pere has set a PB on almost all of her 9 parkruns!

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Andrew Widman’s string of PBs keeps getting longer. Now under 24 minutes!

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Maria Cecil put in a strong finish to duck under 31 minutes for the first time.

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Maureen Hewick returned for a third time, and took a few minutes from her walking PB. A few more weeks like this and she’ll be breathing down Judy Barnes’ neck!

Lorelis Gonzalez and Angel Cejo just keep on setting PBs. Out of 10 parkruns, they have set a PB or been within a second or two 9 times (see picture above).

Amy Rice set a nice new PB this week, possibly thanks to the enthusiasm of her barkrunner.

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Coming Attractions

Lots to look forward to. Still 4 more parkrun days this month!

  • Don’t forget about our special College Park parkrun Turkey Trot on Thursday 11/28. Usual 9am start time. Tell friends and family! Especially walkers.
  • Next Saturday, 11/16, we’ll be celebrating a few milestones. Xander and Tara Mease will be wearing the black sashes for their 100th parkrun. They started joining us when Xander was 4, and he recently reached the ripe old age of 7. Also, double milestone for Zoe Phillips — 10th parkrun AND 25th time volunteering. We’ll leave it to Zoe to figure out how to juggle the sash and the purple superhero cape.
  • Looking further ahead, mark your calendars for our 4th annual New Year’s Resolution parkrun on January 1st. College Park parkrun will start at the special late hour of 10:30am. And you have the option of doing an additional parkrun at 8:30am in Kensington or Leakin Park (Baltimore). Followed by a big community brunch at The Board and Brew.

See you soon! I’m looking forward to running again soon, if this pesky achilles injury will go away.

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

P.S. Oops. The run report came in at more than a thousand words

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Comeback Kids (Run Report #161)

A cool morning turned into a perfect day for a run or walk in the park! We had 99 finishers on the 161st running of our beloved College Park parkrun. It continues to be my favorite running event and something I look forward to week after week. It’s great to have a no-pressure, friendly jog or walk in the park with a wonderful community that is completely free! Here are some of the stories and milestones achieved this week.

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We had several “comeback kids” this time. Our parkrunners are not immune from injuries and ailments that keep them sidelined for a week or more. We are always thrilled to see them come back.

This week saw the return of Mike McClellan and Rebecca White after several months, with Rebecca marking her return with a PB! Mike is recovering from spine surgery, and he wasn’t sure how far he would get along the trail. So of course he went the whole 5K. It took him 30 minutes longer than his PB, but it was a mighty impressive achievement.

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Katie Hirsche returned after an almost two-month stint of volunteering (thanks!) to get a new PB of sorts as well. She enjoyed her first walking parkrun, which I encourage everyone to try. You get to enjoy the scenery and smiling faces for double the time of a typical run at no extra cost!

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We shared the trail with WABA’s Cider Ride. Lots more traffic on the trail, but all went off without incident. Thanks to all who called out warnings of passing riders.

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We also welcomed several first timers. Doug Dicks visited us from Indiana with newly local daughter Ashley. Their friend Cole Griffin visited from New Jersey. Other first timers included Haimei Jin and Charlene Shortte. Please join us again! You will be a regular before you know it.

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Thomas Parsons made his family the first to have four 50-timer shirts to keep track of and long-time College Park parkrunner Trace Huard made it to 50 as well. Congratulations, gents!

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Unofficial milestones include 5-timer James Whitehead who has come five weeks in a row and 10-timers Annika Dallmann and Kristen Wares who also got a PB. Dinah Cohen is now half-way to 50. It happens before you know it!

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Other PBs (there were plenty due in part to the perfect weather): Keri Pierce (after 41 parkruns!), Alanna Kempton cut seven minutes at age seven, Cirílio Perez is four-for-four with parkrun PBs and Natasha Oliviera has had five in a row! Angel Cejo and Lorelis Gonzalez both running their 9th have PBs almost every time.

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Finally, a thanks to those who made it happen this week: the volunteers! We had an almost-all-new finish line crew this week with Anna Damm and Violet Ridge both scanning for the first time and Cotter Rosenberg working as one of our timers. We had a great time at the finish with timer Brian Murphy and Catherine Madsen doing finish tokens. Duane Rosenberg and Russell Dickerson gamely sorted tokens and  Anna Tinnemore served as tail-walker.

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Colin Philips, Zoe Phillips, Hump Plotts, Lisa Wilson and Adrea Zukowski all did their regular part in serving as the backbone of this event.

It can’t happen without the wonderful volunteers. Try it! It’s fun!

Some coming attractions:

  • Lots more people to celebrate (of course!). This week four parkrunners completed their 99th parkrun, so it’s time to dust off the black sash. Duane Rosenberg and Dom Blom will be wearing black on Nov 9th, and Tara and Xander Mease on Nov 16th.
  • We have six parkrun days in November, so five more still to go!
  • And one of them is on Thanksgiving morning. Join us for the friendliest, freest turkey trot in all of College Park.

I very much enjoyed my 11th time as run director and look forward to participating again in the coming weeks. Run, walk, volunteer! We have something for everyone.

Clark Ridge

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Pirate parrrrkrun! (Run Report #160)

College Park parkrun #160 was special because it was the parkrun before Halloween. Thanks to everyone who showed up in costume!

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As a pirate-wannabe, I am happy to report that if you add up all the miles that we have covered in our College Park parkruns, we have circumnavigated the globe, not once, but TWICE!  That’s some mighty fine sailin’. Or runnin’.

The parkrunner who completed our second circumnavigation by finishing 104th, becoming the 16,030th finisher, came part way around the globe to join us. Lucy Parr visited this week from Yorkshire, England, together with mom Rebecca, dad Andrew, and brother George. The family normally does their parkrunning at Penistone parkrun. But for Lucy it was her first ever full 5K parkrun. Way to start out in style, Lucy!

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I was hoping for 160 parkrunners on Saturday for our 160th parkrun - and I thought we had it, until the sorting of the tokens proved that we were ONE token short!  If you have token #45, please bring it back. No questions asked! You will not have to walk the plank!

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Saturday’s parkrun had many milestones to celebrate, so let’s just get to it!

We celebrated our biggest group yet of official milestones.

  • 50-timers: Jim Cantwell, Sharlene Deskins, Neil Jograj, and Carly Mills
  • 100-timer: Steve Feld
  • 25th time volunteer: Cindy Feld

Steve and Cindy enjoyed their return to College Park. They first joined us on a rainy Christmas Eve in 2016. Steve was looking for a 5K race to complete his quest to do a race in every month, and found College Park parkrun. With miserable weather, it was our quietest day ever, with only 25 finishers. But Steve loved it! They kept coming back, becoming regular volunteers and team members. At the start of this year they moved to North Carolina to be closer to family. Now they’re regulars at Durham, NC parkrun. But they were happy to return to their “parkrun birthplace” for this milestone.

Jim and Carly both achieved the feat of setting a PB in their 50th parkrun. Nice!

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Congratulations to the following people for reaching these unofficial parkrun milestones:

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5-timers: Daniel Coile, Mariella McElhenny, Ed Pachico, Gwyneth McElhenny, and Theresa Catterton-Doherty

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10-timers: Kathy McFalls, Louis Green, and William Grunow

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25-timers: Brian Koen and Laurie Fisher

The parkrun bell didn’t stop ringing because of all the PBs!

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It’s impressive to see 10-year old Violet finishing as 2nd female. She has come a LONG way since she started running with us in 2017.

Jessica Gerbig continues to get faster while pushing a stroller.

Kathy McFalls is making great progress — she has gone from high 40s to almost cracking 40 minutes.

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Reese Madsen went from 41 to 38 minutes. Impressive!

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Zoe Phillips — 2 minute PB. Dad can only dream of that!

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Natasha Oliviera — quietly getting faster week by week. This was her 4th consecutive PB!

And Clarence Patterson has had 3 PB’s in three parkruns!

The things I like most about College Park parkrun, besides getting to wear my pirate hat, is the encouragement and camaraderie among friends and family. On Saturday, Chris Pruitt stormed around in 16-something. That’s pretty impressive, but what is really awesome is that his kids, Kara and Cole, finished their FIRST EVER 5K.

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Whether you are finishing at the head of the pack, or finishing your 5K at your pace, getting out and having fun on the trail is what we’re all about.

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Finally, I have to give a “shout-out” to all of the volunteers who helped on Saturday to make College Park parkrun #160 a huge success:

  • Golf course marshals: Hump Plotts and Matt Green
  • Turn around marshal:  Lisa Wilson
  • First Timers Briefing: Amy Duan  - Amy had her hands full with 22 first timers!  Wow!
  • Timekeepers: Erin Munsell (congrats on your marathon!!), Clare Imholtz
  • Finish Tokens: Cindy Feld
  • Barcode Scanners: Larry Washington, Tomas Marambio, and Janet Tate
  • Tail Walkers: Teresa Perdomo and Külli Crespin
  • Finish Line Photography: Katie Hirsche
  • Setup and Breakdown: Zoe Phillips
  • Token Sorters: Cotter Rosenberg, Duane Rosenberg, Alex Dystant, and Andrew, George and Lucy Parr.

If you’d like to wear a yellow vest and lend a hand at a parkrun, please reach out and let us know.

We're looking forward now to November parkruns. There's a lot to look forward to, as November will be our first ever month with SIX parkruns: that's 5 Saturdays plus our special extra Thanksgiving morning parkrun.

Lori Dominick

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140 Flags (Run Report #159)

To celebrate the third birthday of College Park parkrun we decorated cakes and pumpkin pies with a flag for each College Park parkrunner who has reached a parkrun milestone over the past 3 years.

There were 140 flags in all. They filled 6 cakes. We really did not expect there to be so many.

  • 70 red 50 shirts
  • 41 white 10 shirts (for juniors)
  • 11 black 100 shirts
  • 18 purple V25 shirts (for volunteering)

We’re grateful to Andrea, Hump, and Misha for baking cakes and pies. And to Andrea, and to my parents, Kath and Derrick Phillips, for helping to make all the flags. Making the flags turned out to be quite fun, as each name gave a chance to think about the person and their story and how they came to be a part of this community.

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We had Thanksgiving-themed pumpkin pie to go along with Andrea’s theme of “gratitude” for the anniversary event. At her pre-parkrun briefing Andrea thanked many different people who have helped to build the community over the past 3 years.

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PBpalooza!

Among this week’s 163 finishers were **47** PBs. We were sure that must be a record for CP parkrun. But not quite. There were 48 PBs on Sept 15th last year. … And there’s a connection.

About half of this week’s PBs came from the DeMatha High School cross-country team, who joined us for the second time this week. We didn’t know that they would be coming -- at parkrun you just show up (with a barcode) -- but we were happy to see them. They previously ran with us on 8/31, and their training must have been working out well, as almost all of them were faster this time out.

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The day with 48 PBs was similar. It was when Elizabeth Seton High School cross-country team made a return visit a few weeks after a pre-season time trial.

Among the DeMatha PBs was Ian Parsons, who dipped under 20 minutes for the first time, on his 76th parkrun. Nice job, Ian! Ian’s older brother Thomas didn’t quite reach his PB, but it was his 49th parkrun, so next time out he earns a nice red parkrun 50 shirt.

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Jayden Keels almost lost his age-group record last week to middle-schooler Nathan Widman. So this week he went out and took another minute from his record. The 11-14 record is now 18:06. Wow.

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And kudos to Stephen Camarano, who first joined us in early 2017. This week he not only set another PB, he also did his 9th parkrun. So next time out he earns a white parkrun 10 shirt.

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I cannot deny that I was feeling pretty good about the three PBs from Team Phillips. Zoe and his grandparents ALL set PBs this week. My parents have been traveling in Montana and Wyoming since they visited us one month ago. So it was probably the altitude training that made the difference!

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Ada Lee was impressive, taking a whole minute from her PB on her 27th parkrun.

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And Frank Filteau must be doing something right, as after two years without a PB, he has set a new PB twice in the past couple of weeks. That’s after 131 parkruns.

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Kudos to Jessica Gerbig, who achieved a rare feat. On her 17th visit to CP parkrun she beat the PB that she set waaaay back in our first event, 3 years ago. Better yet, this PB was set pushing a stroller. Normally we’re unsure whether an earlier time was set with/without a stroller. But in this case we’re fairly confident, as the PB is substantially older than the stroller passenger.

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And it’s not just the speed demons who were setting PBs this week. Judy Cantwell and her friend Ana Rivera joined us for the second time this week. We’re not sure whether they were concerned about PBs, but they both walked faster this time than last time out.

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And Reese Madsen and Elizabeth Cooper both had the distinction of setting a 1-second PB on their 7th time with us. Every little counts!

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First-timers and Visitors

There were 14 first-timers this week, to add to the nearly 2,500 people who have taken part in College Park parkrun since we started.

Kerry Callaghan has already volunteered a few times, but this was her first time running the course. She’s part of the crew from UMD’s School of Public Health that is trying out different roles at the event over the course of the semester. It turns out that Kerry’s a fairly speedy runner!

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Harvey Baker is the new Chief of Police in the Town of University Park. A couple of days ago he was quietly going about his business in town when he found Andrea, out on one of her nature walks. By some complete coincidence College Park parkrun came up in the conversation, and Andrea talked Harvey into joining us. We were very happy that he came along, together with his wife Zanetta. We hope that they will join us again!

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One of our first-timers this week brought along a first-time barkrunner. Hector Serra is another of the UMD SPH crew, and his mom Hilda came along this week, together with what one parkrunner described as “the perfect dog”. Welcome both!

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The DeMatha boys might have accounted for most of the earlier finishers this week, but it was first-timer Karen Kautz who hit the highest age-graded run of the day. Karen is in the 75-79 age group and she proceeded to take *12 minutes* from the previous age-group record, finishing in slightly over 30 minutes. Wow.

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Unusually for us, we had THREE parkrun tourists from the UK this week. Brothers Chris and John Smyth have done over 200 parkruns between them in the London area. This week they were visiting their cousin Maureen who lives in Bowie, MD. So imagine their good luck to find that CP parkrun was nearby. And they persuaded Maureen to come along too, and she enjoyed a walk on the trail with my mum.

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We also had a visit from Rachel Brown, who is based in Littleport, near Cambridge, UK. I know that part of the world fairly well, as it’s close to where I grew up. Let’s just say that our course may have seemed hilly compared to that area.

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One more visitor came as a very pleasant surprise. Vancouverite Susan H. has joined us a good few times over the past 2 summers while working at NASA. So she had never visited in the months with nicer weather. She is in DC for a short stay and she heard that it was our birthday, so she biked out from DC to join us. So good to see her again!

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Volunteers

Amy Duan tried out a new volunteer role this week, leading the first-timers briefing. This is a good role to try out if you want to volunteer and also run. Main role: make sure that everybody feels as welcome as possible.

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Debbie Levenson and Chris and Sam McGranahan have volunteered many times before -- they have been part of the CP parkrun team since the very beginning. It’s great to have their experience on hand. Sam tried out timekeeping with the parkrun Virtual Volunteer app. We’re hoping to switch more and more to using that, so that we can eventually dispense with dedicated hardware and wired connections. Garrett Day and Hector Serra were the UMD SPH volunteers this week. And Tomas Marambio wisely decided to volunteer instead of running this week, as he recovers from last week’s Chicago Marathon (big PB!).

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Misha Bernard and Külli Crespin were our tailwalkers and smile catchers. Abdur Rahman-Quadri also brought along his camera and took some great shots. Hump and Lisa expertly carried out the roles of being Hump and Lisa. Nobody does it better. Cotter Rosenberg, Alex Dystant, and Russ Dickerson sorted tokens while sipping coffee.

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And Andrea Zukowski led the show as Run Director for the umpteenth time. She thanked everybody else, and we all owe big thanks to Andrea for taking the initiative to create College Park parkrun.

What’s happening soon?

October 26th: We’re expecting a few milestones to celebrate in the coming weeks. As of now there are 6 CP parkrunners who have done 49 parkruns, and this week 4 people did their 97th.

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One celebration that is in store for next week is a double milestone for Steve and Cindy Feld. Steve and Cindy first joined us around the end of 2016 and became key members of the community, running and volunteering so many times. They later retired and moved to North Carolina, to be closer to family. But they will be back with us next week, when Steve will complete his 100th run, and Cindy will be volunteering for the 25th time. Yay!

November 3rd: yes, that’s a Sunday. We’ll be holding a meetup in the afternoon for parkrun teams from around the DMV region, to discuss ways that we can build on the existing parkrun communities to do more to serve the region, including new events, new connections, and broader collaboration. If you would like to take part, please drop me an email. My address is firstname.lastname@parkrun.com.

November 28th: Thanksgiving parkrun! Freest, friendliest turkey trot in the area.

January 1st: New Years parkrun. At the special time of 10:30am. Kensington parkrun will be going ahead at 8:30am, and you can do both if you are so inclined!

So much to look forward to!

Colin Phillips
Co-Event Director

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Worth Waiting For (Run Report #158)

A few really cool things happened this past parkrunday, October 12th 2019.

  • We completed the third year of College Park parkrun, our 158th event
  • We welcomed surprisingly many visitors, and hosted the parkrun USA Ambassaddors conference
  • Evan Hirsche zoomed down the trail to capture some amazing pictures for our photo album
  • 3-year old Mary Clare Schneider completed her first 5k under her own steam (unofficial, as you need to be 4 to have your own barcode), and we all melted
  • We enjoyed lovely early Fall weather
  • Zoe Phillips was one of 21 first-timers at College Park parkrun

... Few things better illustrate the fact that there are barriers to physical activity and that a supportive community can overcome it than Zoe’s story. And for me and Andrea, few experiences have been more rewarding than seeing Zoe take part this week.

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Really nobody has had a closer view of the development of College Park parkrun than Zoe. After all, Andrea and I are Zoe’s parents. And Zoe has volunteered many times before. CP parkrun is a safe place for Zoe. But between gender identity and mental and neurological challenges, organized sports has not seemed like the most inviting place.

But Zoe recently started running for health (and for school), and also started coming regularly to volunteer at CP parkrun. By volunteering regularly, Zoe got to know more people at the event, and spent time soaking up the welcoming vibe. This brought the confidence to take part as a runner.

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At the finish, Zoe declared: “I have never been cheered by so many people in my whole life!” And was filled with a glow of satisfaction. Running again next week? Absolutely!

We are thrilled to welcome all first timers, but I must admit this one was rather special for us. And we are so grateful to you all for creating the atmosphere that made Zoe feel very welcome.

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… and that’s not all. After 3 years of parkruns, we also welcomed for the first time our almost next door neighbors the Jackson family. They are like a second family to Zoe, and they have been following our Saturday morning activities from the very start. AND we also welcomed Kim Lopez, our lovely new across-the-street neighbor. It was like a block party!

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And not forgetting that Marvin Russell and Judy Barnes, our up the street neighbors who we met only through parkrun, BOTH set new PBs on their 114th and 80th parkruns, respectively. That’s impressive! For Judy, who is a very fast walker, it was her first time finishing under 40 minutes. Andrea was running to keep up.

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Three Years In

The first College Park parkrun was on October 15th 2016, so this was the final event of Year 3, event #158.

The participation totals for Year 3 are the biggest that we have seen so far, and almost double the numbers from Year 1..

  • 54 events
  • 1,292 runners and walkers completed 6,737 5Ks
  • 173 people volunteered 811 times
  • 957 new members of the community got a parkrun barcode

In total, CP parkrunners have now together covered almost 50,000 miles, that’s twice around the earth. Over 2,500 different people have taken part as runners and walkers, and 325 have volunteered.

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We are especially encouraged that College Park parkrun continues to grow in diversity. This year we welcomed many more walkers and walk-runners than last year. And we’re seeing more people from more backgrounds join us.

We are excited to see what Year 4 will bring!

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parkrun USA Ambassadors Meeting

Among this week’s first-timers were two people who I was especially happy to welcome to the Paint Branch Trail. I first met Laura Cornelissen and Drew Messinger in a hotel lobby in Boston MA on a snowy day in early 2017. They wanted to chat about starting a parkrun in Boston. We had recently done something similar in College Park, so we had a lot to talk about.

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One year later Laura presided over the launch of Jamaica Pond parkrun, the first parkrun in New England. I closely followed the process of getting the event started, as I was acting as the parkrun “ambassador” for the event. The Ambassadors are volunteers who help out with parkrun above the level of individual events.

In 2019 Laura and Drew got married in Worcester, UK, and their JP parkrun friends were there, taking in an extra parkrun, of course. And this week they were in town because they’re now helping out as parkrun USA ambassadors themselves, looking to support the further growth of parkrun communities in New England. Drew sped around our course, with Clark Ridge for company. And Laura took a more measured stroll, as she’s getting rather pregnant. So much to be happy about!

The ambassadors group (about 20 in number) fanned out across the various different DC-area parkruns. Most of them had visited College Park before, so they wanted to try out another one. But all met up at The Board and Brew afterwards. It was great to see a big crowd of locals and visitors chatting away.

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It was especially good to see Rory Murphy back in TB&B. He was a regular at CP in his first year in the US, later moving to start Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore, and now Delaware & Raritan Canal parkrun in New Jersey, with more on the way.

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Then it was off to UMD for a weekend of interesting discussions with dedicated parkrun volunteers, looking closely at the continued growth of parkrun in the US and how to ensure safety, stability, and scalability as the growth continues. When we started meeting on the Paint Branch Trail in early 2016 the 5th US parkrun event had just started downtown at Fletcher’s Cove. Next weekend (10/26) Andrea will be away in Knoxville, TN supporting the launch of Third Creek Greenway parkrun, the 42nd US event. And there are many more in the works.

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Visitors

We don’t normally see many visitors at CP parkrun. It’s our special secret. But this week we had quite a few. In addition to the ambassadors …

Chris and Leonie McNeill visited us from Australia, where they normally do their parkrunning at Jells parkrun near Melbourne.

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Closer to home, we were happy to welcome back Vivienne, Natalie, and Autumn Miller from Leakin Park parkrun. What brought them to town? Vivienne’s brother Euan is responsible for parkrun Canada and he was in town for the conference, and so it was a great chance for a meetup with his nieces.

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Team Ross-Coomes, Stephanie, Ian, and Henry were with us all the way from Kensington parkrun. Henry first visited us when he was barely 2 weeks old, so it was good to see him back on the trail.

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And Sharon Bollers brought along her mom Joy, from Guyana, for a nice walk on the trail. Wonderful!

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And Imogen Davidson White took me by surprise by appearing unexpectedly. Imogen worked with me at UMD about ten years ago. She has been living and working in Prague for most of the time since then. But she was in town briefly, staying with an old friend who happens to be a parkrunner. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her before the start.

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And more …

3-year old Mary Clare completed the entire 5K under her own steam. Adorable!

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Countless people set new PBs. Including Nathan Widman, who left almost all of the grownups in the dust, improving his time to 19:14. And Nathan’s dad Andrew, who set his 6th consecutive PB!

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We were super happy to welcome Sahana Jayaraman as a first-time parkrunner this week. Last week she was with us working on her article for The Diamondback. She enjoyed that so much that she wanted to come back and run with us. Perfect!

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We had one milestone this week: Julian Gordon joined the 10 club. Nice job, Julian!

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And we had a wonderful crew of volunteers … of course. Lisa Wilson, Hump Plotts, Xinzi He and Kerry Callaghan were out on the trail. At the finish Darrell Stanaford, Svetlana Stanaford, Sma McGranahan, Debbie Levenson, and Saul Goldberg kept things running smoothly, under the watchful eye of run director for the day Chris McGranahan. And Evan Hirsche took some fantastic photos along the trail, which you can enjoy in our photo album here.

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Thank you to all! We’re very much looking forward to this week’s 3rd birthday celebration at College Park parkrun #159. Rumors of cake (or pumpkin pie, or both) may be accurate.

Colin

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Coming Together at CP parkrun (Run Report #157)

The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) originally known as “Maryland Agricultural College,” was chartered in 1856 and held its first classes in 1859.  The city of College Park, Maryland was incorporated in 1945, but its neighborhoods—Berwyn, Old Town, Lakeland, Calvert Hills, and others—were developed starting in the 1880s, up and down the edge of the B&O Railroad line.

Long before roads, bridges, and buildings were here to obstruct our view, this region’s rain water flowed through our two local creeks, the Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch, beginning a winding route down to the Northeast Branch, to the Anacostia, to the Potomac, and finally into the Chesapeake Bay.

Every Saturday, parkrunners meet up at 9:00am on the Paint Branch Trail, close to the spot where the waters of the Paint Branch and the Little Paint Branch join forces in their journey to the sea. This area, it so happens, is also near where the residential and business neighborhoods in the northern part of College Park meet up to the edges of the University.

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Although parkrunners arriving by car might not notice it, they are actually crossing right over the Paint Branch as they come down the one-way bridge from Route 1.

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As parkrunners assemble at the starting line, the Paint Branch is out of sight behind the trees on the right.  But as we walk or run the course, we gradually get to see more and more water. We catch our first glimpse of the Paint Branch as we pass under the University Boulevard overpass.

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We can’t see the exact spot where the two branches converge because there’s a golf course in the way. But just past the golf course, about one mile into the parkrun, we cross two little bridges in quick succession—the first one crosses the Paint Branch, the second crosses the Little Paint Branch.

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Our view of the water gets better and better as we continue toward our turn-around pylon. The last segment of our outbound course follows close alongside the Little Paint Branch.

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Those who go to coffee or breakfast at the Board and Brew after parkrun can get there by following the trail south into UMD. There we have great views of the creek after the waters of the two branches have joined forces.

I was honored to serve as run director for event 157 at CP parkrun. I don’t have any full-time connection to the University or the City of College Park, but College Park is special for me because my daughter graduated from UMD, and a couple times over the years I have taught courses for UMD as an adjunct instructor. More recently, I have enjoyed Tuesday track night at UMD’s Kehoe Track with the Prince George’s Running Club.

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When I come to CP parkrun, I always look forward to seeing many familiar, friendly faces.  These include many who are affiliated with UMD—faculty, students, and staff, and also many who have no connection to the University but live in College Park and nearby communities, as well as regulars who come from farther afield.

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As I reflected on this week’s parkrun, I started thinking about how our course intertwines the Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch. It occurred to me that the joining of these two streams make a nice metaphor for how CP parkrun brings together people from the university and city communities.

This semester we have a group of students from UMD’s School of Public Health volunteering at CP parkrun.  This week, a big thank you to Brianna on Tokens, Hector and Luciano on setup and tail walking, and Matt as Hump protégé crossing marshal. We love to see you here, and are happy to see you come back.

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This week we were excited to welcome Sahana, city beat reporter for the Diamondback, the UMD student-run newspaper, along with photographer Joe. Sahana is writing a piece on CP parkrun, and this week had a chance to interview many regular participants and volunteers.  We hope her story raises awareness of CP parkrun in the campus community and attracts more students to participate. Perhaps one day we will look back at event 157 as the “watershed” moment in town-gown relations on the Paint Branch!

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A big CP parkrun welcome to first timers James and Christian, Abel, Mark, Isaiah, and Kuoyuan.  Kuoyuan is a senior at UMD studying software engineering. We hope to see you back!

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The much cooler weather this Saturday reminded us that autumn has arrived (fifty-five degrees as we walked to the Board and Brew!) and the advent of fall brought in a bumper crop of official milestones, unofficial milestones, and personal bests.

Big time kudos to Elmer, Bud, and Collette for making it to fifty!  (parkruns, that is, lest there be any confusion…) Elmer celebrated his 50th by bringing protein bars and water for everyone!  Thank you Elmer!

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We brought out the purple superhero cape for Neil, who volunteered for the 25th time!  Neil has completed 49 parkruns and very soon will be getting a new red shirt to go with the new purple one. Thanks for being a part of CP parkrun, Neil and Julie.

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Congratulations to four new members of our unofficial 25-timers club: “Speedster” Sam Phipps (first finisher 20 times!), Tomas Marambio, Rodney Green, and Michael Osman.

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Congratulations to our six new 10-timers: Xiao Ji, Kim Nickens, Lloyd Rawley, Noah Dowell, Matthew Dernoga, and Jason Petralia!

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We had thirty-one (!) returning participants setting PB times this week! Ice cream is on me, a different flavor for each one of you!

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This week’s parkrun was supported by 22 volunteers, representing the whole spectrum of the CP parkrun community.

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We have seen a bit of a surge in the volunteering spirit of late at CP, bringing us, so to speak, an “extra helping” of cheerful perfection to our well-oiled volunteer machine.

Token sorting this week was tackled by a crack team including a UMD professor of atmospheric science, a mayor of a nearby city, an accounting analyst, and a UMD economics PhD student who moonlights as a world-class competitor in Rubik’s cube. If those tokens are found to be out of order next week I’ll eat my new apricot UMD Terps hat.

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Speaking of extra helpings, Katie and Evan took some great photos this week.

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Happy trails!  See you next week on the Paint Branch.

-Stewart

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