Wombling (Virtual Report 53)

We like to say that we aim to leave the park and trail in better shape than we found it. We certainly succeeded on that front this week. We had around 30 parkrunners helping to clean up Acredale Park and the Paint Branch Trail, as part of a North College Park Community Cleanup. Not only that, we even found Mary Hicks, hundreds of miles away in Rockford, IL, taking similar action for her own neighborhood.

Separately, Lisa Wilson is using her engineering know-how to ensure that the trail is as safe and sound as possible.

It’s tempting to think that we simply abandoned the park and the trail in early 2020 and will return to find whatever might have happened to it during the pandemic. Quite the opposite. This community has been watching over it throughout, and when we return in larger numbers, hopefully fairly soon, we’ll find it in even better shape than before.

Now let’s see what everybody got up to for CPVp #53.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Just some of the cleanup crew. In College Park ... and in Illinois

Facts and Figures

  • 178 virtual parkrunners
  • 750 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 1 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 3 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 5 new 50-TIMER badges earned
  • 15 barkrunners
  • 34 not-so-virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: Many of you recently participated in a fundraiser for the College Park Community Food Bank, which has been helping to support hundreds of local families throughout the pandemic. We are happy to pass along the news that the campaign raised $2,550. That’s fantastic news, far more than expected. Thanks to all who participated, and to those of you who are volunteering at CPCFB or in many other ways during the pandemic.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 53

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Sister act: Meridith and Adrien took a run together on the Paint Branch Trail for the virtual Georgia Aquarium 5K (Meridith is rather into dolphins), and then joined the cleanup.

We’re Wombles Now!

A couple of weeks ago when Elizabeth Sheridan visited Wimbledon Common in London for her CPVp, Louise Godley reminded us of the cultural importance, for Brits of, ahem, a certain age, of Wombles. These are fictional, pointy snouted characters whose mission in life is to pick up trash that they find around Wimbledon Common.

This week Rach Cousen scored bonus points for naturally using “womble” in a sentence (as a verb, no less) when she described our park clean-up efforts as “wombling”. We hadn’t thought of the cleanup in those terms, but we’ll take it!

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Three Wombles

It was exciting to see a gaggle of parkrunners at Acredale Park, awaiting further instructions. It was almost, just almost, like old times. But instead of reminding people to thank Hump as they ran past, Andrea was doling out trash bags, grabbers, and face masks.

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Almost like old times at the park

Even so, it was great to see folks who we haven’t seen in person in months or in some cases in more than a year.

… But it was also great that in so many cases we weren’t simply reconnecting after a year away, because we have been connecting weekly all along.

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Neha and Yogarshi did some wombling after their run

Run Tunes

A number of us were enjoying a new specially curated playlist created by parkrunner and music maven Bud Verge. This week’s theme: songs about running. You can access it on Spotify here (it works with a free account).

The past couple of weeks Bud shared the list with a few CPVp friends on social media. It was fun to compare notes with others who had been running or walking at different times, but who had the same soundtrack. If others are interested in joining the fun, and if there are more of these in future weeks -- Bud’s out for a couple of months with a stress fracture, alas -- we can find ways to share more broadly.

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Stewart was fueled by Bud's playlist this week

Location, Location

Angela Gentile & TJ Hool did their CPVp in the Badlands in South Dakota. While Angela hiked, TJ came across a group of rams during his run. Bighorn sheep have made a dramatic recovery over the last century, from a population of 20,000 in 1940, to 80,000 in the US today. Although the Badlands Bighorn subspecies (or variation of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn subspecies - taxonomists disagree) that originally occupied the area is now extinct, Bighorn Sheep were reintroduced to the park starting in 1964. TJ came across one of the bachelor herds, which the male lambs join at around 2-4 years old. Female lambs, however, will stay with their mothers’ herd for their whole lives. The sheep graze on vegetation and retreat into the cliffs to avoid predators and digest their tough meals in their four chambered stomachs.

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That looks a little hilly

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Bighorn!

In recent months the National Mall here in DC has been even more inaccessible than The Badlands. Something to do with an insurrection. So Rachel Lukens was very happy to get out to run on the paths along the mall this week.

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It's open again!

Meanwhile in Michigan, Cory Kind helped us to uncover an interesting rabbit hole of Big10 history. Cory took the pups for a jaunt in Gabriel Richard Park, next to the Detroit River. They found this lovely field of daffodils. Virtual volunteer Heather Sisan commented that her husband attended a high school of the same name. So we figured that this dude must have done something notable.

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Walker and Coney checking out the smells in Gabriel Richard Park

Sure enough, in 1817 he was the co-founder of the Catholepistemiad of Michigania.

Well, it turns out that the name didn’t stick, but the institution did. We now know it better as the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). Richard was a French Roman Catholic priest whose first role in the US was as a mathematics teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, before heading off to make all kinds of important contributions in the then Northwest Territory.

Remaining with the Big10 theme, Ann Robinson, Michael Phipps and their crew from Mansfield, OH parkrun were due to take part in an annual 4-miler that ends at the 50-yard line of the Ohio State University football stadium in Columbus. But that wasn’t happening, because of you-know-what, so they chose instead to do a 4-miler on OSU’s Mansfield campus, which we confess we weren’t aware of. Cool idea!

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But of course they have a buckeye mascot. His name is Brutus, apparently.

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed THREE first-timers: Sam McGranahan, Ankur Holz, Aileen Kroll. See our “looking back” segment for a vintage picture of Sam outsprinting our mayor. Ankur joined us from Howard County for the first time. And Aileen is a long-time CPp regular who joined us for the cleanup project -- it made us very happy to see her bike chained to the railing at Acredale Park for the first time in a long while.

This week’s sole new 5-timer was Kayla Hayes, a regular CPp runner and volunteer over the years, often supporting her mom Jackie Hayes.

We had THREE new 10-timers this week: Christina McNamee-Mahaffey, Sharyn Gordon, and Michelle Brandy.

In Christina’s case she was doing her first ever 10K, and we are thrilled to hear this. Christina was a bit apprehensive when she first joined us at CP parkrun about 2 years ago. That’s understandable, as a big crowd of runners can be a bit daunting. But she quickly figured out how we roll, and also joined as a volunteer a few times.

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Christina's first ever 10K!

Michelle was enjoying nature near her home in DC. And Sharyn was enjoying the scenery from the comfort of her treadmill.

This week’s new 25-timers were Diane Rosenberg, Michael Iati, and Ann Robinson. Ann was part of the Mansfield OH crew mentioned above, and it’s so good to see that she’s back to running after a nasty fall last September. Michael now rarely misses his CPVp jaunt together with Dom Blom and their barkrunner Roo. And by our calculations Diane becomes the SEVENTH member of Team Rosenberg to join the 25-timer club. Impressive!

Finally, this week, we saw 5 more members of the 50-timer club … the one we thought we’d never need.

  • Dale Morey
  • Jen Matis
  • Bonnie McClellan
  • Eli (barkrunner)
  • Ellen Oberholtzer

We’re delighted that Dale has been joining us weekly during the pandemic. He now has done many more CPVps than CPps.

Jen this week yet again covered further than she ever had in her life before, around 11.5 miles. We figured that she must be gearing up to try a half marathon. But no, it’s something more ambitious. She’s looking to celebrate her 50th birthday in June by covering 50K in the space of 3 days!

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Eleven miles. And lilacs!

Bonnie McClellan was out on the trail early as usual, together with husband Mike and with Anna Tinnemore. Bonnie and Mike now have BOTH completed 50 CP parkruns AND 50 CP Virtual parkruns … and Bonnie is the younger of the two at 81.

And not forgetting barkrunner Eli and his human Ellen. Eli is now the very first barkrunner to join our 50-timer club, and he’s more of a star than he realizes. His travels with Ellen during the pandemic have opened our eyes to the many beautiful and cool things right on our doorstep in the communities along the Streetcar 82 Trolley Trail. This week they were enjoying the blossoms of a dogwood tree (how appropriate!) by the Hyattsville courthouse.

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Dog with dogwood

Beyond the CPVp badges, a couple of other things jumped out at us.

Patrick Wojahn was feeling so energized that he went and blazed his standard 4.6 mile route around North College Park. In fact, he not only beat his fastest CPVp time yet, we think he was also faster than his CPp 5K PB … which he set 4 years ago this weekend.

Larry Washington’s 70th birthday can’t come fast enough right now, as he seems to be practically on fire. If his distance measurements are correct, then his run this week was significantly faster than his best ever parkrun 5K time, set back in 2017.

Andrea Zukowski was feeling pretty happy to run 6 miles, further than she has in a long time. She was inspired to do so by her team of Tuesday morning run buddies from Prince George’s Running Club, who were teaming up to cover a full marathon distance between themselves yesterday.

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Andrea completed her leg of the team marathon

Keaton Ellis was feeling pretty good about dipping below 20 minutes for the first time in a while. He confessed that his route was a little gravity-assisted. But according to the rules of CPVp, we really don’t care, as long as you have fun (and stay safe).

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It's all, er, uphill from here, Keaton

… And last but not least, there’s no milestone quite like simply being able to run again. This week it was Stefano Gazzano’s turn to re-start running after surgery. Congratulations, Stefano!

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Stefano is back to running, with Paolo Giulio for company

Not-so-Virtual Volunteers

This week we’re including all the park cleaners among the volunteer crew. We’re labeling them as Wombles (see above). We’re also introducing a new volunteer role of “DJ”, in recognition of Bud Verge’s curated playlist. Thank You to all!

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

Wombles: Judy Barnes, Gloria Cottman, Külli Crespin, Ginny Fromel, Barbara Gusack, Adrien Harrison, Clare Imholtz, Neha Joshi, Aileen Kroll, Lizzie (barkrunner), Stewart Mayhew, Colin Phillips, Meridith Phillips, Calvin Ridge, Clark Ridge, Felix Ridge, Violet Ridge, Hannah Russell, Marvin Russell, Erin Schneider, James Schneider, Joshua Schneider, Mary Clare Schneider, Samantha Schneider, Joanne Smith, Yogarshi Vyas, Lisa Wilson, Patrick Wojahn, Chris X, Andrea Zukowski

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

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Another womble

Barkrunners

The barkrunners all stayed home for a nap this week.

Just kidding! With mild weather and spring smells all around, it was a perfect day to be a barkrunner.

Even Marlow looked a little less put out to head out for his walk this week.

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Pakora was frolicking along the trail in College Park with Pratyush Tiwary, and he got to pause for a little stream play along the way.

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Lizzie came along for the park cleanup project, and was excited to meet LOTS of new friends.

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Lizzie greeting some of her fans

And in Michigan, Jasper and Whistler took part in an experiment in course measurement, together with Tim and Jeri Keer. We think that one of these Strava tracks is from a barkrunner (or at least a human with a barkrunner), and the other is from a human. Your guess is as good as ours.

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Squirrels?

Back in College Park, Shackleton is missing his humans, who were off adventuring in S Dakota. But he was not going to miss out on his CPVp. Thankfully, Kyle McCormick took him out for a stroll, and the world is a happy place again.

Looking Back

One year ago, in April 2020, we were starting to get itchy feet.

We held our first virtual coffee meetup on April 11th, with around 40 in attendance. Clearly, folks were missing seeing each other on a Saturday morning.

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Back when Zoom felt like a new thing

Then, on April 18th we experimented with a Saturday morning social media post, encouraging people to chime in to tell us what they had been up to. We were really encouraged by the interest that this generated, and that led us to start poking around to see how we might build on this in future weeks.

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Our first toe in the water, 2 weeks before the start of CPVp

Later that same week Governor Hogan released the first plan for the staged reopening of activities in Maryland. That’s when it became clearer to us that we weren’t likely to be back to in person events for a while. So that is when we set about making more concrete plans for College Park Virtual parkrun.

One year earlier, in the more innocent times of early 2019, it must have been Easter weekend, as we found tailwalker Eden Gray sporting bunny ears.

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Easter bunny!

Many parkrunners who are regular CPVpers were setting PBs.

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PB for Lucy on this weekend in 2019

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PB for Melanie, toocatherine-spirito-2019-web

... And Catherine!

We welcomed first-timers Cordell Eddings. Yes, both of them! (One of them goes by CJ.)

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The tunnel of trees was looking great in the spring, as always.

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And Lisa Wilson was pretty happy to get finish token #100 on a day when she was also sporting her 100-timer shirt.

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In 2018 for our 79th weekly event we found many regulars celebrating speedy PBs. Maybe it’s the April weather that puts an extra spring in people’s stride.

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Super speedy time for Win Persina on this weekend in 2018

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PBs for Nick and Janice on this weekend in 2018

John Wilkerson’s barkrunner was especially eager to make it to the finish.

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Hold on tight!

But it was just a great morning to be out on the trail, whether or not you were in a hurry.

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It was Emily's birthday this weekend -- happy birthday, Emily!

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Success!

In April 2017 we had a crowd of 94 finishers, which at the time was a record turnout for a regular Saturday. We were pretty giddy about that, to be honest.

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Carlos Gough reached the 10-timer milestone. Carlos now has well over 50 parkruns under his belt. And he dipped under 30 minutes for the first time that week. (Keep up, mom!)

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This guy has grown

First-timers that day included John Ramsey. John has barely missed a week in the 4 years since then. On that day he finished in 31:xx, and he has gotten substantially faster since then.

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John's first parkrun (of 139 "classic" and 53 virtual)

Also appearing as a first-timer that day is Judy Barnes. It was by no means Judy’s first visit, but it was her first time going all the way to Lisa, with a barcode. Judy has now been stuck on 98 in-person parkruns for over a year, so we’re looking forward to making a big fuss over her on the second week after our return.

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Judy's first official finish

The Foley Family were also first-timers that weekend. They became very regular runners and volunteers in the following years.

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And we also welcomed Chris Van Vlack for the first time. Back then his parkrun PB was 27:xx. Extra training with Zak Mellen during the pandemic has made that feel like a stroll in the park these days.

Patrick Wojahn set a PB that day of 21:08, helped by a ferocious sprint with Sam McGranahan. That remains Patrick’s PB … but such is his pandemic fitness that he eclipsed that pace this weekend, on a run that was half as long again.

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Seems like Patrick's PB is ready for an update

Another of the many PBs that day was by Andrea Zukowski, who finished in 25:56, a time that she would find hard to fathom these days.

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Bridget helps Andrea to a PB

Our favorite sprint finish picture from that day is Yancira Amaya and Cliff Bedore. We don’t recall who finished first of those two. But we do remember that they were smiling broadly seconds later.

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We love this!

Looking Ahead

Last week in this column we said that the remarkable pace of vaccinations is leading us to think more seriously about the restart of in person events. Not right now, but maybe by the end of May, around Memorial Day. We looked closely at how vaccinations are on track to becoming a game changer for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at events like ours.

This week we have just a few updates on our situation.

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David's crew was running up and down hills with heavy stuff again this week

There are 4 basic criteria that parkrun HQ sees as prerequisites for restarts. We agree with all of them.

  1. Compliance: follow government rules on gatherings
  2. Safety: minimize risk of virus transmission
  3. Participant intent: don’t return if most participants and volunteers aren’t ready
  4. Community acceptance: be mindful of community comfort levels

Compliance: No updates on this front.

We do not have a permit from Prince George’s Parks & Recreation, and the county guidelines have not changed recently. That said, the parks department is organizing more and more group activities of its own, it is promoting a 5K event of its own at National Harbor on May 1st, and the county’s “50% capacity on everything” ruling could possibly apply to us.

We suspect that if we start to see clear effects of vaccinations on reducing COVID-19 cases in the DMV then the conditions for gaining permission will improve.

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Calvin proudly demonstrates a homemade grabber that Violet built

Safety: We remain in a “not out of the woods yet” situation, but developments this week still point to us being in a strong position for safe outdoor gatherings by Memorial Day weekend.

  • COVID-19 cases in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County are flat over the past 2 weeks, at around 1 in 6,000 residents testing positive per day. There are increasing hints that Maryland’s fourth wave has crested, and that we are headed for a sustained decline.
  • UMD’s mass testing yielded 11 positives from a total of 6,400 tests in the past week. Since everybody gets tested every 2 weeks, the test positivity rate of < 0.2% is a good estimate of prevalence of the virus on the campus.
  • Maryland’s vaccination program continues to move remarkably quickly, 500,000 received a shot in Maryland in just the past 7 days. That’s 1 in 9 adults. Now 55% of adults have had at least one shot.
  • Although the pause in the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccinations this week was a disappointment, its impact on the rollout in our area should be minimal. Supplies of the highly effective 2-shot mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) are plentiful.
  • It looks increasingly likely that UMD will soon announce a vaccine mandate, as a number of other local colleges have already done. This means that vaccination levels in College Park are likely to be extremely high, in light of the size of the 50,000 person campus community.

At some point the rate of vaccinations will plateau, due to a shortage of willing recipients. We do not know when that will be. But we remain confident that the DMV is on track for a high vaccination rate. We also remain confident that by late May almost everybody in our area who wants a vaccine will be able to access one.

This means that by late May, communities whose members overwhelmingly want to protect themselves and others using the vaccines will have very high levels of protection. 

We believe that our community fits this description. We also meet for brief periods of time, in wide open outdoor spaces, with ample opportunities for spreading out. We are on track to be in a very safe situation.

Recent relevant resources:

A year into the pandemic, it’s even more clear that it’s safer to be outside. Washington Post, April 13th, 2021. This journalism is supported by a review in the Journal of Infectious Diseases from late November, which overlaps with a study on outdoor/indoor safety commissioned by parkrun.

What can I do? A calculator. This is a useful piece by Emily Oster, Brown University economist and COVID data maven. It runs through basically the same exercise that we did last week. Except that Emily focuses on small indoor gatherings for families, whereas we were focused on mid-sized outdoor gatherings. The bottom line is the same, though: vaccines are a game changer.

Vaccination progress in the US. This graphic, from the wonderful Our World in Data, shows the percentage of the population that has received at least one COVID vaccine shot in many of the states that have parkrun events. It’s striking that during January and February the rollout was closely matched across all states. But in March and April they have separated along relatively predictable lines. This is not a matter of supply. It’s a matter of uptake. It’s a reason to feel optimistic about our situation in the DMV, if not about the US as a whole.

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At first it was all about supply and delivery. Increasingly the action is in demand.

We do want to acknowledge one flaw in the calculations that we shared last week. It does not change our conclusions, but we want to be transparent. We said that vaccinated people are FAR less likely than others in the community to be infectious. This is accurate. We also said that if 1 in 500 unvaccinated individuals in the community are currently infectious, then the rate among vaccinated people should be 1 in 5,000 or less. Also accurate. The misstep was that we treated the overall community prevalence of the virus as the equivalent to the prevalence among unvaccinated people. That’s roughly true when few in the community are vaccinated, but it becomes less true once we reach high levels of vaccination. Simple example: if the overall prevalence is 1 in 500 people in a community where 50% have received a highly effective vaccine, then the vast majority of the infectious people are in the unvaccinated half of the population. So their prevalence would be around 1 in 250.

Practically speaking, though, this tweak makes little difference to our projections, as long as there is high uptake of vaccines among CP parkrunners.

(Emily Oster’s calculator had the same issue as our calculations. We pointed it out to her and she made an update.)

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Spring blossoms (h/t Kristine Rogers)

Participant intent. We know that there are many CP parkrun volunteers, walkers, and runners who would be happy to show up to an in person event today. We’re sure that there are also many who would not. We’re unsure of the relative size of these groups.

Since there is no plan to return right away, what matters more is how people will be feeling over the next month or two.

One development this week is that parkrun HQ has stepped up its surveying of US parkrunners via their “return to parkrun” email survey, after a hiatus for most over the past few months.

We encourage you to fill out the surveys from parkrun if you receive one, even if you have received one before. They are being sent to the same sample of US parkrunners regularly, to track shifts in attitudes over time. Unfortunately, the results are likely to be biased. Most people don’t respond to email surveys, and those that respond to surveys about the return of parkrun are more likely to be those who are eager for it to return sooner rather than later.

Although it’s hard for us to have an accurate picture of sentiment in our community, we do have the benefit of staying in regular contact throughout the pandemic, and being as transparent as possible about plans.

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Barkrunner Gifford enjoying the trails around Glen Echo, MD

Local acceptance. It’s not at all easy to track community sentiment around the return of events like ours. But a really good proxy is to see what else is happening in the area, and to ensure that we are not an outlier.

In that context, two developments this week involve plans for activities that will be far more visible in College Park than CP parkrun.

First, UMD announced this week that on May 21st it will host two in person graduation ceremonies outside at Maryland Stadium. This will be the first big in person event at UMD since Winter 2020, with numbers that vastly surpass the turnout at CP parkrun.

Second, UMD this week released its plans for a return to mostly normal operations over the course of the summer. This means that there will be a steady ramp up of activities on the campus over the course of the summer, ahead of a likely big surge in late summer.

None of these steps guarantee broad acceptance. But they do imply that there will soon be other, much larger activities happening in town.

Coming Attractions. Our summer plans are uncertain. But we know exactly what we will be doing the next couple of Saturday mornings.

April 24th - Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, but some folks plan to be out next Saturday morning chasing or pacing a fast 5K time along the Paint Branch Trail for CPVp #54. Clark Ridge and Sam Phipps both tested out their 18-minute pacing skills in the past week, so you can maybe guess what’s being planned. … And as always there will be plenty of people out there simply enjoying a pleasant run or walk along the trail.

May 1st - it’s our birthday! CPVp #55 will also be our 1st (and only?) birthday. We’re not yet sure what we’ll be doing to celebrate, but we won’t be letting that day pass unnoticed.

Also May 1st (or thereabouts) - Azalea Classic 5K. This annual University Park ES fundraiser is a local favorite. Normally we have to choose between CP parkrun and the UP race. But this year there’s no need to choose, because the Azalea Classic is a virtual event. In fact, if anybody is looking for a good place to do an accurately measured 5K route for their virtual AC, we know of a good place to do that!

Until next time

Your CPVp Team

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Adrian and Stella Dover picked up duck eggs along their park walk

 

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See you next week ... from Lara in Berlin, Germany

 

Worth a Shot (Virtual Report 52)

This week was our 52nd College Park Virtual parkrun. That’s crazy! We didn’t expect to still be doing this. We also didn’t expect that we’d learn so much and benefit so much from it.

But we’re increasingly looking forward to what comes next. We’re not going to abandon those of you who are physically far away from College Park. We love having you as a part of our community. But we’re also excited about the possibility of seeing more of you in person in the weeks and months ahead.

This week we saw around 40 CP parkrunners in person, either on the Paint Branch Trail or at the outdoor coffee meetup. That alone was wonderful. Better yet, most of these people are at least partially vaccinated, or will be within a few days. Since the start of 2021 we have been reluctant to write much about vaccines, because access has been a sensitive issue. But now we’re excited that things are changing FAST, and it will make a big difference to our lives.

Also, we like spring. This year we’re liking it a LOT.

So let’s get down to looking at what you all got up to at CPVp #52.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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If you're a Baltimore Ravens fan, you'll know what this means. (It's ok, we had to look it up)

Facts and Figures

  • 193 virtual parkrunners
  • 875 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 3 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 0 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 10 new 50-TIMER badges earned
  • 19 barkrunners
  • 8 virtual volunteers

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 52

Stat(s) of the week: In the first 10 days of April, 700,000 Marylanders (from a population of 6 million) got a COVID-19 vaccine shot. We find this number staggering, and it is hugely important to how our next couple of months will look. But you’re going to need to read our “Looking Ahead” section for more about that.

On a more personal level, we know that a lot of you were among those 700,000, or are among the people who will be getting a vaccine dose in the next 10 days. We are really happy for you. And we are just as happy for ourselves, as each new vaccine shot moves ALL of us closer to the resumption of normal life.

If you’re outside the US and are facing a longer wait until getting a vaccine, we are thinking of you also. We very much hope that you’ll see a turnaround in vaccine delivery similar to what we have seen here in Maryland in the past two months.

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Join us for coffee some Saturday at the Discovery District Park. It's social, it's as distanced as you want it to be. And most are now vaccinated.

Newsflash!

Did you see the story about CPVp this week in The Diamondback, the UMD student-run newspaper?

College Park parkrun garners community engagement despite adjustments amid pandemic

If you’re a regular reader of these reports, you won’t learn too much from the story. The headline kind of misses the point. But it’s nice to know that we’re on the radar.

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Carly was featured in the Diamondback article

Park & Trail Cleanup Next Saturday

We are teaming up next Saturday with the Hollywood Elementary School PTA on their North College Park Community Cleanup project, next Saturday morning (April 17th). One of their sites is Acredale Park and the Paint Branch Trail. We are very invested in those locations, and we even “adopted” the trail. So let’s do this!

To take part, please express interest via this online form. The start time is listed as 9am, but we’re sure there should be some flexibility to fit around a run or walk on the trail. Equipment will be provided, and COVID-related measures will be in place.

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Location, Location

Jackie Hayes accomplished a unique double this week. She did a 5K run on the Anacostia parkrun course in SE DC. She also biked along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail from there to College Park and back … which turned out to be exactly a marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

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26.2 miles from the Anacostia parkrun course to College Park and back

Heather Sisan and her crew took a hike along the Underground Railroad Trail in Sandy Spring, and discovered the eponymous sandy spring itself. Quakers settled in Maryland in the 1720s, and in 1777 the church internally outlawed its members from enslaving people. Sandy Spring, near Olney, MD, was (and continues to be) an important Quaker community in the state, and through much of the 19th century the town was an important way point along the Underground Railroad, an informal network of routes and safe resting places that helped enslaved African Americans escape to the north.

One prominent Sandy Spring Quaker from the 19th century was Benjamin Hallowell, who in 1859 was (very briefly) the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College … now known to us as the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Heather's crew at the source of the "sandy spring" in Sandy Spring, MD

John Cousen may have set a record with our slowest 5K yet. He covered the 3.1 miles in the span of six and a half hours. He was multitasking, as he was digging and refilling his driveway at the same time.

Diana Gough was on the road in Huntington, WV, where she visited the memorial to an event that we hadn’t heard of previously. On Nov 14, 1970 a Southern Airways DC-9 charter flight crashed on approach to landing, killing all 75 on board, all connected to the Marshall University football team. It was the worst sports-related air tragedy in the US.

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Paying respects

Pete Poremba was navigating around amusement rides and swimming pools in the Run for Home race in New Philadelphia, OH. The race starts and finishes in Tuscarora Park, which appears to have an adorable collection of vintage amusement rides.

Finally, Stefano Gazzano is taking things slowly these days, as he recovers from surgery. So he took in some sights on his walk in Civitavecchia, Italy. He sent us this picture of a display of yellow umbrellas above a main street in the city, highlighting the issue of violence against women,

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Umbrellas over the Via Trieste in Civitavecchia, Italy

Looking out for each other

So much evidence of that around us this week.

In Greensboro, NC, Brian Maas was getting in the miles with some friends as part of a fundraiser called Push Ups for Playgrounds that aims to fund a playground for an underserved elementary school.

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Push ups for playgrounds crew

Bud Verge is out injured for a few weeks with a stress fracture (nooo!), so he turned his extensive musical talents to creating a Spotify playlist for the week, specially for virtual parkrunners. A number of us enjoyed it during our runs or walks, and are feeling our musical horizons broadened already.

Sam Phipps laid down a speedy 17:55 5K clocking this week. Why so? He’s on pacing duty for another time trial coming up on April 24th on the Paint Branch Trail -- regular readers may be able to guess what this is about -- and so he wanted to ensure that he has the pace that he’ll need.

Those of you who have been on the Paint Branch Trail in the past year will know that there’s a stretch of trail (by the “Dead Marshes”) that floods much more easily now than it did before the new connector trail was built. In the winter it also became icy and dangerous on a few occasions. Kudos to Lisa Wilson for working with folks at Prince George’s Parks on plans to fix this. Many of you mostly know Lisa as the smiling face at the turnaround. She’s also a pretty good engineer, and we lose count of the number of times that her expertise has helped to keep our trail in great shape.

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That flooded section was twice as deep on Sunday. But help is on the way!

Finally, we shared last week the sad news of the passing of Adam Styron, a young parkrunner from Lillie and Livonia parkruns in Michigan. Members of those two communities had the great idea of erecting a memorial bench or tree in his memory at both parks where Adam would spend his Saturdays running with family and friends. Within the space of a few days, they have already raised close to $10,000 for this cause.

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Milestones and More

This week we welcomed THREE first-timers: Adrienne Augustus, David Gang, and Derek Lin. David Gang is no stranger to CP parkrun, so we’re happy to see that he’s back in the saddle. Adrienne recently moved to the area from Nevada, got talking with a lady who was staring at herons in a neighborhood tree, and the next thing she knew, she had been talked into joining CPVp. (Maybe you can guess who the lady with the herons was.)

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Welcome, Adrienne!

THREE virtual parkrunners earned a HIGH FIVE badge this week: Sawyer Rice, barkrunner Leo, and Ashfaq Hasan. Leo headed to the Paint Branch Trail with his human Kristie, and it looks like they took some time out from their walk to enjoy the stream. Smart puppy!

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Time for a quick swim?

Another THREE earned a 25-timer cake badge this week: Kris Sooklal, Jon Mease, and Eileen Sullivan.

And another TEN people reached the 50-timer milestone. The milestone that we thought we’d never need.

  • Patrick Wojahn
  • Malik Al-Jame
  • Simon Wraight (Concord, NH)
  • Erin Munsell
  • Jeremy Rueter
  • Louise Godley
  • Marvin Russell
  • Judy Barnes
  • Mike McClellan
  • Meridith Phillips

You may recall that the last time he was re-elected as mayor of College Park, Patrick Wojahn’s campaign promise to parkunners was to earn his 100 shirt during his 3rd term. He’s up for election again in the fall, and he’s currently on 94 parkruns. So that’s one more reason why we need to bring back regular events soon, so that Patrick can keep his word. This week, Patrick reports that he headed out for his CPVp after 7 hours of online meetings as part of the process of hiring a new city manager for College Park. Thank you, Mr Mayor.

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Our mayor with his security detail on the Paint Branch Trail on Sunday

In addition to Mike McClellan’s 50th CPVp, he’s celebrating something else this week -- look further down in this report to find out what.

Jeremy Rueter celebrated by running further than he has ever run before (more on that in a moment). Erin Munsell put in her customary Saturday long run for her CPVp … she’s one of the people who might struggle to adapt to little 5K runs once we’re back to in person events.

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Half marathon for Jeremy - check!

Louise Godley wore her tardis shirt to celebrate her 50th CPVp.

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Time traveler

Malik Al-Jame was out exploring new trails with David Lai, Dami Alao and crew. In New Hampshire, Simon Wraight celebrated his 50th CPVp with a run around town, pushing a stroller. It looks like a bit of a hilly ‘hood, so it’s impressive to be running up some of those hills pushing an extra body.

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Malik, Dami and David were exploring Patuxent Wildlife Refuge this week

Judy Barnes and Marvin Russell celebrated with outdoor coffee with CPVpers at the Discovery District Park … with the bonus that their daughter Hannah baked brownies to share!

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50-timer badges -- and brownies -- for Judy and Marvin

And Meridith Phillips celebrated her 50th CPVp by getting a new puppy. Or that’s how we chose to interpret the story. Welcome, Lily!

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Lily - future barkrunner!

Team McElhenny was out in force again this week. Gwynnie was leading the way, but special kudos are in order for Theo, who ran with mom to his first sub-40 5K. Nice going, Theo!

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Four fifths of Team McElhenny. Nice PB by Theo this week.

Elmer Hernandez was seen flying along the trail, and recorded his fastest 5K since 2017, just a few steps away from a sub-20 clocking.

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Fastest time since 2017 for Elmer Hernandez

Jeremy Rueter and Kristie Atwood both completed their first half marathon distance runs in the past couple of days. We have been watching Jeremy gradually increase his distances week by week during the pandemic, so we were happy to see this, but not surprised. In Kristie’s case, she reports that it was more of an accident. She got to 10 miles and was feeling good, so she thought, “Well why not!"

Christina McNamee-Mahaffey was feeling deservedly pleased with herself after completing her first ever 5-miler, plus a 5K for good measure the next day, to maintain her streak.

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New distance record for Christina!

Paul Wester completed his 500th consecutive day of running every day, and celebrated with a visit to the Tunnel of Trees (of course!) and the Frederick Douglass monument on the UMD campus.

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500 day streak for Paul!

Last and definitely not least, we were very happy to hear from Ann Robinson in Mansfield, OH, who was able to complete her first full 5K run since a fall last September that left her with a badly broken ankle that needed to be patched together with pins and plates. She’s very thankful for the friends who have helped her through her 7 months recovery.

We love hearing about your PRs, your distance records, and all kinds of other achievements. But there’s nothing quite like the joy of simply being able to get outside and do something. Fantastic, Ann!

Virtual Volunteers

Thank you to all who were busy behind the scenes to make this week’s event go smoothly.

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

A shout out this week to ‘rotators’ Jen Matis, who managed Facebook results, and who teamed up with Heather Sisan as online cheerleaders, helping to spread the positivity and encouragement.

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

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15K run for Jen - and CPVp virtual volunteering

Barkrunners

If you’re mostly here for the puppy pictures, here they are!

Big achievement this week for Marlow. Anna Weber has shared in recent weeks that Marlow is barkrun hesitant. But it sounds like he got it done for a solid mile of walking this week. Kudos to Marlow!

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The first mile is the hardest, Marlow. You got this.

We were happy to see Cosmo back on the Paint Branch Trail this week for his second barkwalk with Joel Goldberg. Even with those little legs, he had some sprint in him at the end.

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Shackleton was happy to get out for his run this week with TJ Hool. Angela and TJ are off on a pre-baby adventure the next couple of weeks, so we’re not sure of Shack’s running plans.

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Pakora is working on his starting block technique for the re-start of live barkrunning.

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Eli was out exploring local art, as usual. This week he found one of the many painted birds statues to be found around the area. The title of this one is “Escherie View from Northwest Branch.” The Northwest Branch is a local stream that some of you use for your CPVps. It took us a while to figure out that the “Escherie View” is a reference to the art of MC Escher.

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Tucker enjoyed his walk on the Savage Mill Trail with his peeps

Looking Back

At this point in 2020 we were in the throes of the first wave of the pandemic. This was back when we were all talking about ‘flattening the curve”, and counting the successive waves wasn’t yet on our radar. (Here’s CNN’s summary of coronavirus news from 4/10/20.) In the US there had been nearly 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 18,000 deaths at that point, and there were some hints that mitigation measures were starting to work. We expected a few more weeks of distancing, closures, etc., but there were hopes that things would become more normal during the summer. How innocent we were!

One of the things that helped to keep our spirits up was the stories and pictures that you shared with us. This picture of Fiona Sisan enjoying a spring day in Kensington is one of our favorites.

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Spring is sprung!

We need to go back two years, to 2019 to find us hosting one of those strange things known as an in person event. We teamed up with UMD and Prince George’s County Parks for their Good Neighbor Day event. Lots of parkrunners pitched in to work on the trail or the park. Misha Bernard even turned her 5K into a trail cleanup hike.

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We were celebrating Cotter Rosenberg on his 50th parkrun. Not bad for somebody who was dragged along by his old man at the start of 2018. And we surprised Lucy Younes with our parkrunner of the month award.

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Meghan Gieske was ringing the PB bell. And Xander Mease was giving Judy Barnes some expert advice on how to use jumping jacks to control any surplus energy before the start. Dalila José was enjoying the trail with the family.

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We were also seeing the fruits of a couple of months of intensive work on stream bank restoration. Old timers will recall that the Paint Branch Stream used to run much closer to the trail shortly before Lisa’s turnaround spot. It had got to the point where the stream was undercutting the trail and the trail was collapsing into the stream. Thanks to the efforts of PG Parks we no longer have to worry about that.

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Further back, on this weekend in 2018 it was also Good Neighbor Day. That year we were focusing on planting trees along the trail and the stream bank.

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We were celebrating Xinzi He as the parkrunner of the month.

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Susan Soileau and Jennifer Halsey were enjoying the trail together. We don’t think they had met before -- it’s a great way to meet new people in the community.

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We found Colin pulling out all the stops to try to outrun Clark Ridge, who was pushing young Felix in a stroller.

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Barely outrunning the stroller

And Mike McClellan was unexpectedly happy to receive finisher token #81. That’s because it was his 81st birthday. (This means that Mike turns 84 this week. And he has now completed 50 CP Virtual parkruns. Impressive!)

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81st token on his 81st birthday

If we go back to 2017 we recognized Clark Ridge as our parkrunner of the month. Clark celebrated by accompanying then 8-year old Violet on her *35-minute* PB on her second ever CP parkrun. She improved her best time from 1h13 to 38:xx. We’re not sure if that’s the biggest ever PB at CP parkrun, but it must be up there.

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35-minute PB for Violet. Don't try this at home, folks.

We welcomed visitors from the Friends of Leakin Park in Baltimore, who Rory Murphy had persuaded to join the effort to create an event in Leakin Park, which launched a couple of months later.

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Future Leakin Park parkrun crew

We saw just 40 finishers that day. A smaller number even in those early months. That was partly because many regulars had decamped to University Park for their annual Azalea Classic 5K race to support the local elementary school.

See below for more on this year’s Azalea Classic.

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Looking Ahead

If progress on vaccinations in Maryland continues to go well, we could be ready to restart regular events by Memorial Day weekend. That’s at the end of next month.

… Now that we have your attention, you can choose to skip ahead to the end. Or you could buckle up as we lay out the case for why we think we could be ready so soon. But you must read the big caveat in the next paragraph.

To be clear, this is NOT an announcement of a restart date. We do NOT have permission to restart, from Prince George’s Parks or from parkrun HQ. We do NOT have plans. But as we look around us, we see more and more reasons for optimism. And that is despite the alarming signs of the spread of the virus in some states, and in some parts of Maryland.

Back in CPVp Report 40 in mid-January we lamented the pace of vaccination at the time, and hoped that Maryland could somehow get from its rate of 20,000 doses/day to 40,000 doses/day. At that pace we figured that most Marylanders would have received at least one shot by around July 4th.

Right now it is looking likely that Maryland will reach 50% of the population with at least one dose by the end of April, i.e., 3 weeks from now!

The recent numbers are remarkable. The state is vaccinating around 60,000 people per day, and around 450,000 people per week. 1 in 7 adults in Maryland received a vaccine shot in just the first 10 days of April. As of this week, all Marylanders over the age of 16 are eligible to receive a vaccine, and increasingly they are finding opportunities to get vaccinated.

On Friday, Pfizer requested emergency use authorization (EUA) to use its vaccine with 12-15 year olds. Authorization is likely to come within a few weeks. This is a big deal. 7.5% of Marylanders are aged 12-17. Vaccinating them can make a big difference in our path towards protection.

At the start of last month it was difficult to get a vaccine appointment. By the end of next month supply will likely outpace demand. (That’s already happening in some states, alas.)

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Let's hope

This should be a game changer for us. We now anticipate that by late May, a large majority of College Park parkrunners will have had a vaccine, including enough time after the first dose to develop substantial immunity.

The criteria for reopening laid out by parkrun HQ are:

  1. Government rules and guidelines
  2. Safety
  3. Parkrunner intent (volunteers and participants)
  4. Community acceptance

We strongly support of all of these criteria. #1 means that we won’t violate state or local government rules about holding events, or proceed without permission from our landowner. #2 means that the risk of infection at an event must be low. #3 means that events shouldn’t return if large numbers of participants are not comfortable with a return. #4 means that we share trails and spaces, and we should be mindful of the comfort level of non-participants. We won’t satisfy everybody, but we cannot ignore community sentiment. We’ll have more to say about #1, #3, and #4 in future weeks. Here we will focus on #2.

The COVID-related risks at a parkrun event are based on the risk that an infectious person shows up at an event, and the risk that another participant gets infected at that event.

Breaking this down, the risks depend on:

  • Prevalence of infections in the surrounding area
  • Likelihood that an infected person would go to a parkrun event
  • Likelihood that those who come to a parkrun event have immunity
  • Likelihood of transmission between two individuals at an event
  • An individual’s degree of control over risk of infection (i.e., taking a vaccine)

We can’t tell any individual what counts as an acceptable level of risk for them. But we can certainly help them to decide by comparing against other benchmarks.

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Theo and Valor enjoying a run this week with Minnie and Danny

Prevalence in the area. Our in person events mostly draw participants from Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. These Washington DC suburbs between them account for a third of the Maryland population. Despite the recent rise in COVID cases in Maryland, the increase has been quite low in these counties. Currently at around 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day, averaging across the two counties. That’s around 1 in 1,000 residents per week.

(The New York Times recently updated their COVID-19 data pages, making it easier to see breakdowns by county. Here’s the page for Maryland. It’s useful.)

Of course, it’s hard to know whether the confirmed cases are a good reflection of the true prevalence in the community. Maybe there are lots of asymptomatic cases that are being missed. That’s where the evidence from UMD campus testing, right on our doorstep, is hugely informative. UMD is conducting around 8,000 tests per week. Everybody who lives on campus or who comes to campus must get tested every 2 weeks, and robust tracking of swipe card and wifi usage is used to ensure compliance. This means that the UMD test positivity rate is a reasonable indicator of the actual prevalence in the campus community. This past week the positivity rate was around 0.2%, or about 1 in 500.

(Some at UMD make the mistake of comparing this positivity rate favorably against the county test positivity rate of around 5%, concluding that the campus is a pristine island of safety. That’s just poor use of statistics. The county isn’t testing the entire population every 2 weeks.)

So we can estimate that somewhere between 1 in 500 and 1 in 1,000 in our area are currently infected.

Likelihood of an infected person coming to CP parkrun. It’s probably safe to say that most people who are actually sick with COVID-19 wouldn’t show up to CP parkrun. They wouldn’t feel great, and our community is pretty sensible. The risks are primarily around the number of asymptomatic people in the area, who might come along to CP parkrun unaware that they are infected.

A recently published CDC study of 4,000 healthcare workers who got tested every week suggested that asymptomatic infections are rare. In that study only 1 in 8 infections wasn’t accompanied by typical COVID symptoms. But there are also pre-symptomatic cases. There are often a couple of days between when somebody is infectious and when they become symptomatic. So a very rough estimate is that around a third of currently infectious people are not (yet) showing symptoms.

That would imply that around 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 3,000 in our area are currently infectious but asymptomatic. Since a typical turnout at CP parkrun is 150/week, this means that the chance that one or more infected individuals shows up at a CP parkrun event would be in the range of 1 in 10 to 1 in 20. In other words, if we hold CP parkrun weekly throughout the summer, and if current infection rates were unchanged through that period, then we might expect that one week during the summer there would be an infected individual at CP parkrun, and in almost all weeks there would be none.

But these calculations don’t take account of the fact that many of the people who will show up to CP parkrun already have immunity against COVID-19.

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Andres Mbouh is working to keep his community moving during the pandemic

Likelihood of immunity among CP parkrunners. Immunity comes from prior infection or from vaccination. Very soon, most CP parkrunners will have immunity via one of these routes.

We have no idea of how many CP parkrunners have immunity via prior infection. In Maryland, 7% of the population has had a confirmed infection. That’s one of the lowest rates in the US. The true rate in Maryland is probably higher. The rate among CP parkrunners may be lower. We will ignore this number because we simply don’t know.

But we have a much better idea of immunity via vaccination. We know state-wide figures. We know about predictors of vaccine uptake. And many of you have shared information about your vaccination progress.

As of today, 38% of the Maryland population has received at least one shot of a vaccine. That’s 50% of adults in the state. At the current rate of vaccination, 50% of the entire population of Maryland will have received one shot by the end of April. By one month from today, 75% of the adult population could have received a shot. This assumes no further acceleration (or slowdown) in vaccination rates.

In fact, if the current rate of vaccination continues for the next 50 days, through the end of May, then nearly 90% of adults in Maryland will have received a shot. That’s more than most expect to get a vaccine. That’s how we can conclude that supply will have outstripped demand before the end of May. In other words, most people who want to get a vaccine will have been able to obtain one by Memorial Day.

But will the people who like to attend CP parkrun choose to get vaccinated? We think that’s very likely indeed. Vaccine hesitancy is going to present a huge challenge for the United States in the coming months, but it’s also clear that levels of vaccine uptake will vary greatly by location.

Based on broad national demographic trends on vaccine hesitancy (as seen in this new NPR/Marist poll), our area has a profile that predicts very low rates of vaccine hesitancy. New estimates from HHS of hesitancy rates by state, county, and local area aligns with this impression.

In addition, we do not attract a random cross-section of the local population. People who bike or drive to Acredale Park with their barcode on a Saturday morning, to take part in a free community-driven 5K run/walk, are people who take action for their health, who value community service and community protection, and who are very likely to trust in science.

It’s also likely that CP parkrunners have an unusually high degree of trust in scientists, and specifically in NIH and FDA scientists. That’s because they likely have neighbors who are scientists and/or who work at the FDA or NIH, since these institutions are right on our doorstep in College Park and Silver Spring.

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Federal scientists - yeah, we like them

We think it’s reasonable to anticipate that at least 90% of adult CP parkrunners will get vaccinated. And the vast majority will do so soon, if they have not already done so.

(These estimates don't include children, for whom vaccination options are uncertain. Under 18s typically account for around 10% of participants at CP parkrun. If children aged 12-15 will soon be able to get a vaccine, then the number who are unable to get a vaccine will shrink further.)

We now also know that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing infections, i.e., they don’t just prevent symptoms. And it’s very hard to be infectious without being infected.

So this greatly reduces the risk of an infectious person showing up at CP parkrun. Assuming that 90% of adult parkrunners will be vaccinated, and that those people are 90% less likely to be infectious, then the risk of a single infectious person showing up at a CP parkrun event is reduced by a further 80%, i.e., it’s at least 5 times lower than if there were no immunity in the participants at CP parkrun. In other words, we can estimate that between 1 in 7,500 and 1 in 15,000 who show up at CP parkrun will be infectious. That amounts to one infectious person every 1 to 2 years at CP parkrun. (And remember that these calculations assume that the virus remains just as prevalent in our area, even while most people become vaccinated. That’s rather unlikely.)

That’s a low risk. But we haven’t yet gotten to the risk of transmission ...

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Infection risk. This is the part that really matters. What would be the risk that an infectious person comes to CP parkrun and infects another person while there?

We’ll focus here on risks for individuals who choose to get vaccinated. Adults who have access to a vaccine but who choose to not get one are making a risk calculation of their own.

Infection risk is sharply reduced in outdoor settings. Evidence on this point is summarized in a scientific review produced last August by Prof Mike Weed for parkrun.

Infection risk is further reduced by limiting long exposure. The parkrun COVID framework takes steps to reduce risks at events, and individuals have control of their own decisions around distancing before the start, choosing to wear a mask, etc. Transmission may also be more difficult in hot weather.

And, of course, a vaccinated person is at least 10 times less likely than an unvaccinated person to pick up an infection from an infected person.

Taken together, it seems that by Memorial Day, almost all adult parkrunners will have the ability to show up at Acredale Park, confident that their risk of infection at the event is extremely low.

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Comparing risks. But what counts as low enough risk?

It’s a personal decision, of course. The best that we can do is provide clear facts and share information about relevant steps that we are taking.

But we can compare to the broader set of risks associated with CP parkrun. We file a detailed risk assessment with parkrun HQ every year, and every week we also file a report on whether any incidents occurred at the event. These are not common, but we have seen a few over the years. One time a senior got lost along the trail. A couple of times there were falls along the trail that needed medical attention. Once somebody got a concussion from a stray soccer ball. A couple of times there were altercations. We estimate that we encounter an incident roughly once for every 2,000 finishers. That is, about once every 3 months. So, the estimated risk of an infectious person showing up at CP parkrun will soon be significantly lower than the risk of these other random incidents.

We can also compare against the risks that parkrun HQ has deemed acceptable, based on their decisions to reopen events in other countries. The simplest comparison is with the decision made at the start of September 2020 to bring back events in England. This was at a time when there were zero vaccines available, and the level of acquired immunity in the UK was still extremely low (confirmed cases amounted to 0.5% of the population at that time). So there was almost no community protection against the virus. At that time, the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported in its weekly COVID Infection Survey that around 1 in 2,000 in England were currently infected. UK parkrun events tend to be much larger than US events (a typical event has 200 finishers/week, some events see 1000+/week), so the risk of an infectious person showing up at an event was higher than it would be now in College Park. (The UK figures would be 1 per 2 weeks at a big event, 1 per 10 weeks at a typical event.)

The most recent estimate from ONS is that 1 in 340 in England is infected with COVID-19, though numbers are continuing to fall. That’s roughly comparable to the situation in Maryland.

However, the status of vaccinations in the UK is likely to fall behind the US in the next 2 months.

The UK has done very well at getting first vaccine doses to older adults (age 50+) and highly vulnerable populations. This has been very effective in reducing fatalities and hospitalizations from COVID-19. But this was achieved via a strategy of delaying second shots for up to 3 months. Those second shots are now due. So, much of the UK supply in the next 2 months will be devoted to second shots for older adults. By the planned restart of parkrun events in England on June 5th, most under 50s will not yet have access to a vaccine.

This is why we believe that by Memorial Day weekend in late May the COVID risk at College Park parkrun would be much lower than at the events that are due to start across England the following week. Not because we can predict the rates of virus transmission. But because of the size of our event and because of vaccinations.

(The risk could be even lower at most other US parkrun events, since they are smaller than College Park parkrun. However, the specific numbers would need to be adjusted for event size, community prevalence of the virus, and vaccine uptake in the local parkrun population. We would guess, for example, that Kensington parkrun, led by an epidemiologist and practically in the shadow of NIH, would have even lower risk than College Park. Smaller event, likely near 100% vaccine uptake.)

We should emphasize that none of this means that it is likely that we will actually have permission to restart by Memorial Day. But we think it’s time to have the relevant conversations.

If you take issue with any of the data or reasoning here, or if you have any questions about future plans, we would love to hear from you.

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Coming Attractions. Our summer plans are uncertain. But we know exactly what we will be doing next Saturday morning. And we have some other plans for coming weeks.

April 17th - Acredale Park cleanup. See above for details.

May 1st - it’s our birthday! CPVp #55 will also be our 1st (and only?) birthday. We’re not yet sure what we’ll be doing to celebrate, but we won’t be letting that day pass unnoticed.

Also May 1st (or thereabouts) - Azalea Classic 5K. This annual University Park ES fundraiser is what inspired Andrea Zukowski to start running 7 years ago, at age 49. Without that CPp and CPVp wouldn’t have happened. Normally we have to choose between CP parkrun and the UP race, because they’re both held at 9am on a Saturday. But this year there’s no need to choose, because the Azalea Classic is a virtual event. In fact, if anybody is looking for a good place to do an accurately measured 5K route for their virtual AC, we know of a good place to do that!

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

 

 

You rock! (Virtual Report 51)

We didn’t have anything special planned for this week’s 51st CPVp. Turns out that was probably a good thing, because others had been making plans, and they were just perfect for an Easter weekend when many of us really needed a little extra boost. Huge kudos to Team Schneider for planting little surprises for us along the trail in College Park. More on that below.

In the DC area, the cherry blossoms reached their peak this week, and spring was bursting forth wherever you looked. Yet we also had sleet one morning and needed to watch out for icy patches on a couple of morning runs. It’s a metaphor for life right now.

This week’s virtual parkrun news wasn’t all rosy. But we are sure that we are a whole lot better off than we would be without this community.

So what was everybody getting up to this weekend?

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Facts and Figures

  • 190 virtual parkrunners
  • 800 miles covered
  • 9 first-timers
  • 3 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 1 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badge earned
  • 2 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 7 new 50-TIMER badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 13 virtual volunteers

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 51

Stat(s) of the week: This week’s stats puzzle comes from Duane Rosenberg. It was his birthday this Saturday, so consider this a belated birthday gift from us.

Duane noticed that his recorded 5K time was 22:01 for each of the past 3 weeks. He asks: how (un)likely is that? Good question!

In order to answer this, we simply need to know the probability that Duane runs the same time one week as he did the week before, and then we multiply that probability by itself.

If Duane’s times were all really closely clustered, then it wouldn’t be so hard to get 3 identical times in a row. For example, if he always recorded a time of 22:01 to 22:10, then the probability of identical times in adjacent weeks would be 0.1, and the probability of identical times in 3 adjacent weeks would be 0.01. On the other hand, if he’s somebody whose times cover a much wider range, then it would be rather unlikely.

Fortunately, Duane is one of our 51-timers, so we have a lot of virtual parkrun data on him at our fingertips. And we can see that he’s uncommonly consistent. Almost all of his CPVp times fall in a 90-second range between 21:50 and 23:20. There are just a couple of exceptions, such as when he was traveling in Kentucky, or when he recorded his 5K in the middle of a marathon, or when his Garmin was a little ‘optimistic’ in its measurement.

But if we’re randomly selecting times from a 90-second window, it’s still really unlikely that he would record 3 identical times in a row. Like, around 1 in 8,000. Or, once in 160 years of virtual parkruns. We’re hoping that the pandemic won’t last that long.

But the 90-second window might underestimate Duane’s consistency. If his times rise and fall with his fitness or with the seasons, then maybe they’re even more closely matched from one week to the next. In fact, this seems to be true. On average, his time in week N is just 18 seconds from his time in week N-1. In one third of weeks, the difference is less than 10 seconds. The median time difference from one week to the next is about 15 seconds. Duane is pretty consistent.

So, we’d estimate the probability that Duane runs the same time as last week as somewhere in the range of 1-in-15 to 1-in-30. This means that the probability of 3 identical times in a row is in the range of 1 in 225 to 1 in 900.

That’s not very likely. But if we consider that we have a lot of people who take part every week, then it’s fairly likely that somebody should record identical times in 3 consecutive weeks.

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Happy birthday, Duane!

Bonus stat: In parkrun nerd terminology, recording the same time in consecutive weeks is known as Groundhog Day, in homage to the movie. Finishing in the same position in consecutive weeks is a known as a Golden Groundhog (apparently). To our knowledge, this has never happened at College Park. But it has happened down the street at Kensington parkrun, where Angela Long finished in 12th position in 32:58  on 1/26/19 and the following week … which just so happened to be Groundhog Day, 2/2/19.

Double bonus stat: That thing that Angela Long did, with identical time AND finish position in adjacent events, has happened around 4,000 times in the 50,000,000 parkruns ever recorded. That’s about once in every 10,000 participations. Meanwhile, doing it THREE times in a row, that has happened only about a dozen times, i.e., once for every 4 million participations. … We checked whether Duane’s identical times were in identical positions at CPVp. They weren’t.

One more thing: in two of the three weeks when Duane ran identical times, his nephew Brian, running in Mechanicsburg, PA, set out to try to run the same pace as Duane. On both occasions he ran 21:51, exactly 10 seconds faster.

You Rock!

Regular virtual parkrunners Mary Clare and Samantha Schneider painted a bunch of small rocks, sometimes with help from 1-year old brother James. They then proceeded to head out at dawn on Saturday, together with mom Erin and dad Joshua, to cache them along the CP parkrun course along the Paint Branch Trail, for virtual parkrunners to discover later in the day.

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The elves' workshop

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Delivery at dawn

What a brilliant idea! Each rock that we discovered conveyed the simple but important message that there are others out there who are looking out for you. It drew extra people to the trail, and helped those of us who would be on the trail anyway to pay closer attention to our surroundings.

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Goodness all around us

Lori Dominick reported finding 18 rocks along the trail. Lisa Wilson says that she found 25. Catherine Spirito and Pete Monacelli took in a longer run up from Riverdale Park to hunt for rocks, and they reported finding 30. Did we find all of them? Well, Erin Schneider reports that there were around 34 in total. So we found almost all of them (and some of them may have taken a hike by the time you got to the trail).

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Lori found 18 rocks. How many did you find?

This idea was so well received it even made it into the weekly report of our friends at Melton Mowbray Virtual parkrun in the UK.

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Kristie ran her fastest 5K in a long while. Maybe inspired by this lucky rock at the start line.

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Real colors - seen on Andrea's walk this week

Support Each Other

Over the past few months we have received a lot of messages in which people have told us how much this community has helped them during the pandemic. We never expected this. But neither did we expect to still be doing this in Spring 2021, or the challenges this year would bring.

Here are just a couple from the past week, very lightly edited for anonymity.:

“During a trying time in our lives, this group has been a lifesaver.”

“This community has really helped me pick up running again, which has been great for my physical and mental health during the pandemic. Thank you so much for that!”

“The virtual parkrun has kept me going for the last year.”

“My pandemic running experience. ... I had been a pretty good runner before the pandemic. ... Then the pandemic happened. I quickly realized that I could not motivate myself to run alone in the middle of a pandemic. It was just very stressful. I eventually stopped running for a few months. But your emails kept coming, inviting everyone to get out there and run or walk. And one Saturday I started running again. And then the next. I only did virtual CP parkruns at first, and became more comfortable running by myself. Now I'm running 6-ish days a week. So, thank you for organizing the virtual parkruns. They were instrumental in getting me back out there.”

This one made us think again. Just because somebody seems fit and speedy, that’s no reason to think that they’re doing fine.

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So many blossoms on Kristine Rogers' CPVp this week

Shortly after receiving this message we received a much stronger reminder of this when we learned from our virtual parkrun friends in Ann Arbor and Livonia, MI that one of their regular participants, Adam Styron, had chosen to end his own life earlier in the week. Adam was a young college student. He, his dad Josh, and his brother Henry are among the best known figures at the two Michigan parkrun events, often leading the field, often sharing a kind word as they lap you, often jumping in to volunteer right after finishing. For all we knew, everything was great. But “for all we knew” clearly isn’t enough.

This message was shared on the Lillie parkrun, Ann Arbor Facebook page, announcing their 51st virtual event this week: “We are absolutely devastated by this news and send our deepest condolences to the Styron family - Josh, Becky, Henry, and Elena. While the normal rules to our virtual parkrun still apply (5k any where/time/pace etc), we ask that you do one more thing today: reach out to a loved one and tell them how much they mean to you. Life is precious, we should fill it with love.”

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Last week we teamed up with the Lillie parkrun Ann Arbor community to jointly celebrate our 50th virtual events. This week we mourn with them. And we remember to not assume that those who appear to be doing fine really are doing fine.

This week’s chalk messages on the Paint Branch Trail are offered in that spirit, and as a moment to pause ahead of the rest of this report. (Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk and peace activist. In 1967 Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.)

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Friends matter

More Easter

Easter is an important celebration for many. And a good excuse for some sweet treats for many more. There were many signs of both this week.

Joan Heffernan found a tree full of Easter eggs along her route in Connecticut.

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Rach Cousen won a real chocolate Easter egg as part of a special tradition at her home event at Melton Mowbray, UK. Apparently they have a long-standing tradition that on Easter weekend a set of stickers is attached to randomly selected parkrun finish tokens. Anybody who finds a sticker on their finish token automatically wins a chocolate egg. In virtual mode, event director Shane Sharkey announced a series of randomly selected virtual finisher positions who would win an egg. There’s no way to know who would end up with those positions until the virtual results table is revealed in the dead of Saturday night. Local winners get a hand delivered egg the next day. And non-local winners’ eggs are donated to the local Melton Birth Centre. This year with help from Shane’s toddler daughter. Brilliant!

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Got eggs!

In South Bend, IN Meghan and Ben Gieske came up with a virtual parkrun version of the Catholic Seven Churches Visitation tradition, in which the faithful visit seven churches on foot to close out Lent. They report making it to six churches over the course of 5 miles. Since we’re really chill about the distances in virtual parkruns, that sounds good enough to us!

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In Greensboro, NC, Andrea Maas’s Easter treat was having daughter Carly back from College Park for the weekend, where Carly got to run with her brother Daniel, also home from college for a bit.

And in Maple Grove, MN, Karen Wojahn’s Easter treat was company on her virtual parkwalk from daughter Laura Kaegebein and grandkids Anna and William. We hear that Karen’s going to be spending a lot more time there soon, so that sounds like great news all around!

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Karen's crew this week

Finally, Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Yvas headed a little south from their usual CPVp routes, so that they could combine a run along the Northwest Branch with a visit to Shortcake Bakery for cupcakes and Easter-appropriate hot cross buns.

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Yum!

Curious about the hot cross buns tradition, we headed to Wikipedia, where we discovered an unexpected connection to last week’s CPVp report. Theories of the buns’ origin include 6th century Greece and 14th century St Albans. Last week we noted the city for its Roman walls ... and its flooded parkrun course. We clearly underestimated the place. In the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England there were decrees forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads except on Good Friday, Christmas, and at burials. We’re well aware of the Brits’ questionable culinary reputation, but attempts to specifically prohibit good food explains a lot.

Island Life

This week Deborah Gayle and Andy Clark did a 10K race that started at Columbia Island along the Mt Vernon Trail, and then continued to a loop of Roosevelt Island. At around the same time, some of our regular virtual parkrunners were at the Teddy Roosevelt Plaza on Roosevelt Island for the now regular first Saturday of the month meetup. Stewart Mayhew even managed to do a run on the College Park trail and then head down to Roosevelt Island. This got us curious -- we hadn’t really heard of Columbia Island.

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Before the 1880s, Columbia and Roosevelt Islands were joined together as part of Analostan Island. Because of deforestation and increased agriculture upstream, the island gradually got built up by silt and separated further from the mainland through erosion. Over time, the Potomac River eroded the center of the island, eventually severing the southern part, which was named Columbia Island in 1918. Dredge material was repeatedly added to Columbia Island through efforts to widen the Potomac and minimize flooding in Virginia.

The northern part of Analostan Island was renamed to Theodore Roosevelt Island in 1931, with the memorial built in the 1960s. Prior to its current use as a park and memorial to the 26th president, the island had been Nacotchtank land from 1668-1682, then it passed through a few owners including George Masons III and IV, and Washington Gas. It was used as a military training ground from 1863-1865 during the Civil War, and in 1898 it was the site of multiple private (and presumably illegal) explosive materials tests.

Milestones and More

We had plenty of milestones to mark this week, as usual.

There were NINE first-timers: Andy Clark, Greg Gorman, Cepta Burke, Janene Smith, Kyle Thomas, Anna Kaegebein, William Kaegebein, and barkrunner Cosmo.

It was great to see Greg Gorman back on the trail this week. Greg was an early regular at CP parkrun, and later went on to become a regular volunteer and now co-Event Director at Kensington parkrun.

Cepta Burke joined us from Navan, Ireland. She visited us once in College Park, on an August day in 2019 when the weather was not exactly Irish.

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Cepta Burke getting a College Park welcome in August 2019

This week’s THREE five-timers, all earning a HIGH FIVE badge, are all members of Team Sisan: Dan, Fiona, and Hannah.

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Team Sisan found trash and treasure on their hike this week

We had ONE new TEN TIMER … but a special one. It was Nathan, our Italian barkrunner. Nathan headed out for a 6K run with his human Paolo Giulio Gazzano around Civitavecchia.

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Nathan recovering from his 10th virtual barkrun

This week’s TWO new 25-timers were Frank Filteau and TJ Hool. John Ramsey staged an impromptu award ceremony for Frank this week at Acredale Park. Frank was among the leaders in his age group at a 5K in DC last week, but didn’t realize this until after he had left. So John delivered the award to him in College Park.

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And we had SEVEN new members of our 50-timer club, all earning a GOLD MEDAL badge.

  • David Lai
  • Brian Murphy
  • Emma Keer (in Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Tim Keer (in Bloomfield Village, MI)
  • Jackie Hayes
  • Rory Murphy (in Morris Plains, NJ)
  • Angela Gentile

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David's crew "only" did a fast 10K trail run this week

This is a pretty distinguished group of (virtual) parkrunners, all of whom have been dedicated parkrun volunteers and/or running group leaders before and/or during the pandemic.

Congrats to Brian Murphy on this week being elected as Vice President of Montgomery County Road Runners, one of the largest running clubs in the continent.

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A couple of other things that caught our eye this week …

Lisa Shiota set a 5K PB. Nice! She attributes it to new shoes. We suspect that there may be some fitness involved, too.

Chris van Vlack ran his first sub-23 minute 5K, paced by Zak Mellen on their “backwards” version of the CP parkrun route. That’s a version that starts at Lisa’s turnaround, then heads to Acredale Park and back. (We think of that as the harder version, as it’s generally (slightly) uphill, and (somewhat) into the wind on the northward section of the route.)

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Chris en route to a PB

Finally, Jen Matis completed her goal of doing a 10-mile run on Friday, running the Virtual Cherry Blossom 10-miler. She opted to head out a bit early, to ensure that she wouldn’t miss the actual cherry blossoms. Then on Saturday she headed out again for another 10K. Long-time readers of these reports may recall that in early 2020 Jen set herself the goal of running 10 5K CP parkruns. 5K seemed like a long way for her at the time. She didn’t have a chance to get to 10 before the pandemic hit, but virtual 5Ks count too. Anyway, one year on, and we find her running the equivalent of five 5Ks in the space of 2 days. Impressive progress!

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Blossoms - check. 10-miler - check.

Virtual Volunteers

We say it every week, but this couldn’t happen without volunteers. And it’s even better when the volunteer initiative is unprompted. In addition to the backbone crew (Colin, Andrea, Tara, Anna, Katie, and Hannah) this week we had Lori and Heather helping to manage results and cheerleading. And we included all of Team Schneider for their efforts in spreading good vibes along the trail.

Lori Dominick: results (Facebook) and cheerleading
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: results, report, and propaganda
Hannah Russell: report
Erin Schneider: spirit booster!
James Schneider: spirit booster!
Joshua Schneider: spirit booster!
Mary Clare Schneider: spirit booster!
Samantha Schneider: spirit booster!
Heather Sisan: results (Facebook) and cheerleading
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: results, email and photos

We should add that EVERYONE who participates in CPVp is a volunteer. When you ‘volunteer’ your information on your activities, stories, or pictures, you are making a contribution to keeping us moving and keeping us connected. When you encourage others to get moving, you’re making a difference. Thank you!

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

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We pay our crew in ... rutabagas. (Long story)

Barkrunners

This week we met a new barkrunner! Little Cosmo was recently adopted by regular parkrunner Joel Goldberg, who brought him along to the Paint Branch Trail to meet some friends. 5K is a long way to go on those little legs, but Cosmo somehow managed it, and still had energy to meet new friends afterwards for coffee.

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Welcome Cosmo

Fern and Tucker were very much ready for their miles with Shelley Gough Lauffer in Mt Airy, MD.

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Fern and Tucker looking ready

And Shackleton was enjoying the painted rocks along the Paint Branch Trail just as much as the humans. No rocks went unsniffed.

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Barkrunners can enjoy searching for rocks, too

Lizzie was back out with her crew this week on the Northeast Branch Trail. This week she was surveying her subjects from the vantage point of a carved tree trunk. Oh, and she was celebrating Joanne’s birthday, too. Happy birthday, Joanne!

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Happy birthday, Joanne!

Looking Back

One year ago, at the start of April 2020, we weren’t quite sure what was happening to us. In Maryland we were under a shelter in place order. College Park was a ghost town, with everything aside from essential stores closed down. PPE and testing were scarce. And we didn’t know much yet about safer and riskier activities.

UMD had pivoted in barely 2 weeks from being a traditional in person university to a mostly online university. The initial instruction was to just plan for 2 weeks online, and then they would reassess. We know how that all worked out.

We had planned an April send-off for enthusiastic parkrunner and volunteer Chris Roth as he returned to Germany. But the pandemic sent him back early. So we made him a virtual sendoff instead: Auf Wiedersehen, Chris.

We were at a bit of a loss. We didn’t see much interest in virtual events where you ran alone and then received swag in the mail. That didn’t seem very uplifting. But we were also starting to notice that some events were making creative use of online possibilities, with surprisingly fun outcomes. One was the Quarantine Backyard Ultra race that started on April 4th, 2020, ultimately won nearly 3 days later by Arlington’s Mike Wardian. A couple of weeks later we were inspired to see our friends from Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston having a whole lot of fun in the Alone Together 24-hour virtual relay. That got us thinking. And planning.

In contrast, this weekend in 2019 seems like such innocent times. 100+ people were out enjoying the trail together on a Saturday morning. Pretty much like normal.

One first-timer that day was Patty Hall. She has been back many times since, often with barkrunner Jude for company.

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There must have been big puddles somewhere along the trail, based on this picture of Clark Ridge carrying Violet’s shoes in the last mile.

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6-year old Xander Mease was ringing the PB bell, with a 26:xx clocking.

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Sam Phipps sped around the course as usual, and then headed back out to walk with his mom.

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Rebecca White also set a PB that day. But not without a pause along the way to pet barkrunner Trista. One must keep priorities in mind.

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And some chose to bring along a little light reading to enhance their trail experience.

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On this weekend in 2018 we had visitors from the UMD Gymkana troupe.

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We found Michelle Brandy en route to a PB.

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And Erin Munsell was taking a turn on the volunteer crew. We suspect that this was related to her tackling the Cherry Blossom 10-miler the following day. That may have been her longest run yet at that point. Nowadays she routinely checks in with a 15-miler for her Saturday CPVp. It has been quite a journey for Erin. Check out this story from summer 2018: I am not a runner.

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And just like one year later, we also found Xander Mease setting a PB. With 29:xx it was his first time under 30 minutes.

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Our records from one year earlier on April 1, 2017 are a bit less clear. We had 72 finishers in our 25th event, which seemed like a lot at the time. Tom Bean set a course record of 15:48, and we teamed up with UMD and Prince George’s Parks for the first time as part of their Good Neighbor Day event, with parkrunners helping to plant trees and clear undergrowth around Acredale Park.

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We think Cindy Conant (Erin Munsell's aunt) was volunteering to rest up for the 2017 Cherry Blossom 10-miler. She finished "only" 2nd in her age division ... a few steps behind the 1984 Olympic Women's Marathon Champion. 

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Everyone loves reaching the turnaround

On that day Colin was away for work in Boston. But during his visit he met up with Laura Cornelissen and Drew Messinger about their idea of starting a parkrun event in Boston. Almost exactly one year later he was back in Boston for the launch of Jamaica Pond parkrun. Three years later, in late March 2020, he was planning to be back in Boston for the launch of Danehy Park parkrun in Cambridge, MA, a sister event north of the Charles that has now been waiting to start for over a year! Still waiting.

(We’re not sure whether you’re enjoying these trips down memory lane, but we certainly are!)

Looking Ahead

Our best guess on when we’ll be able to hold in person events again remains late summer (July-August), though we continue to have no specific information on plans.

If the central parkrun organization has specific plans about reopening US events, then they’re a closely guarded secret. So we’re on our own in that regard.

Two relevant developments. The UK’s junior parkrun events (2Ks on Sundays) will begin to return next week. Those events are re-starting on a rolling basis, as volunteer teams and landowners allow. Almost 20% of events will take place on April 11th, and the number should rise to more than a third of events by later in April. This is relevant to our situation in the US because there’s no attempt to re-start all events at once.

Also, this weekend saw the return of most 5K parkrun events in Russia, with 68 taking place, more than double the number held last week. Russia’s 7-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases is around 9,000 and the 7-day average of fatalities is around 400. Notably, the roll-out of vaccinations is much slower in Russia than the US. In Russia around 5% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose (Sputnik V is a two-dose vaccine), and around 200,000 - 250,000 shots are being delivered per day. This is a small fraction of the US roll out.

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One key to a return in College Park is going to be success in reducing health risks and increasing community comfort levels, so that there is minimal push back around gathering 200 people at Acredale Park on a Saturday morning for the start of an event.

In that regard, we’re entering a few weeks of COVID purgatory, where a mix of encouraging and discouraging signs are just hard to figure out.

Cases are rising in many parts of the country, especially in Michigan and in the New York City area. For those of us in Maryland, it means that we’re in the ‘privileged’ position of seeing a fourth wave of infections, with around a 70% increase in daily cases in less than a month. Maryland is one of very few states to see a 4th wave, because most states managed to avoid at least one of the previous waves (spring, summer, fall/winter). Maryland has never been in the epicenter of one of the waves, which may be how it has one of the lowest per capita infection rates over the past year (44th of 50 states). But we always see the effects of surges coming from the north, south, or west.

Meanwhile, the situation in College Park is encouraging. There were fears of a post-Spring Break surge at UMD, which did not materialize. Mass testing and enforcing of precautions seems to have worked. On Friday UMD announced a relaxation of some restrictions, including allowing gatherings of up to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors (both with additional precautions), and increased capacity for research and dining. In another sign of positive developments, UMD also announced on Friday that it has stopped its year long hiring freeze, which was instituted in response to the campus’s worst ever financial crisis. With the vitality of our city so closely linked to the campus, this is a very welcome step.

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Great to see Alyssa on the trail in College Park this week. And welcome to Kyle!

There’s encouraging news on vaccines. If people will take them, that is. This week brought a rush of valuable new data. The CDC announced results showing that the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) prevent infection in addition to preventing symptoms and severe illness. Pfizer announced results from a trial in 12-15 year olds that showed their vaccine to be safe and effective, creating a path towards vaccinations for middle and high schoolers. Finally, Pfizer announced results showing safety and efficacy persists in people vaccinated 6 months ago, creating a path towards full FDA approval. This step is a potential game-changer for College Park, as full FDA approval would make it possible for an institution like UMD to require vaccination of students and employees by September.

Meanwhile, vaccine doses are being delivered at an impressive rate. Now over 100 million Americans have had at least some vaccination, and new doses are going into arms at a rate of 3 million per day. It’s likely that at least 30 million Americans already have some degree of acquired immunity, due to prior infection. And close to 100 million Americans could receive a shot during April.

In Maryland, around 1% of the entire population is now getting a vaccine every single day. The New York Times featured a story about the Maryland vaccination rollout a couple of days ago, with a focus on communities close to us in northern Prince George’s County. Though the article highlights some of the initial struggles and ongoing complexities of the state’s vaccination program, it’s also clear that there’s now dramatically increased capacity, and some promising programs to serve harder to reach local communities.

So, if we have all this encouraging news, why are we seeing a fourth wave of the virus? Basically, because it’s a race between vaccination and the combination of increased activity and more infectious variants of the virus.

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There's light up ahead. (And did you notice the painted rock hidden under this bridge?)

Most importantly, the benefits of vaccination will increase as more people get vaccinated. Reducing the spread of the virus requires keeping the infection rate (R0) below 1.0. With each new vaccinated person, there are fewer people available to transmit the virus. But each new person brings greater benefit, as more and more people are vaccinated. Vaccinating seniors in the first 10-20% is certainly good for reducing the number of deaths. But it doesn’t do so much to affect the spread of the virus. In contrast, the shift from 40% protected to 50-60% protected has a much bigger impact. That’s unlikely to be enough to get us to herd immunity (that requires a proportion equivalent to 1 - 1/R0 to be vaccinated, where the natural R0 for SARS-COV-2 seems to be in the 3.0-4.0 range). But it makes a big difference.

So, a lot of the groundwork has been laid, but it’s going to take another 4-6 weeks to see if we can turn this into major progress.

Our virtual parkruns will continue for the foreseeable future. But as the spring unfolds, we hope that we’ll be able to see more of you in person on local trails. We’re looking forward to some lovely weather for our outdoor meetups at the Discovery District Park, which is turning out to be a gem of a public meeting spot. And we’ll keep seeing everyone online.

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Good company - and awesome Adirondack chairs - at the Discovery District Park

We leave you with this picture that Heather Sisan took from her family’s CPVp walk in Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring. Each strand of crystals in this new art installation represents one of the 1400 lives lost in Montgomery County due to COVID-19.

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Until next time!
Your CPVp Team

p.s. One more bonus. You probably noticed that big container ship that was blocking the Suez Canal last week. We mentioned it at the start of last week’s report. This week the Washington Post had a great article about the rescue mission: Inside the 144-hour scramble to free the giant ship stuck in the Suez Canal. Why mention it here? It’s by regular CP parkrunner Steve Hendrix. It’s a good read. sharlene-deskins-web julie-russell-web gail-sockwell-thompson-web

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See you next week!

 

Life begins at fifty (Virtual Report 50)

Though this year keeps throwing curve balls at us (we bet that “world trade disrupted by beached container ship” wasn’t on your 2021 bingo card), we had much to feel good about this Saturday. Amazing weather, a community that’s still going strong after 50 events, and teaming up with Ann Arborites (and a few Buckeyes) for a 1,000 mile distance challenge. But one of the things that brought the biggest smile to our faces was this remark by Adrien Harrison:

“A year ago I started the Couch to 5K program, and today I ran my sixth half marathon.”

Amazing, Adrien!

And there were plenty more good stories from this week’s CPVp, so let’s get to it ...

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FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

Facts and Figures

  • 210 virtual parkrunners
  • 925 miles covered
  • 10 first-timers
  • 4 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 3 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 5 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 17 barkrunners
  • 9 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: Happy birthday this week to regular CPVper Anne L’Ecuyer. Last week, in our 49th event, she was still the tender age of 49. This week, for our 50th, she has passed the half century mark. Fantastic!

And there’s more. Anne’s wife Louise Godley was running her 48th CPVp this week. And she’s 48 herself.

Meanwhile, Louise’s mum, Marilyn Langley, did her 16th CPVp this weekend, in Chelmsford, UK. So she has now joined us for our virtual events almost as often as Louise has ever joined us for our in person events. That’s despite being thousands of miles away from College Park.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 50

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Happy birthday, Anne!

Life begins at fifty

When we started College Park Virtual parkrun last May, we weren’t even sure that it would last for more than a week or two, let alone that we’d still be doing this 50 weeks later. Well, here we are, so we weren’t about to let the moment pass unnoticed. (As if we ever would.)

After 50 events, 800 individuals have completed 8,575 CPVps. There’s no way that we would have expected that.

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A number of you already own red 50-parkrun milestone shirts. We did not need to provide any extra encouragement for you to dig those out of the dresser this week.

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Team Schneider celebrated with tutus on their walk around Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale Park. Always fashion, forward, 4-year old Mary Clare Schneider decided that it would be appropriate to mark the occasion by wearing FIVE tutus. Who are we to argue with that!

(We mentioned Riversdale Mansion way back in CPVp Report 9 (yes, the test will be cumulative!). The plantation and historic house were owned by the Calvert family who founded the state of Maryland.)

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Samantha, James, and Mary Clare explored Riversdale for their CPVp

Stefano Gazzano has joined us almost every week from Civitavecchia, Italy, despite never having been to College Park. Initially he dropped us a line to say that he wasn’t going to be able to join us this week, as he was still recovering from surgery and also feeling under the weather from a second coronavirus vaccine. … But clearly he didn’t want to miss out, as we heard from him again later in the day to say that he was able to go out and walk 5K in 1h11. It will be a couple more weeks until he can run again, but he knows by now that we really don’t care how fast or slow you go at CPVp.

We did a slightly different distance challenge this week. Our friends at Lillie parkrun, Ann Arbor were also celebrating their 50th virtual event this week, so we thought it would be fun to team up with them. We set out to cover the round trip distance between College Park, MD and Ann Arbor, MI. Conveniently enough, it’s about 1,000 miles.

As many people know, Ann Arbor is one of America’s great college towns. Not so many know that they have a perfectly lovely parkrun event, which CPp’s Andrea Zukowski helped a local team to start in 2018. Their course, at Lillie Park, follows a delightful 1-mile circuit that includes a crossing of a boardwalk over a lake. … Well, at least it used to do that, before the boardwalk was a casualty of 2020. We hear that they will be designing a new course around the park that they can use until such time as the boardwalk is restored.

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It can get a little cold and snowy in Michigan in the winter, so they also have a backup course for when the regular route is impossible. We wouldn’t want anybody flying off an icy boardwalk into an even icier pond. Their winter backup course is a 6-lapper, with lots of twists and corners. Colin got to try it out when visiting Ann Arbor a couple of years ago, and found that it was surprisingly fun. A bit like a mashup of parkrun and short track speed skating.

With 925 miles contributed by CPVpers -- our second highest total ever -- plus an additional 175 miles from the Ann Arborites, we easily hit the 1,000 mile target. Enough, in fact, to take a slightly more scenic route. It wouldn’t take many miles of detour to take in three other parkrun communities that were contributing miles to the cause this week.

Livonia parkrun in the western suburbs of Detroit is the oldest US parkrun event, started way back in 2012. They have a regular crew that joins the Lillie virtual event.

Mansfield, OH parkrun in north central Ohio has a number of CPVp regulars. This week they contributed a good few miles to our total, and then retired for a nice coffee at their parkrun coffee spot, Relax, It’s Just Coffee in downtown Mansfield. (It’s an excellent coffee shop, with even more excellent pastries. Do stop by if you’re ever in the area.)

And closer to home we couldn’t pass up a visit to Kensington parkrun, who should have been celebrating their 3rd birthday this weekend.

Finally, in our 50th virtual event we already got to unveil our newest, and surely our last, virtual milestone badge. And we already had TWENTY SEVEN people who earned that badge by taking part every single week, for 50 weeks. Wow.

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Congrats to Lori on earning a 50-timer Gold Medal badge  

To put that in perspective, when CPp regular Frank Filteau earned a red 50 shirt in early 2018, he had done so in a little under a year, faster than anybody before him in the US. But even Frank missed a couple of weeks. Now 27 of you were able to do this in less than 11 months. So here’s a roll call of the ever presents:

  • Adrian Dover (in Newent, UK)
  • Andrea Zukowski
  • Anna Tinnemore
  • Cindy Cohen (mostly in Sandpoint, ID)
  • Colin Phillips
  • Diana Gough
  • Duane Rosenberg
  • Frank Snyder
  • Gloria Cottman
  • Gus Campbell
  • Janet Tate
  • Joan Heffernan (in Suffield, CT)
  • John Ramsey
  • Katie Hirsche
  • Kazuko Yatsushiro (in Berlin, Germany)
  • Keaton Ellis
  • Kristine Rogers
  • Larry Washington
  • Lisa Wilson
  • Lori Dominick
  • Paul Wester
  • Steve Feld (in Cary, NC)
  • Stewart Mayhew
  • Tara Mease
  • Teresa Perdomo
  • Trace Huard
  • Xander Mease

High fives to all of you!!

And there were donuts, too! Külli Crespin manages a string of donut stores, and she brought along some treats to our outdoor coffee meetup. Yum.

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Thanks Külli!

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Almonds by Joan Heffernan

All in the family

Long-time readers will recall the story of how last summer Malik Al-Jame was joined every week by his nephew Isaiah Dycks for a run on the Paint Branch Trail. Isaiah’s not so into the colder weather, so we haven’t seen him in a while. So we were super happy to see him back on the trail this week with uncle Malik. Welcome back!

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He's baaaack!

We were also thrilled to see the entire McElhenny family heading out for a 5K together on the trail. There was plenty of nature to enjoy along the trail this week -- birds, frogs, buds, and more. So no need to record times. And that’s just fine.

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Go Team McElhenny!

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, Kazuko Yatsushiro marshaled the entire family to contribute to this week’s mileage total. First, she headed out for a run with husband Uli. Then she went out later for a 5K with younger daughter Mika. And then later on she headed out for ice-cream with Mika and older daughter Lina. The ice-cream store is conveniently located 2.5km from home, for a 5K round trip. What’s more, their flavors include Earl Grey flavor. We didn’t know that was a thing!

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Who knew that Earl Grey ice-cream is a thing!

Closer to home, Diana Gough got in some extra miles by taking along Carlos and barkrunner Ruby. Diana confided that there might have been a treat from Vigilante Coffee included as an inducement.

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Diana recruited Carlos and Ruby for some extra miles

Out and About

As usual, there were CPVpers joining us from around the world.

Elizabeth Sheridan was exploring Roman history in St Albans, UK. Back in 270 CE when the walls of the town were built, it was known as Verulamium. At the time, it was Roman Britain’s third largest town and circled by a 16 foot wall. While not all of the wall has survived, some parts still stand about 13 feet high and you can trace the 2 mile perimeter of the old city, some of which lies along the course of St Albans parkrun. St Albans is also the childhood home of CPVp regular Tim Keer.

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Pretty Roman ruins in St Albans. Pretty much flooded.

Kelsey Mannix joined us from Fort Wayne, IN, which is her new home after graduating from UMD. Kelsey is now a multimedia journalist appearing on the local Fox55 TV station. She reports that it’s harder to find hills in Fort Wayne than in College Park.

Carlos Chaverri-Morales was running a half marathon in El Tejar, Costa Rica. With an elevation of 4,500 feet, that probably calls for some more cautious pacing.

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Carlos did a half marathon near home in Costa Rica

We were thrilled to welcome this week Gerry McGivney, who joined us from Navan, near Dublin, Ireland. Gerry visited us in person once before, on a hot August morning in 2019. (That was the same weekend that College Park was teeming with boy scouts, who were in town following the International Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.)

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Gerry McGivney in College Park in August 2019

Milestones and More

A busy week brought many milestones.

We welcomed TEN first-timers: Amy Johnson, Connie Cates, Emily Luteran, Gaurav Sharma, Gerry McGivney, Joshua Westgard, Kevin Lauffer, Lorraine Elberfeld, Matthew Brown, and Ralph Elberfeld.

FIVE more earned virtual High Five badges: Ellen Hamilton, Kathleen Phillips, Lucy (barkrunner), Marc Swisdak, and Robin Marshall-Walukonis.

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Ellen Hamilton in College Park on this weekend in 2019

A special shout out for Kath Phillips in Bristol, UK, Colin’s mum, who copy-edits nearly every word of these reports to ensure that her linguist son isn’t committing linguistic faux pas.

We had THREE new ten-timers this week: Caitlin Poremba, Carey White, and Lois Zukowski. Lois is Andrea Zukowski’s mom, in Michigan. So it’s a week of double recognition for the first moms of CPVp.

And we had FIVE new members of the 25-timer club, who now appear in our weekly results with a cake badge. (Why cake? Because our 25th virtual event was on our birthday.) Virtual kudos to Carolyn Kelley, Dami Alao, Jeff Rosenberg, Sam Phipps, and to barkrunner Scruffi.

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Scruffi is a 25-timer now!

A few other achievements that need a virtual high five this week.

Trace Huard set a big new PB, probably aided by the CP parkrun apricot shirt that he was wearing. Trace set his last PB in one of our in-person events way back in October 2017, in our 1st birthday event. 48 more CPps yielded no PBs. But he has been on fire during the pandemic, now almost 2 minutes faster than in late 2017.

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Trace Huard en route to (yet) another PB

Hannah Russell, who is a regular contributor to these reports, mentioned that she ran her first sub-30 5K in around 4 years. We checked, and found that in fact she beat her fastest ever time at CPp.

Larry Washington is counting down the days until (i) he turns 70, (ii) we have in person events, and so (iii) he can take a stab at the 70+ age-group record. This week he ran his fastest 5K since 2017, so he’s certainly on form. Just a few months to go until the birthday. And the one other piece is out of his hands.

Kudos to John Maneval, who headed over to the BWI Airport Trail to do an 8-miler, his longest run ever.

And two thumbs up to Christina McNamee-Mahaffey, who was cleared by her PT to run for the first time this year, and clearly was excited to get out to run with barkrunner Lucy.

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Christina is happy to be able to run again!

Virtual Volunteers

We don’t need to remind you -- at least we hope not -- that none of this would be possible without our crew of virtual volunteers, which includes a mix of ‘regulars’ and ‘rotators’ each week. Our virtual events require more manual labor to pull together all of the different activities and stories each week.

Angela Gentile: results (Facebook)
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: results, report, and propaganda
Meridith Phillips: results (Facebook) … and chalking
Hannah Russell: report
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Lisa Wilson: high level diplomacy … and chalking
Andrea Zukowski: results, email and photos

This week’s crew was so experienced that they were off and, well, running, with almost no training needed. And Meridith Phillips had the good idea to also take along a stick of chalk for her walk on the Paint Branch Trail.

We include Lisa Wilson on this week’s crew, not only for her chalking efforts, but also (and mostly) because of her diplomatic efforts on behalf of the DMV parkrun community this week. We know this is a bit vague, but you can ask her next time you see her.

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

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Chalkers Meridith and Lisa at work

Barkrunners

Shackelton had the right idea about beating the heat this weekend! Running through puddles and stopping by for a drink at a friend’s house. Meanwhile, his regular running buddy Angela Gentile was un-Shackled this week, doing a run-walk as her due date approaches.

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Shackleton's barkrunner pal Sophie left a bowl of water outside. Perfect!

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Angela - un-Shackled

On theme for their plumbing issues at home, Eli and Ellen found a traffic box decorated with jellyfish.

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Anybody know of a good plumber?

Lizzie didn’t quite understand how to use the trailside exercise equipment on the Northeast Branch Trail. But that’s totally understandable - it would be hard to do a lat pulldown without opposable thumbs!

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Yeah, that's roughly how that equipment works, Lizzie

New barkrunner Valor was back on the trail this week, enjoying a run with Danny, Minnie, and his barkrunner pal Theo.

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Theo and Valor enjoying the trail with their humans

Anna Weber wasn’t able to get Marlow to run with her this week. But her fitness tracker said that she went an extra mile this week while vacuuming up all the dog hair in her house.

Kristie Atwood ran the virtual Cherry Blossom 10 miler, and then barkrunners Roxie and Leo insisted on going out to smell every tree, fire hydrant, and flower along the way. At least the slow pace allowed for a recovery after the 10 mile run.

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What? You ran 10 miles already? We'll do extra sniffing so you can go slow.

Looking Back

In this week in 2020 we were entering perhaps the scariest phase of the pandemic. Not because of the numbers of cases or fatalities, but because we still knew so little. It was in late March that Maryland, together with many other states, issued a stay at home order. Most businesses were closed, and fewer people were going outside. Tests were scarce. We did not yet know so much about how the virus spreads. We had no idea how bad things would get or how long this would continue.

Thanks to input from community members, we were starting to see the benefit of sharing uplifting stories of people getting active outdoors. This helped to plant the seed for what turned into CPVp.

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Another seed was planted by the simple pleasure of random encounters with parkrunners on the local trails.

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March 2020 - Not so close encounters of a very welcome kind

We also were very concerned for the local businesses in our community. With tens of thousands of students and tens of thousands of employees gone from the city, College Park was a ghost town. You could run down the middle of US Route 1 at 5:30pm, rarely encountering traffic. This is not (remotely) normal. Most businesses were shut down. There were well-founded concerns that many wouldn’t survive.

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Early April 2020 - US Route 1 in College Park at 5:30pm. Empty.

One year on we know that business survival rates in this area have been better than in many other places, thanks to local community support. See this recent NPR story: How this stretch of Hyattsville businesses survived their worst year ever.

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Things were very different on this weekend in 2019. We were celebrating a new parkrunner of the month, and spirits were generally high.

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March 2019 - parkrunner of the month!

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March 2019 - Carly, Erin, and Dom enjoying an early spring day

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March 2019 - Sharlene as tail walker and paparazzi

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March 2019 - we miss seeing these friends on a Saturday morning

March of 2018 was a month with 5 Saturdays, so we can draw on memories from the 4th and 5th weekends of the month. For CPp #75 on 3/24/18 we saw by far our smallest crowd on a dry day in the past 3 years. Why so? Because it coincided with the launch of our sister event Kensington parkrun.

Nevertheless, there were many familiar faces along the trail.

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March 2018 - Marvin's 50th

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March 2018 - Violet and Lucy saying hi to Lisa at the turnaround

And there were also many familiar faces along the Rock Creek Trail in Kensington, enjoying the first official event there.

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March 2018 - some familiar faces at the Kensington parkrun launch

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March 2018 - more CPers checking out the trail in Kensington

The following week, on 3/31/18, we welcomed another new event that drew inspiration from College Park, as Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston became the first such event in New England.

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March 2018 - welcoming Jamaica Pond parkrun (Boston, MA)

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March 2018 - welcome first-timers the Aguilera-Kelley family!

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March 2018 - first-timers ringing the bell

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March 2018 - more first-timers. Welcome, Samirah!

Going back to this weekend in 2017 the first timers that day included all of the Ridge family … well, aside from Clark, who was already a regular. That day Violet Ridge completed the 5K with mom Lilly and brother Calvin in 1h13. 3 years later she had completed 70 CPps, and her PB was 24:xx.

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March 2017 - first time meeting all 4 Ridges. (Now there are six!)

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March 2017 - Rachel Lukens pushing Marty in the stroller

 

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March 2017 - welcome to Anthony Nolan (and Thomas) from PG Parks

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March 2017 - the waters part for a cyclist. We share the trail!

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March 2017 - happy to reach the turnaround

Looking Ahead

There’s no change this week in our expectations for when we’ll get to our “new normal” for CP parkrun, which will somehow combine the things that we most miss from our in person events, and the important lessons that we have learned from the past year. Our guess is late summer.

That’s partly due to the trajectory of the pandemic in our area. And partly due to the fact that we’ve seen no indication that parkrun HQ has plans to do anything about US events until the planned relaunch of English events in early June.

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John and Frank ran into each other at a 5K race in Rock Creek Park this week. Yes, some smaller races are now happening around the DMV.

Just as we hope that we’ll be having big outdoor get-togethers again by late summer, the current plan is for College Park life to be much more normal by late summer. UMD is planning on phased reopening over the coming months, with a return to default in-person operations by September.

As for whether these plans will work out. Who knows!

Some of the unbridled optimism of 4-6 weeks ago is turning to growing uncertainty. Vaccinations continue to move very quickly. 18 million Americans received a vaccine in just the past 7 days. In Maryland the rollout is covering roughly an additional 5% of the population each week. More and more CPVpers are getting vaccinated, and that’s a Very Good Thing.

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Spring is very much sprung. Roo found this magnolia on her walk in University Park.

But infections are also on the rise in some parts of the country. The most striking increases are in Michigan and the area around New York City. But cases are up in Maryland, too, especially further north in the state. We are by no means out of the woods yet.

It’s interesting to compare the US and UK trajectories for the pandemic. Both countries were in the midst of their worst stage of the pandemic at the start of 2021. Both had very high case and fatality rates, relative to other developed countries. Both rapidly ramped up aggressive vaccination programs, with similar numbers of doses delivered per capita (US: 41 doses per 100 people; UK 48 doses per 100 people). Both have followed generally similar prioritization for vaccinations, focusing first on seniors and more vulnerable populations.

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But there are some key differences between the two countries.

The UK vaccine rollout has leveraged the nationalized healthcare system that makes it easy to know how to reach most everyone. Prioritization has been simple, focusing mostly on 5-year age bands. The UK government responded to the surge in its homegrown B117 variant in December by deciding to focus on getting first shots to as many as possible, extending the interval between shots to 12 weeks. The UK is starting to relax restrictions. For example, K-12 schools re-opened a few weeks ago, and small in-person outdoor gatherings are allowed starting this week. And the uptake of vaccines has been high. Currently over 90% of UK seniors have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

In the US, in contrast, the lack of centralized health information has created a dizzying patchwork of approaches to vaccine distribution. Prioritization has been far more complex than in the UK. (The complexity often reflects well-intentioned healthcare choices.) The US has stuck closely to the 3- or 4-week intervals between mRNA vaccine shots that were used in clinical trials. So it has less of its population with first shots and more with second shots. US restrictions were never as tight as those in the UK, and the relaxation of restrictions has been a wild patchwork across states and counties. And, importantly, there are a lot more people in the US who are missing opportunities to get a vaccine. Current estimates are that around two-thirds of US seniors have had at least one shot.

This leads to different trajectories in the two countries. In the UK, the effects of vaccinating the most vulnerable populations are now clear to see, with fatalities and hospitalizations falling faster than overall infection rates. In the US that pattern is much less clear right now.

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Andrea and Colin are happy that all of the grandparents (in US and UK) are now vaccinated and looking forward to being able to do more in the not too distant future 

In both countries, infection rates are much lower than they were in January, but counts have plateaued in recent weeks. In the UK the plateau seems to be related to age. Infections are falling among seniors, but increasing among children, now that they’re back in school.

In both countries, hospitalizations are down relative to the winter peak. But whereas they are down by a factor of 7-8 in the UK, they are down by a factor of only 3-4 in the US.

In both countries, fatality rates are clearly down relative to the peak. But here the contrast between the two countries is especially stark. In the UK fatality rates have dropped from 18 per million per day to around 1 per million per day. In the US, on the other hand, fatality rates have dropped from around 10 per million per day to around 3 per million per day.

It could be that we are faring slightly better in Maryland, if we look at the trajectory of the latest surge. Relative to the low point earlier in March, fatality rates in the state seem to be more or less flat, hospitalizations are up 20-25%, and infection rates are up at least 50%. So it’s possible that we are showing greater protection of the most vulnerable in this wave. But it is still too early to tell.

By one month from now we might find ourselves in a much better situation. Or we might find ourselves increasingly facing up to lost opportunities, due to a mix of premature opening and (especially) due to high rates of vaccine hesitancy.

The situation in and around College Park may be especially uncertain. Overall, the population has been cautious, reopenings in the county have been slower, and some indicators suggest that there should be high levels of vaccine uptake. But other indicators make that less clear. And if you want to feel really despondent, head to downtown College Park on a Friday evening to see the hordes of students filling the bars. (To be clear, these are not representative of all students. But it’s alarming anyway.)

… all of which means that, while our prediction for the return of in-person events remains unchanged, we are not super confident about this.

In the meantime, however, we have our virtual community to sustain us, and April is one of the best months for getting active outdoors in the mid-Atlantic. So we’re looking forward to four more weeks of CPVps to round out a full year of virtual events.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Yogarshi and Neha came by the Paint Branch Trail for their run this week

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Michelle got in some track intervals for her CPVp this week

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Stewart is a 50-timer, despite a few weeks with a broken shoulder

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 See you next week!

 

 

Spring in our step (Virtual Report 49)

You definitely put an extra spring in our step this week. Whether you were sharing the joy of running faster or further than you thought you could, or sharing the news of getting a vaccine shot, or simply sharing an appreciation of a beautiful spring day, it was all contagious, and it left us feeling better too. Thank you!

This week we have our regular features for our CPVp report, plus news on some coming attractions, including merch, and plans for celebrating our 50th virtual event next Saturday. We’re counting on you to be there. … And of course you’ll be there, because “there” is wherever on earth you happen to be next Saturday.

So what was everybody up to this weekend? Read on to see ...

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Nina's rating for Saturday's weather

Facts and Figures

  • 196 virtual parkrunners
  • 790 miles covered
  • 5 first-timers
  • 4 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 3 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 1 new 25-TIMER badge earned
  • 18 barkrunners
  • 7 virtual volunteers

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 49

Stat(s) of the week: This week we have a stats puzzle courtesy of Mary Hicks. Mary joins us regularly from Rockford, IL, and her sister Karen Wojahn joins from Green Bay, WI. They’re aunt and mom of College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn. Mary noted that she and Karen appeared in adjacent positions in our results table the past 3 weeks, despite walking separately, 200 miles apart, and often different distances. (We adjust all reported times to 5K equivalents.) How (un)likely is that?

Good question!

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Mary (left) and Karen (right) - walking together while 200 miles apart

To figure this out, we looked at all 13 CPVps from 2021 so far. Karen and Mary appeared with times in 8 of those weeks.

Setting aside the week when it’s so snowy in Wisconsin that Karen pulls out her skis, she and Mary tend to walk at a pace that covers 5K within around 2 minutes of each other, in the 50-60 minutes range.

In those same weeks, there were an average of 15-16 times recorded in the 50-60 minute range, i.e., one person crossing the virtual finish line every 40 seconds.

In the past 3 weeks, Mary and Karen’s times were 25s, 26s, and only 9s apart. So, given the typical spacing of times and how close Mary and Karen’s times were, it was pretty likely that they would appear adjacent in the results table.

But if all that we knew is that Mary and Karen were walking at their regular pace, in the 50-60 minute range, how likely is it that they would finish in adjacent positions? The probability would be around 2 out of 16 each week, or 0.125.

So the probability of this happening 3 weeks in a row is 0.125^3, or 1/512, i.e., 0.002, or 0.2%. So, not very likely.

Thanks for the puzzle, Mary!

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Ok, so it's not spring everywhere yet. This was the ice on Fish Creek Bay in Wisconsin during Karen Wojahn's walk this week.

Need for Speed

Lots of you were feeling speedy this week. We don’t normally focus on the times, but this week it was hard to ignore your achievements.

Jackie Hayes has been looking to break 30 minutes for 5K for a couple of years. And this week she did it! Congratulations, Jackie! She ran her PB at the Benjamin Banneker Recreation Center in DC, which has an unusual 3-lane square running track, and an interesting history. The rec center was built in 1934 and was the premier Black recreation center in the then-segregated city. In the spring of 1954, it was one of the first centers in the city to be desegregated. The center’s namesake, Benjamin Banneker, born in 1731, was a free African-American author, abolitionist, astronomer, and surveyor who worked on the original survey of the boundary of the District of Columbia. Among his many other accomplishments are his astronomical calculations that factored into his published almanacs from 1792 to 1798. He also wrote in his journals about the Brood X (17-year) cicadas that are set to make their return later this spring!

Malik Al-Jame recorded his first ever sub-20 clocking. He was helped in this by expert pacing from David Lai (also PB!!) and Dami Alao. Maybe those crazy running + weights sessions are paying off.

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Speedsters!

These three were among the many parkrunners who this week combined their CPVp with the FitDC HerStory 5K. While the race marquee is usually at Freedom Plaza, this year the virtual format allowed participants to partake in their own neighborhood or along suggested routes in the District. The race organizers also showcase DC women leaders on their website and partner with local organizations such as the National Women’s History Museum to celebrate women.

Kristen Maneval took (yet) another minute from her CPVp PB.

Peter Rosenberg ditched the parents in Mechanicsburg, PA and smashed his PB, running sub-24 for the first time. Not too much longer and he’ll be giving (great) uncle Duane a run for his money.

And we were especially happy to see Lori Dominick’s delight when she realized that she had beaten her parkrun PB with a 45:xx time. She adjusted her glasses as if she had been reading wrong. And then headed for a well earned prize of pancakes.

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Nice PB, Lori!

It wasn’t all about the pace. Endurance helps, too.

In Riverdale Park, Jan Matis did her first ever 15K run. She’s preparing for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, and she practically has the distance covered already. Nice!

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15K completed!

And it was a double celebration for Clark Ridge. In addition to celebrating his birthday (21 again!) he reached a big number in his streak of running every day: 3,000 days of running at least 3 miles every single day. We knew he was fast -- now we know that he’s also bulletproof!

Out and About

As always, we love hearing from you wherever you are in the world. Many of us in the College Park area don’t get out much these days. And it’s not so easy for you to visit us, either. So hearing about your adventures is the next best thing.

Elizabeth Sheridan, normally a Roosevelt Island parkrun regular, is currently in the UK and checking out parkrun courses on Saturdays. This week she checked in from Wimbledon Common, site of the second ever parkrun venue (they weren’t even called parkruns back then; now there are 2,000 locations). Elizabeth sent us this picture of Wimbledon Common’s famous windmill, which also hosts the venue for the post-parkrun tea room. (What, you thought they would be coffee drinkers?!)

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Wimbledon Common windmill

Louise Godley, who hails from a London exurb, pointed out that she wasn’t aware of the windmill at Wimbledon Common, and was only aware of the Wombles. This, dear reader, practically forces us to tell you about this 1970s stop motion hit (for English 7-year olds, at least) that is roughly a mashup of Wallace and Gromit and Al Gore. Wombles are pointy nosed creatures that live in burrows under Wimbledon Common, and whose main goal in life is to pick up and recycle litter that they find.

Continuing the London theme, Tim Keer was out and about in Michigan, where he came across a road sign that reminded him of two noted English soccer teams. Tim writes:

“I walked 8 miles in Chelsea, Michigan, today (5k in 38:56). I was hoping to find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time: how did the founders of Chelsea, Michigan, manage to name their village (in 1850) after the best football team in the world, when that football team (Chelsea FC) was only founded in 1905? Alas, I found no new information to shed light on that conundrum. (Image lightly edited for dramatic effect.)’

We admit that this got us to searching a little on Google Maps and Street View, where we found the original sign from Tim’s picture, and also found that Chelsea, MI is much closer to the freeway than is Manchester, MI. So, don’t believe everything that you read on the internet.

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Wishful thinking

Hemant and Vidya Joshi (Neha’s parents) again joined us from Pune, India. Pune is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, which is going to play a key role in how the world emerges from the pandemic.

With their 9h30 time difference, we’re pretty sure that Hemant and Vidya were this week’s first finishers. We confess that we were not aware that Indian Standard Time places over a billion people on a time zone that is a half-hour offset from most of the planet. We were even less aware that a conference held here in Washington DC in 1884 established Bombay Time as a time zone that was 4h51 ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It appears that this time zone continued to be used through the 1950s. We’re just glad that we didn’t need to schedule Zoom meetings with folks around the world back then.

Pete and Caitlin Poremba had a busy day in East Central Ohio. After fueling up at the Maple Days pancake breakfast, they headed to the other bank of the Tuscarawas River to take in the Canal Lands Park Towpath Trail. Caitlin biked while Pete ran, as a warmup for her track team workout later in the day.

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Lara Ehrenhofer added to the historical edification by sending us this picture of her on the line of the old Berlin Wall during her CPVp. The Berlin Wall physically separated Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Berlin is now a thriving international city, but it was not so long ago that West Berlin was a walled island.

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A little more history. Alyssa Heintzelmann joined us this week from St Mary’s City, MD, where she is in college. St Mary’s City was in the news this week, as the Washington Post reported on archaeologists’ discovery of the earliest colonial site in Maryland, from 1634, after a search that went back to the 1930s.

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed five first-timers: V, Murphy, Juan Melendez, Tori Reese, and Heather Winingham. Barkrunner V earns the distinction of being the virtual parkrunner with the shortest name. Juan came along to the Paint Branch Trail with regular virtual parkrunner Diana Claros. And Tori and Heather are colleagues of regular parkrunner Stewart Mayhew. Welcome to all! Now you know where to find us every week.

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Welcome to Juan and Diana!

This week’s four 5-timers, earning a High Five badge, were Mike Zukowski (Andrea’s brother), Patrice Anderson, Russell Dickerson, and barkrunner Coney.

We had three new earners of Ten Timer Turtle badges: Dan Pearlstein, Elizabeth Sheridan, and Michelle Caffee Phillips.

Michelle typically heads out for a longer run with Andrea Maas in Greensboro, NC on a Saturday. But Andrea was healing a torn meniscus in her knee (ouch!), so Michelle joined her for a shorter jaunt. That’s what friends are for!

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Andrea and Michelle took it easy this week

And this week Janel Niska became the 142nd member of our 25-timer club. Janel was out a couple of weeks ago, as she was tied up with some big exams for her graduate program (done - yay!), so it was great to see her back out on the trail this Saturday.

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There's no hurry at CPVp. Just getting outside on the trail is good for the soul

Virtual Volunteers

Thanks, as always, to our crew of virtual volunteers. Now with nearly 200 people taking part weekly, it definitely takes a village.

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

Welcome back to the crew this week for Lisa Shiota, who combined her own CPVp with the Cherry Blossom (virtual) 5K.

The Cherry Blossom races are among our favorite of the year each spring. Running with thousands of people around Hains Point and the Tidal Basin when the cherry trees are at peak is just magical. This year you can take part twice, as the organizers are holding spring virtual 5K and 10-mile events, running from now through April 11th, and they also hope to offer an in person race on September 12th. Tempting!

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

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Thanks for joining the volunteer crew this week, Lisa!

Barkrunners

With the great spring weather, it was a good day to be a barkrunner. Well, mostly good.

Marlow was skeptical about this whole barkrunner thing. He walked about a block with Anna Weber and clearly was not yet sold. Naps FTW.

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Who thought this was a good idea?

After a 4 mile run with Angela Gentile, barkrunner Shackleton got to visit with friends this week at our parkrun picnic!

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Shack leading the way

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Catching up with friends

Pakora posed with some cherry blossoms after a 3 mile walk/jog with Megan Newcombe. (Yeah, dad Pratyush was off doing some kind of crazy marathon training thing. But where’s the fun in that!)

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Love those blossoms!

Scooter was multitasking this week with the fam. He headed to the vet this week to get his nails trimmed after a family walk around College Park.

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Scooter enjoyed his walk with Rachel, Jeff, and Felix

Team Kind’s barkrunners Coney and Walker had a relaxing time in the sun after their 2.75 mile excursion in Michigan.

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Somebody was a little tired after their virtual parkrun

Mary Anderson had a couple of border collies visiting and had to keep them at bay so that no one got dragged off while running - a good full body workout!

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Hold on tight!

Eli found another wall mural in Hyattsville, this time with a friend! New barkrunner Murphy tagged along to see what all the fuss was about. Welcome Murphy!

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Eli had a friend for his art walk this week

Finally, Lucy and her human Christina McNamee-Mahaffey had to contend with sideways winds in the Outer Banks while they got in their 2.5 miles. Poor Lucy kept getting sand burs, but as soon as they were out she was a happy barkrunner again.

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Oh that's not Lucy. That's Nathan, recovering from his virtual parkrun in Italy.

Looking Back

One year ago, in this week in 2020, the world was shutting down around us. We weren’t used to restrictions, so every new announcement seemed like a really big deal. Until the next one came along.

We erected a Hump sign at Hump’s Crossing, as additional support for parkrunners visiting at any time of the week.

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Looking out for you 24/7 at Hump's Crossing (until it walked away)

A PG Parks infographic is a reminder of what we did and didn’t know at that time. It advised people to not touch playground equipment. We now now that surfaces are not a major source of transmission, but that airborne transmission from person to person is a bigger deal than we realized a year ago.

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One year ago

On this weekend in 2019 we marked Colin’s 100th run. With work travels putting him at parkrun events in Seattle and Ann Arbor the previous two weeks and in Boulder and the UK the following two weeks, much planning had gone into ensuring that Colin would be at home in College Park for his 100th run.

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That same week we found Ben Kaczmarski setting a PB while pushing a double stroller.

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Noemi Mercado brought along her dad Oscar as a first timer.

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We found tailwalker Barbara Gusack wearing a buff pulled up as a mask, presumably to guard against the cold. How differently we look at that today.

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We also look differently today at pictures of high fives at the finish line. Who knew how much we would miss that.

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Wayne Dunbar first joined us 2 years ago

On this weekend in 2018 it was St Patrick’s Day, March 17th. We found Jake Foley running in a kilt for the occasion.

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Jake was ready for St Patrick's Day

We found a nice new asphalt surface on the upper stretches of our trail, which made it feel super speedy. (That surface didn’t last so long, as it got torn up by storm waters and by subsequent trail repair work.)

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Nice new trail surface

And not too far away, we found our friends at Kensington parkrun putting their gear through its paces ahead of their launch the following weekend.

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The Kensington crew was ready!

In 2017 it seems that winter was proving more stubborn. With snow on many stretches of the course, Colin and Andrea headed out on Friday night to shovel a clear path.

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Clearing a path

We found Diana and Carlos Gough enjoying a run together.

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And high fives from Jen Murphy to her dad Gus Campbell as they passed on the trail.

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A first-timer that day was Cathyn Burby, who in those days was based in DC and was a regular at Roosevelt Island parkrun. Later that year she moved to Seattle, where she helped to launch the first parkrun event in the Pacific Northwest. It’s through Cathryn that we got to know her mom, Joan Heffernan, who this week will complete her 50th virtual parkrun with us, despite being based in northern Connecticut. In this picture from 2017 we see Cathryn trailing Tara and Xander Mease (then aged 4), who in turn are trailing Marvin Russell. Imagine being able to do that nowadays, Marvin!

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We also note that that week’s field had 46 finishers, of which only 3 finished in over 40 minutes. Those were different times. Nowadays we’re very happy that fewer than half of the weekly participants in CPVp record a 5K time below 40 minutes.

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Smaller crowd back in early 2017

Oh, and one more memory, a slightly more recent one. Remember last summer when we did a virtual civil rights tour over the course of 3 weekends? Our route was guided by the recently created US Civil Rights Trail. The Washington Post this week featured a newly published book that is a guide to the USCRT. Looks like an interesting read.

Looking Ahead

There’s no change this week in our best guess on when we might get back to being able to hold in person events. July or August would be our current guess, with similar odds on whether local restrictions or parkrun HQ turn out to be the final piece in the puzzle.

We remain on edge about the local coronavirus situation. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Maryland continue to rise, albeit slower than in previous waves. The Detroit and New York City areas are seeing more pronounced effects, possibly driven by new virus strains such as B117 from the UK. It’s possibly also driven by reopenings that are moving faster in some parts of the state than here in Prince George’s County. Locally we’re bracing ourselves for possible fallout from student spring break travel. Many parts of Europe are being hit by a third wave of infections.

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Sometimes the news has us looking out for one of these. (This week some of our 100 timers mentioned that they didn't realize there was a bench along the trail. So Lisa Wilson helpfully labeled it for them.)

Meanwhile, in more encouraging news, the pace of vaccinations continues to accelerate. Maryland (and the rest of the US) has now given around 40 shots for every 100 people. Around 25% of the population has received at least one dose. Again this week, around 5% of the entire population received a vaccination dose (including all four of CP parkrun’s most regular volunteers!). This is all very encouraging for now, though stubbornly high rates of vaccine hesitancy could yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Getting vaccinated ourselves provides some degree of protection. But the much bigger benefit comes from shrinking the unvaccinated population to such an extent that the virus recedes from circulation.

We are seeing more evidence of organized running events popping up in our region. This past weekend Montgomery County Road Runners organized their Piece of Cake 10K for a reduced field of 108 finishers, about 10% of them regular parkrunners. We see advertisements for a race with many hundreds of participants on the Dulles Greenway at the beginning of May. And most relevant to our own future plans, Prince George’s Parks is organizing a 5K event at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on May 1st. PG Parks are our landowner. Most of these events seem to be going ahead with some restrictions on distancing etc. But this is more local event activity than we have seen in a long time.

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CPVp is not a race. Case in point: you wouldn't see many people stopping in the middle of a race to take in the views like this.

Milestone Shirts

This week parkrun HQ announced changes to its milestone shirt program. This is the program that has in the past awarded a free shirt for those who complete 50, 100, etc. parkruns. We estimate that around 200 of these shirts have been earned in College Park in 2017-2020.

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Milestone shirts in College Park in early 2019

 

The changes are almost entirely neutral-to-positive for our community.

The shirts will now cost £15 including shipping to any location worldwide. That’s close to what US-based parkrunners were paying already, so it doesn’t change much for us. But this change will make a big difference to the sustainability of the central infrastructure that we depend on for our free, weekly events (that infrastructure is almost entirely in the UK), so that is a positive.

With the charges come the ability to order replacements, when you lose, wear out, or outgrow your existing shirt. And all shirts will come in kids’ sizes, too. If you have seen Xander Mease swimming in his red 50 shirt, you’ll understand that this is good news!

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Coming soon -- better fitting shirts for kids!

There will now be equalizing of milestone shirts for running/walking and volunteering. This reflects the view, which we share, that volunteering is every bit as valuable as running or walking. Until now there was just the purple 25-timer volunteer shirt. This change means, for example, that Hump Plotts (156 times volunteering) will now join the ranks of our 100-clubbers.

Finally, as part of the equalization, there will now also be a 25-timer milestone shirt for running/walking. By our estimate, this will right away make around 100 more College Park parkrunners eligible for a milestone shirt, should they want one.

These new changes come into effect on September 1st.

In the past we have a strong record of celebrating milestones with cake and sashes. So when we re-start our in person events, this sounds like a good excuse for the mother of all milestone celebrations!

Coming Celebrations

Next week is our 50th College Park Virtual parkrun. One year ago, we definitely did not expect that this is what we would be preparing for right now. But connecting virtually over the past year is FAR preferable to not connecting at all. So we think there’s much to celebrate.

Also, it’s the third birthday of our sister event, Kensington parkrun.

It’s also the 50th event of our virtual sister event, Lillie Virtual parkrun in Ann Arbor, MI. They started one week after us last spring, and they snuck in an extra event somewhere in December.

At LVp they roll pretty similarly to us, but with a couple of cool features that we don’t have. They have special milestone badges for their barkrunners. And they have a monthly bingo challenge to keep people motivated, including things like walking a mile backwards, or wearing green for a St Patrick’s Day run. One of the squares in their March challenge is to go for a run on a day with 50+ degree weather. That could be challenging in March in Michigan.

One more thing to celebrate: the weather forecast for Saturday morning in the DMV is PERFECT. Mid-50s at 9am, mid-60s by late morning coffee time.

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Tuffi's excited about the spring weather

So what are we planning …

  1. Simply get outside and get moving, alone or with friends or family. Maybe stop by the Paint Branch Trail if you’re in the College Park area. Or come to the Discovery District Park (next to The Hall CP) around 11-12. Maybe grab a coffee from a favorite local business en route. Or head to Beach Drive in Kensington to run on the Kensington parkrun course to mark their birthday.
  2. Virtual distance challenge. We plan to team up with Lillie Virtual parkrun to try to jointly cover the distance from College Park to Ann Arbor and back, a little over 1,000 miles. Every mile helps!
  3. We’re working on something more that we hope to be ready to share with you in the next couple of days. We may update this page, or you may need to look out for Andrea’s weekly CPVp email that generally comes on Fridays.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Paul is out there in all weathers. Including the current awesome spring weather

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This week Yogarshi helped pace Neha to her first 10 miler (virtual Cherry Blossom 10)

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The trail is looking more and more like spring

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See you next week!

 

 

Downhill from here … mostly (Virtual Report 48)

This week we saw ample evidence that spring is finally here in the DC area. If it feels like it’s a bit later this year than last year, that’s because it is. This year’s peak cherry blossom period is expected to be on the late side, relative to the past couple of decades, around 2 weeks later than last year’s March 20th peak.

We had warm days. The trees are sprouting new buds wherever you look. Crocuses have been joined by daffodils and other early flowers. Birds are getting into the mood for pairing and nesting. And parkrunners were tempted to get outside in shorts for the first time in months. We also saw a few more people on the Paint Branch Trail on Saturday. One of your report writers even managed to pick up a sunburn at the virtual coffee meetup. The times are a changing!

So here’s this week’s digest of cool things that happened at CP Virtual parkrun #48.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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It's happening, y'all!

 

Facts and Figures

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

Stat(s) of the week: One year ago, on March 12th, we told the community that our events would be paused for a while. It wasn’t until the start of May that we launched our virtual parkruns. In the 48 CPVps since then, we have welcomed:

  • 470 1-4 timers
  • 317 5-timers
  • 229 10-timers
  • 141 25-timers
  • 72 40-timers (who are on track to reach 50 CPVps by late May)

It took around 3 years of events to reach the same number of 25-timers that we have reached in 10 months of virtual parkruns. There is a lesson or two to be learned from that, we suspect.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 48

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Thanks to Rebecca and Joe for bringing cookies to go with our coffees this week

Home ...

Spring didn’t only bring out the buds and the birds. It also brought more parkrunners to College Park and to the Paint Branch Trail.

The chalkers were back! Maybe their hands thawed enough to be able to write again.

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Wise advice

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Cindy Cohen was back in town for a brief visit. We enjoy seeing her pictures from her mountain runs in northern Idaho, but it was great to see her in person this week.

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Welcome back, Cindy!

The warmer weather inspired Neha Joshi to put in a time trial, and she came within seconds of her parkrun PB.

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Jackie Hayes and Andrea Solan were back on the familiar trail after some time away.

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… And Away

As usual, this week many of our virtual parkrunners were getting the miles in far, far away from College Park.

It must have been raining a bit in the UK (shocking!), because Roosevelt Island regular Elizabeth Sheridan found an ample supply of mud on her test of the parkrun course alongside the River Thames in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK.

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Uhh, thanks, but no thanks

Many of our UK-based parkrunners were dealing with what Winnie the Pooh would describe as a rather blustery day. As proof we offer this picture from Emma Bradley, who did her miles by the mouth of the Thames in Shoeburyness.

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Your weather report

Emma Keer’s run added to her collection of streets for her CityStrides challenge. She has now completed 85% of Ann Arbor’s 1300 streets!

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Looking for something, Emma?

And Neil Jograj and Julie Russell checked in from Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain, GA, where spring seems to be significantly more advanced than it is in Maryland (or Michigan).

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Spring in Georgia

When I’m Sixty Four

A special shout out this week to Michael Phipps, who ran a 6.4 miler in Mansfield, OH to mark his 64th birthday. He started on the Mansfield parkrun section of the B&O Railway trail, but continued way beyond the normal turnaround, to get in the needed miles.

“Will you still need me,
Will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?”

Fun fact: The Beatles’ When I’m sixty-four appeared on the 1967 album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it was apparently one of the first songs that Paul McCartney ever wrote, at the age of 14, when he “wasn’t yet sure that rock ‘n roll was happening”.

Don’t be shy about sharing your birthdays when they fall close to a (virtual) parkrun day. We’re suckers for celebrating!

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Happy birthday, Michael

It’s not easy being green

Somehow St Patrick’s Day crept up on us this year, but fortunately some of you are paying closer attention.

Külli Crespin and Teresa Perdomo can generally be counted upon to raise our parkrun fashion game. Their green tutus did not disappoint.

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Every day is a good day for a tutu

There were multiple Leprechaun sightings in Greensboro, NC. Andrea Maas, Terri Hardin Ramsey, and Michelle Caffee Phillips grabbed a selfie with one of them!

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Leprechaun alert!

Meanwhile, Jen Matis resourcefully repurposed her holiday elf socks to be Leprechaun socks for a St. Patrick’s themed run.

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Leprechauns and elves have similar tastes in socks

 

Milestones and More

A big welcome to our one human first-timer this week: Griffin Rice joined as part of a big Team Rice outing, together with mom Amy, brothers Sawyer and Henry, and barkrunner Tucker.

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Three fifths of Team Rice this week

Two earned HIGH FIVE badges this week. Xinzi He is a veteran parkrunner, now getting back into the running groove. James Schneider is a veteran parkstroller, to the extent that a 1-year old can be a veteran anything. While mom Erin was busy working this week, James proved to be an able substitute on Team Schneider, turning in a mile and a half on his little legs. Impressive!

This week three earned TEN TIMER TURTLE badges: Jorge Aguilera, Mariángel Villalobos, and barkrunner Dolly. Jorge has joined us many times for our in person events, and Dolly was a regular before her human went and moved to New Jersey. Mariángel is among those who are new to the community since the start of the pandemic. We’re looking forward to meeting her in person soon!

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The dude on the left may have done 250 parkruns. 9924 humans have done that. But Dolly has now done 10 virtual barkruns. Very few pups have earned that distinction.

Of this weeks’ three new 25-timers, two are barkrunners. Lizzie took her crew (Clare Imholtz, Ginny Fromel, and Joanne Smith) to Wheaton Regional Park this week. Pakora was seen leading his pack (Pratyush and Megan) on the Paint Branch Trail.

And it was the 25th time this week for Kristie Atwood, who was spreading smiles along the trails of College Park. Kristie first joined us last summer, so the biggest crowd of parkrunners that she has seen at Acredale Park is about 6. We can’t wait to introduce her to more of our friends when she gets to do her first old-style event.

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Good morning, Kristie!

It wasn’t just the milestones that we were cheering for this week. Lori Domnick ran her fastest 5K in nearly 3 years. Zak Mellen let it rip for the first time in a while, netting his fastest time in 20 months. Kristen Maneval continues to take a hatchet to her recent PBs. And Jeremy Rueter just keeps on extending his longest run, this week up to 11 miles.

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Masked PB for Lori!

This week’s fastest time was by Josh Weiss, who set a 5K PB of 19:02. He seemed disappointed to not crack 19 minutes, but we’d take a PB any day. (Mostly in our dreams, these days.) His time put him just a few seconds ahead of Simon Wraight, running in Concord, NH … but Simon confessed that his time was “gravity assisted”, i.e., his route had 400’ of descent in the space of 5K.

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Speedy!

Speaking of assisted times, Duane Rosenberg appears in this week’s results with a 5K time of 21:18. That’s his fastest parkrun time since 2017. This came as a bit of a surprise. Duane was feeling a little off overnight after getting the 1-shot Johson & Johnson vaccine the day before. He certainly wasn’t expecting a fast run. He suspects that his Garmin is to blame for mis-measuring the route. But maybe COVID vaccines actually make you run faster? We encourage you to try one at the first opportunity, just in case.

We’re definitely not all about the speed. But we get a kick out of pushing the limits sometimes, and we love celebrating you when you do.

Virtual Volunteers

Thank you, as always, to the wonderful virtual volunteer crew who keep us chugging along through all seasons. This week’s CPVp was brought to you by:

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

This week it was especially heart-warming to see the many ways in which volunteers and other community members were supporting each other, whether through online cheerleading on our social media threads, or through chalking on the trail.

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

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Colin's looking forward to when the CP parkrun results again compile automagically

Barkrunners

Why do we put the barkrunner section this deep into the report? Well, it’s one way to get you to scroll this far.

This week newly adopted barkrunner Valor joined Danny Walker for his very first virtual barkrun. Welcome, Valor!

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Welcome Valor!

Also, Marlow joined parkrunner Anna Weber for the first time this week. A native of the couch environment, Marlow walked outdoors, and even ran a little bit. We look forward to hearing more of his adventures as he graduates from barksleeper to barkrunner!

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Marlow in his natural habitat

Gifford stole his human’s apricot parkrun shirt after a 6.2 mile run full of blue skies and hills. Maybe Gifford needs to organize with some other barkrunners to petition for official barkrunner merch so the dogs won’t have to share with their humans anymore. (There’s a new parkrun Australia store … but it has things like socks and visors. Nothing much for barkrunners.)

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This didn't happen when Dan was in England

Shackleton met a toy train for the first time this weekend on his run, barking at it as furiously as if it were a squirrel. He has to protect his humans from these weird things moving around that don’t smell like any animal he knows!

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What is this strange animal?

Barkrunner Dolly walked with Rory this week for his first 5K since having knee surgery. (Rory’s surgery, that is. Dolly is fine.)

Sophie McCormick** got in some extra miles with her humans Emily and Kyle on the trails of College Park, after which she was very ready for a nap. (**Sophie is one of 2 barkrunners listed in our CPVp database with a surname. That’s because we have two Sophies. There’s probably a better solution to this, but it’s above our pay grade.)

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Sophie after getting in the extra miles

Meanwhile, in Greensboro, NC barkrunner Shannon got a special treat, getting out for a walk with Carly Maas, who was home from College Park for spring break, and her friend Blair Ramsey. (By the way, we highly recommend this piece by Blair from one year ago. Hark the sound. It’s about her journey as a competitive runner, coming to terms with the adverse effects of intense training. We know of many similar stories, and it’s one more reason why we’re happy to offer an outlet for young runners that is quite deliberately non-competitive.)

Finally, barkrunner Oliver chose to skip the running part and focus on scavenging for scraps and rubs, as he joined the outdoor coffee meetup in College Park. He found plenty of friends this week.

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Oliver made lots of friends

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Lest we be accused of dog-bias. Meet Louise and Anne's stretching coaches

Looking Back

On March 12th 2020 we shared the news that we would be suspending events for a while. That came at the end of a very memorable day.

At the start of that Thursday, we were in intense discussions with other DMV parkrun teams about whether or not to proceed with Saturday events. UMD had announced 36 hours earlier that it was planning to hold classes online through mid-April, but the town and campus were still teeming with people ahead of Spring Break. Around the country, more and more shutdowns were being announced. The previous day the WHO had declared the SARS-COV2 epidemic to be a pandemic. A few hours later the NBA suspended its season, which felt like a big move at the time.

By that afternoon the discussions were moot. In the space of a couple of hours Governor Hogan announced statewide restrictions, parkrun announced a suspension of all US events, and then UMD basically announced that Spring Break was starting a day early and encouraged people to get out of town ASAP.

Our announcement seems quaint in retrospect. We said we’d be paused “at least through the end of March”. We really had no clue.

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We forgot to say *which* March

College Park turned from a bustling college town into a ghost town almost overnight.

One thing that we also wrote, on that same post:

“We'll miss our weekly meetups, but we don't plan to disappear entirely. We plan to keep sharing stories to help us stay motivated and healthy while we're on pause.”

At least that part turned out to be true.

By Saturday March 14th we were already receiving and sharing stories about how people were staying active. We had no idea just how big a part that would play in the coming year.

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3/14/20 - Gus, Cora, and Jessica were already checking in with us

One year earlier, on the second Saturday of 2019, we were celebrating Samantha Schneider’s 10th 5K. That coincided with Yancira Amaya’s turn to lead the show, assisted by a great crew from the Fit for Christ boot camp.

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2019 - Chilly morning for Samantha's 10th CP parkrun

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2019 - Yancira leads the crew

Among that day’s first timers was Joe White, who Rebecca encouraged to come along to meet her crazy new friends in College Park.

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2019 - Joe's first time

On that day we also witnessed one of the most inspiring efforts that we have ever seen at CP parkrun. First-timer Deborah Riordan was walking with friends at the back of the pack. She was walking with a stick and was moving deliberately, close behind some other walkers, but the tailwalkers did not notice anything unusual.

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2019 - Deborah Riordan inspires

On the return journey from the turnaround it became clearer that Deborah was slowing, and struggling. It wasn’t clear why, until shortly before Hump’s Crossing, when she sat down on the ground and removed both her legs. By adjusting her dual prosthetic legs, she was able to make it the rest of the way back to the park, finishing in a time of 1h48. We did not realize at the time that Deborah had probably received the new legs only shortly beforehand, and so walking a 5K was a bit of an overreach at the time.

We reached out to Deborah afterwards to convey our support and admiration, but we never heard back. Maybe College Park had become associated with painful memories. But we were very happy this week to find that she has since had great success in getting fitted with new prosthetic legs that allow her to run again, according to this post on the Amputee Blade Runners Facebook page. That’s fantastic to see!

On this weekend in 2018 we had our first ever female first finisher. Rose Penfold left everybody else in her wake, finishing in a time of 18:41. This remains the official CP parkrun female course record, though Katie Hirsche has since run faster times on the same course as part of our virtual parkruns.

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2018 - Rose Penfold leaves everybody in her wake

3 weeks later Rose led the launch of Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston, an event that she co-founded, with support from the College Park crew. And 2 weeks after that she surprised herself and others when she was the 26th female finisher in the Boston Marathon. In atrocious conditions, where many elites failed to finish, she somehow managed to run close to her best in the cold, wet, and windy conditions. In fact, she finished just 4 minutes behind Molly Huddle, US record holder in the 10,000m. (Molly’s 10K best time amounts to a pair of back-to-back 15-minute 5Ks. She’s fast.)

On that day Steve and Cindy Feld took their first spin leading the event. Of course, they did great. Nowadays, they’re helping to keep the Durham, NC parkrun community going during the pandemic. This week, with more and more getting vaccinated, they were with a group of Durham parkrunners on their local trail.

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2018 - Steve and Cindy leading the show in College Park

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2021 - Steve and Cindy leading the show in Durham, NC, where more and more folks are getting vaccines

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2018 - Joel Goldberg's first time

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2018 - Neil and Anna with breakfast and barcodes. We can't wait to be able to gather back inside The Board and Brew

On this weekend in 2017 we made one of our first parkrunner of the month awards, to Crystal Bergemann. Paul Wester joined us for the first time. And we welcomed Nicole Loots, visiting from Richmond, VA, where 3 months later she started Deep Run parkrun. (Check it out some time -- let’s just say that the downhills are really good. And the people.)

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2017 - Crystal was our parkrunner of the month for March

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2017 - Paul Wester's first time

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2017 - Nicole Loots learning the ropes ahead of starting a parkrun in Richmond, VA

Looking Ahead

Well, it has been an interesting week in terms of things that affect our return to “normal”. We’re not sure that our estimate of a late summer return has changed much. But the rationale has changed.

Earlier this week, to the surprise of many, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a relaxation of many COVID-19 restrictions. As is customary, counties are allowed to impose tighter restrictions, and later in the week Prince George’s County announced its milder lifting of restrictions.

These announcements were accompanied by messages around the improvement of the coronavirus situation in the state and county. Well, that was true a week or two ago. Not so much right now. Maryland has seen an 18% increase in cases this week compared to the previous week. That’s the first clear increase in cases since the dark days at the beginning of the year. Fatalities and hospitalizations have continued to trend downwards, but those are lagging indicators.

The clearly good news is that the rate of vaccination continues to ramp up sharply. An average of 2.5 million doses were delivered in the US every day last week. In Maryland, over 5% of the population received a COVID-19 vaccine just in the past week. With vaccination rates expected to keep rising in the coming weeks as supplies ramp up, it’s looking increasingly likely that most in our community could be vaccinated by late spring.

The next 4-6 weeks could be confusing. Vaccinations and case counts could be surging at the same time. It’s hard to know what will happen with fatalities and hospitalizations. That depends on the success of vaccine distribution to vulnerable communities. A patchwork of reopenings and restrictions will be changing all the time, and it will be pretty much impossible to discern cause and effect. The one thing that we can be relatively sure of is that there will be plenty of frustration and finger pointing happening.

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Yeah, sometimes it's tempting to just hide behind a wall

We’re moderately optimistic that by May things will be clearly better.

As of today, local and regional event restrictions are a strange patchwork. In Prince George’s County, it looks like somebody thought, “50% seems like a nice number!” and simply applied that to everything that they could think of.

Professional and collegiate sporting events, and concert venues -- 50%! So, this means that UMD’s indoor basketball stadium could, in principle, hold an event with 9,000 indoor spectators. (To be clear, we have seen no indication that UMD plans to do this anytime soon.)

Restaurants - 50% indoor and outside! So a 20,000 sq. ft. indoor venue like The Hall CP (which we are fans of!) could probably easily host 100+ people indoors at once.

Casinos and theaters - 50% capacity! So MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County could host 1,500 people indoors in just its theater, let alone its casino.

Houses of worship - 50% capacity, indoors or out! There are many locations in the area that are now large enough to host hundreds indoors.

Youth and amateur sports - ok, we’ll give credit where it’s due. Somebody noticed that limiting a soccer team to 5.5 players might prove controversial. So you’re able to have 22 players and up to 50 spectators. At a park with multiple soccer fields, this would allow crowds of a few hundred.

So, what about 150 people spread out along a mile and a half of trail (i.e., us!)? Not happening! Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed currently. That appears to apply equally to a multi-hour backyard cookout and to people chatting in a park for a few minutes before heading for a run or walk.

We should emphasize that we’re not sure that the community is ready for us to restart right away, and we are not pushing to do so. We would prefer that the state and county slow things down a little, especially as the COVID data is not quite as rosy as the press conferences have suggested. But the way that restrictions are being applied currently strikes us as odd.

One impact of this, which may or may not help. Soccer games, together with spectators cook-outs, are already back at Acredale Park, directly next to our start line, as of this weekend. With it, there’s already an increase in littler at the park. So we can be confident that when CP parkrun returns, it won’t stand out as a sudden increase in activity at the park.

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Acredale Park, 3/14/21 - This is now permissible

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This is not currently permissible (picture from Oct 2019)

Elsewhere in the region, some organized running events are returning. This weekend Angela Gentile and TJ Hool did their CPVp as part of the St Patrick’s Day Shuffle 5K at Gordon Point, near Rehoboth Beach. The event went ahead with pre-event distancing and mask requirements. In Alexandria, VA, a few CP parkrun regulars took part Sunday in a 10K race at Fort Hunt.

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Socially distanced start of Angela & TJ's 5K in Rehoboth Beach

We don’t know when local permission to restart would be forthcoming. We have a wonderful relationship with Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation, but they are at the mercy of broader forces.

In addition to local permission, we cannot restart our normal events without the approval of parkrun Global. As of now, we have seen no indication of plans to move forward in the US ahead of the restart of parkrun events in England, currently planned for June 5th. There are big logistical challenges for the smooth return of parkrun in England, due to the sheer scale and density of events, the small spaces that many of them need to fit into, and the very gradual national plans for reopening the country. Many of those challenges don’t apply in the US.

With this in mind, we have a suggestion.

We’ll eventually get indications of when county permits are available. We’ll eventually hear something about parkrun permission. But an important component of restarting is gauging the interest and comfort level in the community. If much of the community is not comfortable with us holding outdoor in person events, then it’s probably unwise to proceed.

We are confident that, as of today, there is a wide range of views and comfort levels in our community. Some would be thrilled to show up with their barcode next Saturday. Others not so much. We are also relatively sure that sentiment will shift over the next couple of months, in response to vaccinations, case counts, and a host of other things. But we have little sense of where the weight of sentiment sits currently. For a while in the fall, parkrun Global was sending surveys to a sample of US parkrunners every 2 weeks to gauge sentiment. As far as we know, those surveys stopped. We also suspect that they yield a limited and biased picture of what’s happening in a community like ours (because of response biases).

We’re not in a position to survey the CP parkrun community. But you can certainly vote with your feet and your mouth. Stop by the Paint Branch Trail some Saturday, or stop by our social-but-distanced coffee meetup late Saturday mornings, currently at the Discovery District Park next to The Hall CP. You’ll always find friendly faces along the trail, at whatever time you show up on a Saturday morning. It’s never crowded. People show up at no fixed time. This weekend we guess that around 35 people did their CPVp on the regular CPp course at some point. We’re curious to see if that number will increase in the coming weeks.

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Great to catch up with friends at the Discovery District Park

Life Begins at Fifty

Be sure to mark your calendars for March 27th, our 50th College Park Virtual parkrun. It’s not something that we ever thought we would get to celebrate, but we definitely plan to celebrate the occasion. Safely. Wherever you may happen to be around the world.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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See you next week, folks!

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And yes, it's really happening!

 

 

Two legs good, four legs better (Virtual Report 47)

We’ll start this week with a message from Mary Langan, who checked in from Italy.

“I live next to Montagnola Park in Bologna, Italy this year while I'm completing a PhD fellowship. We're in the 'red zone' right now so we're locked down but individual exercise near your home is allowed. Never been more excited to jog than I have been these last few days! There's a dog park and kids playing so my time there makes everything seem brighter and more cheerful and the endorphins from running don't hurt either. :)”

We feel the same way, Mary! And we’re always happy to hear from friends around the world. It helps us to forget that we rarely go more than a few miles from home these days.

This week saw a big crowd of virtual parkrunners. 209 participants was one of our largest Saturday turnouts ever. So we have a lot to report on. And since this was a barkrunner-themed event, you are in luck if you’re one of the readers who skips the words to go look for the cute puppy pictures.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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The PGRC crew(s) on the Northeast Branch Trail, with barkrunner Lizzie

Facts and Figures

  • 209 virtual parkrunners
  • 870 miles covered
  • 11 first-timers
  • 3 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 1 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badge earned
  • 4 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 27 barkrunners -- RECORD!!
  • 7 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: Math professor Larry Washington writes: “I figured out how you resolve ties in the Results: Backwards alphabetical by first names. Clearly Colin and Andrea are being generous.” Close, Larry, very close!

Larry presumably noticed that last week there were 3 participants who appeared with a 5K equivalent time of 25:24. They appeared in the results in the order Melanie Barzik, Larry Washington, then John Ramsey.

Larry’s exactly right about how this ordering came about. Though in a bit of a roundabout way.

We never made any effort to break ties in virtual parkrun 5K times. We’re pretty chill about the times, as you may have noticed. We convert longer distances to equivalent paces for 5K, we round distances that seem really close to 5K. Some estimate their times. Yeah, it’s no big deal.

But the part that we have given thought to is how to order the names that don’t record a 5K time. This accounts for a sizable chunk of the weekly results table (something that we are very happy about). We sort the weekly table by time and then alphabetically by first names, because it’s fast and easy in Google Sheets. And last week we accidentally clicked the button to follow reverse alphabetical order, and then we figured that this would make a nice change. When you have a family name that begins with Zu… you’re aware of the impact of alphabetical ordering.

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 47

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Emily, Kyle, and barkrunner Sophie (yes, we have two Sophies!) enjoyed an hour and a half walk on the trail - that's plenty of time precision for us! 

Barkrunners- Iditarod Edition

This weeks’ spotlight on barkrunners didn’t disappoint! Even though they have trouble typing out their own stories, the pups’ humans were more than happy to share photos and stories about their furry friends. And we had by far our biggest ever turnout of barkrunners.

Our Virtual Iditarod partnership with Roosevelt Island parkrun resulted in a combined 1385 km. That’s a lot of distance, the most we have covered together in a while. But it was short of the 1500 km target that we had announced, to align with the length of the Iditarod sled dog race, which started this weekend in Alaska. … But then we learned that the COVID version of the race this year covers a shortened out-and-back route (we love out and back routes!). And this year’s distance is pretty much exactly the same as the distance that we covered. So, we did it!!

Roosevelt Island even got a visit from a few retired sled dogs, and some parkrunners got to introduce some new barkrunners.

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Retired sled dog Black Bear met new friends on Roosevelt Island

Fun fact, barkrunner Shackleton was originally named Sled; his human, Angela Gentile, renamed him when he was adopted. Their 4 mile run this weekend would be light for a sled dog, but it was just perfect for Shackleton and his pregnant park-musher.

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It's always a good time to stop for a sniff

Eli’s weekly art exploration led him to the traffic box art wrapNiqabi by Rashad Ali Muhammad of Clinton, MD.

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Your weekly art update from Eli

Barkrunner Gifford was reunited with Dan Owen this week after his human’s return from the UK. Gifford was quick to demand a familiar run along the C&O canal towpath.

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Reunited!

Pakora is now running sub 28 minute 5K’s, including sniff breaks, with human Pratyush Tiwary.

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Pakora is becoming quite the runner (but marathons are for crazy people)

The last time Jasper went running was the tutu parkrun in February 2020, so he was excited to get to run again with Emma Keer that he barked nonstop for the first half mile. Not used to such a long run, he only made it 1.7 miles before demanding to be taken home and allowed to nap in the sun all afternoon.

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Jasper is excited to get a run with Emma

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The all important recovery phase

Curious how much extra distance barkrunner Chevy covers zigzagging along the trail, Lisa Wilson attached her phone to Chevy’s harness while using her fitbit to track her own run walk. It turns out between drinking all the puddles, making new barkrunner friends, and having to go back to retrieve a lost cap, Chevy managed 12 miles to Lisa’s 7.

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Chevy got in a few extra miles

Meanwhile, Chevy’s tiny brother Nemo joined Hump for a mile walk along the Paint Branch trail. Scaled to the length of Nemo’s little legs, that’s probably more paces than most of us got this weekend.

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Nemo gets a lot of steps to the mile

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Tucker was excited to get outside with Amy Rice

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Sophie misses her parkrun pals. But a run in Rock Creek Park with Evan is pretty nice.

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Baxter reading the URL where he can find these reports

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed ELEVEN first-timers! Peter X, Rees Stiles, Stefania Gazzano, Emma Bradley, Laurie Collins, Allison Johnson, Black Bear (barkrunner), Bonnie (barkrunner), Copper (barkrunner), Emmo (barkrunner), and Jake Cox.

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John Maneval brought along his friend Peter

Fittingly, four of this week’s first timers are barkrunners, and some others joined (or were recruited) as a part of this week’s virtual Iditarod challenge. Rees Stiles joined the Cary, NC crew. Laurie Collins is CP(V)p regular Gloria Cottman’s sister. Emma Bradley in Essex, UK was recruited by Louise Godley. Allison Johnson and Jake Cox in Aspen Hill were recruited by Anna Tinnemore.

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Welcome Bonnie and Emmo - Melanie Barzik's pups

Stefania Gazzano is daughter-in-law of CPVp regular Stefano Gazzano, in Civitavecchia, ITALY. (Good luck to Stefano on his upcoming surgery -- we look forward to when you can run with us again.)

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Paulo Giulio, Stefania, and barkrunner Nathan

THREE joined the High Five club this week. Theodore and dad John McElhenny covered the regular CPp course in 42 minutes. On this day last year they both set PBs of 48 minutes, so we’d count that as a clear PB! And the other new 5-timer is none other than Hump Plotts.

Mark Shroder was the one new member of the Ten Timer Turtle club this week.

And we have FOUR new 25-timers this week, each earning a cake badge: Pete Poremba in Ohio, Adrien Harrison in Columbia, MD, Shelly Gough Lauffer in Mt Airy, MD, and Elmer Hernandez, who can generally be found on the Paint Branch Trail in College Park. on a Saturday morning.

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Elmer always has kind words for everybody along the trail

Diana Claros completed her first ever half marathon. Congrats! Danny Walker happened to be taking part in the same trail race.

Jeremy Rueter completed what we think is his first ever 10 mile run. Nice!

And young James Schneider, who a year ago was napping in a backpack at CP parkrun, this week toddled a full mile as part of Team Schneider’s 5K in Bladensburg.

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Team Schneider visited the caboose in Bladensburg

Virtual Volunteers

We are as grateful as ever to our virtual volunteer crew. It’s always a team effort, but especially so on a weekend with a big turnout and where one key team member is sidelined by the day job for much of the weekend.

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

This week we shared a picture from this weekend last year, at our last big in person gathering. Tara Mease commented: “I cried that morning. I knew it would be one of the last weeks that Xander and I could come, and that parkrun would be one of the things we could do for the longest. I had no idea how much everyone else would be joining in on the isolation, nor how long it would last!! It's been so so so marvelous to have the robust virtual parkrun community spring up!!”

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This was a whole year ago

Well, we cannot say enough how much more feasible it is to keep this going because of Tara’s data management wizardry.

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

Looking Back

Over the past year we have been looking back each week to our photo albums from the same week one year earlier. We use those pictures in our social media posts -- they always match the seasonal conditions on the trail -- and sometimes we share a few of them here. Well, this week we reach the end of that line, because it’s a full year since our last in person meetup. So, these memories are extra special for us.

On the first week of March in 2020 the McElhenny family was out in force. Mariella McElhenny reached the (junior) 10 parkrun milestone, and the family brought cake to share. Mariella ran together with Milkii Dagne, who reached the 10 parkrun milestone on the same day.

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Let them eat cake!

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Milestones for Milkii and Mariella

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This week: mom Kate needs a zoom lens as Gwyn and Mariella sprint into the distance

First-timers that day included Andres Mbouh, who has since gone on to complete 30 CPVps, and has also started a running group in Columbia to encourage community members to get active.

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Andres did his first parkrun on our last week before the shutdown

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Andres this week, helping to keep people active in Columbia

Catherine Spirito and Pete Monacelli managed to get in their 50th runs just in the nick of time.

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His and hers 50 sashes for Pete and Catherine

We implemented some precautionary measure that weekend, in light of the virus that we were all hearing about. But they seem a bit quaint in retrospect. At the time we thought, like many others, that surfaces were a key vector for the virus, so we retired the PB bell, and decided to quarantine the finisher tokens for a few days before sorting them. We were exploring elbow bumps. We had no idea of the changes that the following days would bring.

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Innocent times

Here’s CNN’s coronavirus news page from March 7th, 2020. There were 437 confirmed cases in the US by that point. Italy was in discussions about a lockdown in the northern part of the country, and New York State declared a state of emergency. The first case in the DC area was confirmed on that day. The total number of tests carried out in the US up to that point was less than 6,000. Nowadays that’s about the number that UMD alone runs in it’s weekly Tuesday-to-Thursday mass testing cycle.

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Carey and Frank enjoying something that no longer seems normal

On this weekend in 2019 Carlos Chaverri-Morales brought the family along (Viviana, Elena, and Sara) for the first time. They had fun!

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We love this picture of Janet Tate and Rebecca White supporting each other on the out-and-back.

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The Kaczmarski family was also out in force. Some ran, some walked, and some napped.

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Evan Hirsche and barkrunner Sophie paced Katie Hirsche to a PB, and then they immediately took over as the barcode scanning crew.

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This weekend in 2018 was an unusual one. We learned early in the morning that there was a tree down right beyond Hump’s Crossing. So we sent out cancellation notices via our website, email, and social media around 7:30am. You might have thought that this would have been an invitation for everybody to sleep in or take a little longer with the morning coffee. Not exactly!

A number of people headed over to Kensington, to join in the test event for the soon-to-launch Kensington parkrun.

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Token 0004 for Xander in 2018. There will be more of these low numbers in his future.

Clark and Violet Ridge, plus Patrick Wojahn and Kirk Gordon headed down to Anacostia to visit the parkrun there, which had launched just a few months earlier.

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Clark and Violet at Anacostia in 2018. This week they ran together in Berwyn Heights

Steve and Cindy Feld headed over to Fletcher’s Cove parkrun on the C&O Canal, where they also ran into Cindy Cohen.

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Cindy, Cindy, and Steve at Fletcher's Cove. Cindy may be back in College Park next week

Gus Campbell went to Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore, which is like his second home parkrun, anyway.

Nobody went from College Park to Roosevelt Island parkrun … but it looks like that event was canceled on the same day, so that’s not so surprising.

And meanwhile a number of people didn’t get the note in time and still showed up to Acredale Park. Impressively, by the time they arrived, the parks department had already been out with chainsaws and had cleared the trail. So maybe we could have gone ahead anyway!

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And four years ago, on this weekend in 2017, we had a different kind of adventure. It was an unseasonably cold day, and with 36 finishers it was one of our smallest ever fields. But it was a day when we learned an important lesson.

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One of our smallest ever fields on a rather cold morning

Most of the week’s volunteer crew was from UMD service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Great! But they initially went to the wrong location, so at 8:55am we had almost no volunteers. So we quickly dispatched Nick Huang to head up the trail to be turnaround marshal, while Colin was left to buy Nick some time with a slow pre-event briefing. As word spread that we didn’t have a volunteer crew, a few people stepped up on the spot to help out. And then the APOs made it to the park just in time to be in place before the first finishers arrived.

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The APO volunteer crew eventually found the right park!

It was one of those days when we learned to really not sweat the setbacks, because things would work out in the end.

That was also the first day that we had a female first finisher. A female barkrunner, that is. Australian cattle dog Scout helped pull Ken Leonard to a PB of 19:11. To our knowledge this might still be the fastest barkrun on our course. (We don’t keep official records, nor do we encourage record tracking, for safety reasons.) Ken explained to us that Scout caught the scent of a friend who happened to be biking on the trail that morning, and so she sped up in order to try to catch up with the friend!

There’s a fun description of that day’s events in our run report from CPp #21.

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We miss Scout!

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Look who set a PB on that day in 2017! Just 4 years old at the time.

And looking back a little further, Janet Grudzien John sent us this message from Honolulu, HI. “Six years ago I ran my first ever 5k (Huntington parkrun [UK]) Here is what I posted that day "Going to attempt to run/walk a 5k this morning. Despite years of playing rec soccer, endless hours of cardio, and my love of swimming I have never attempted one in the past. I just want to complete it. Fingers crossed." Well, she succeeded. And now she has completed over 140 parkrun 5Ks and a whole bunch of virtual 5Ks, too. Great stuff, Janet!

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A 5K is now easy peasy for Janet. 6 years ago it was a big deal.

Looking Ahead

Last week we wrote in this column that we’re cautiously optimistic about being able to hold in person events again in the summer, more likely later than earlier. Nothing that we have seen in the past week changes that estimate.

In the UK, the current focus of parkrun is on restarting some of their junior 2K events in April. The interesting thing to watch there is how many of the 300 events choose or get permission to return at that point. Current numbers appear to be a little over 50%. This will lay the groundwork for a much bigger task of trying to bring back hundreds of 5K events at once in June.

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This crew is looking forward to the return of Durham, NC parkrun

Locally to us, the alarming spike in COVID infections at UMD appears to have been brought under control impressively quickly. The UMD COVID-19 dashboard shows that this week’s 8,000 tests yielded just 47 positives, i.e., a positivity rate of 0.6%. This is back to where things stood a month ago.

Nationally and in Maryland, COVID infection numbers are trending slightly downwards, but rather less quickly than a few weeks ago. Fatalities are also down, but by much less than case counts. We would hope to see a big fall in fatalities as a consequence of early vaccinations targeted at vulnerable populations. That hasn’t happened yet at the national level. Signs are maybe more encouraging in Maryland, where in January we were losing 40-45 per day to COVID-19, and where this weekend the 7-day average was down to 12.

And then there’s Texas, where ALL restrictions will be lifted as of this week. This is despite case rates per capita that are currently around double what we’re seeing in Maryland. If things go badly there, people will die in Maryland as a consequence.

We have no news on changes in park permissions in Maryland. We imagine that if school openings go well in the coming weeks and if infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities get below half the current levels, then we might see more action on that front. But we do not expect that Prince George’s County will be leading the charge.

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We hear you, Rachel! Hopefully during the summer.

So, as we have done for the past year, we will maintain our focus on doing what we can to help each other stay a little more active, and a little more connected. We are AMAZED that, one year into the pandemic, we have 200+ participants in a virtual event.

If you’re in the College Park area, you’ll be sure to see friendly faces if you come along to the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday morning. There’s no formal gathering. People show up at whatever time suits them. The trail is not crowded. If you haven’t visited in a while, you should check out the new connector trail that leads to the College Park Woods neighborhood. It’s a really nice addition.

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Always good to see Lucy and Laurie along the trail on a Saturday

We will continue our social-but-distanced coffee meetups at the Discovery District Park late morning Saturday. With significant improvement in the weather on the horizon, we’re going to have less need for blankets in the coming weeks. There’s ample seating, and it’s easy to catch up with friends safely.

If you have ideas for new community challenges, we’d love to hear them. Drop us an email.

Until next time!
Your CPVp Team

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Meridith is raising awareness of a campaign for routine colorectal cancer screenings from age 45. Thanks Meridith -- we need to take this seriously.

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Unexpected visitors at Acredale Park this week. We hope that the person who needed help is now ok. (Not a parkrunner.)

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Frank Filteau navigates around police cruisers on the Paint Branch Trailmeghan-gieske-web

Meghan Gieske saw these THREE bald eagles on her run in South Bend, IN

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Mary Hicks assures us that this is fine weather for early March in Northern Illinois

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Late afternoon sun from Louise Godley's run in Wheaton Regional Park in Silver Spring

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Alyssa and Keaton getting in some extra miles with a walk in Clarksville

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Spring is reaching Connecticut

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Malik and David and their crew are ready for their latest hard core workout

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Still not broken - Colin is excited to be back to running the trail on a Saturday

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Shorts weather? Nice try, Trace! We promise that it really will be warmer next week. See you then!

 

Light at the end of the tunnel (Virtual Report 46)

Last week everybody was telling us about ice and snow on their virtual parkruns. This week we heard so many stories about the milder, brighter conditions. Not only in the DMV, but in lots of places around the country.

We also heard other encouraging stories. More of you are starting to get vaccines (including Lisa Wilson’s 102-year old dad -- phew!). The sudden surge in infections at UMD that led to a sequester-in-place order one week go is now at least partly under control. And there are increasing signs of optimism that could even point the way towards us getting together again in person.

Increasingly, it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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A very welcome sight 

Facts and Figures

  • 166 virtual parkrunners
  • 700 miles covered
  • 1 first-timer
  • 0 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 1 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 12 barkrunners
  • 6 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: February participation stats! Despite a rather bleak month of Saturdays, 250 parkrunners (and barkrunners) recorded 676 runs and walks in February.

  • 102 completed all 4 February events
  • 46 3-timers in February
  • 29 2-timers in February
  • 72 1-timers in February

Did we see a drop in participation in response to the February weather? Let’s see …

  • Average weekly participation for all 46 CPVps = 169.06
  • Average weekly participation in February 2021 = 169.00

… Well, that’s pretty close. So it looks like the weather didn’t make much of a difference!

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 46

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Louise and Anne were just 2 of the 102 ever presents at CPVp in February

Light at the End

It was a bit wet for folks who set out early in the DMV. But those who waited a little were rewarded with a glorious day when it felt like spring was just around the corner.

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The early birds got wet this week. Such as Gus in Glen Burnie

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Still a bit wet when Team Schneider headed out for their 5K. Samantha and Mary Clare paced mom Erin, who is on a comeback after foot surgery.

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There's the sun! OK, so this is cheating. That's Adrian and Stella Dover in the UK

Teresa Perdomo and Külli Crespin were happy to ditch the treadmill and enjoy the local sights in Hyattsville.

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Neha Joshi was exploring Little Free Libraries along the Trolley Trail in College Park.

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It was a bit more hospitable than recently for our social-but-distanced coffee meetup at the Discovery District Park in College Park.

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Even in northern Idaho there were signs of a thaw. Cindy Cohen was able to run on a clear road rather than getting out on skis for a change.

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In Columbia, Andres Mbouh did his CPVp together with a new running group that he has started with his church, encouraging others to stay active and connected (sound familiar?).

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Jackie Hayes was enjoying a longer run along the Capital Crescent Trail in Washington DC when she had a flyby from David Lai’s crew as they zoomed past.

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David's crew in Georgetown, ready to head up the Capital Crescent Trail

In Melton Mowbray, UK, Rach Cousen was enjoying some warmer weather, and appreciating the moonrise on a well lit evening.

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Full moon rising over Melton Mowbray

Kelsey Mannix wondered aloud (i.e., on Strava) whether she could do her CPVp in Fort Wayne, IN. Absolutely, Kelsey! You can do it absolutely anywhere.

Case in point: this week’s fastest 5K was by old friend of CP parkrun Lokesh Meena, who was running laps around his apartment building in New Delhi, India. Here’s the Strava plot of Lokesh’s run this week. And then a picture from when Lokesh joined us for our 100th regular event, back in Fall 2018. Lokesh was a DC-based diplomat at the time.

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Lokesh's route in 2021

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Lokesh in 2018

Yes, it’s “our” Stefano

Last week we highlighted some folks who are on track to complete a lot of virtual events, while having done few or none of our in person events. We mentioned a query about our friend Stefano Gazzano, who has joined us almost every week during the pandemic from Italy, sometimes with beautiful pictures of his travels, to brighten our pandemic inertia. We found one Stefano Gazzano in the parkrun database of 7 million names. This person had done 3 parkruns, a few years apart, all in Scotland, and always in late winter. We were not sure that this was “our” Stefano.

Clearly an astute reader of these reports, Stefano got in touch with us a couple of days later to explain that, yes, they were one and the same Stefano. And he explained the unusual history. Stefano is a rugby fan, and he has traveled a few times to watch Italy games in the Six Nations Championship, an annual tournament that is hugely popular in the UK, but largely unknown in College Park. A bit like the opposite of Big Ten Football. A big, big deal in these parts, but unheard of in Europe. (OK, so we’re barely aware of Big 10 football in College Park, but apparently it's A Thing.) Stefano did his first parkrun while visiting Edinburgh in 2011, which is why he has a really low barcode number. His most recent non-virtual parkrun was on a rugby visit to Cardiff, Wales in 2018. Mystery solved!

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Mystery solved! Stefano and Paolo Giulio at Edinburgh parkrun in 2015

Happy Birthday

We’d like to wish a very special Happy Birthday to Katie Hirsche, who turned 18 this weekend!

Katie holds our female course record of 18:35 (or thereabouts), set during the pandemic.

She has completed 74 “classic” parkruns, 69 of them at College Park. She attended the first ever parkrun in the DMV, in January 2016 at age 12. She first joined us in College Park in our 5th event, at age 13. She has also completed all 46 of our virtual parkruns.

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Katie en route to the first of her course records last October

Also, she has volunteered at 27 classic parkruns and 32 virtual parkruns. She is also our leading Strava cheerleader. If you’re in our Strava Club, you will have noticed.

And she’s now no longer a junior parkrunner. Congratulations, Katie! And we are really, really hoping that we’ll be able to get together and cheer you at an in person event before you head to college later this year.

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One of our favorite Katie pictures - her first sub-21 minute clocking, in 2018

What’s more, Katie wasn’t the only one with a birthday this weekend. Jeff Rosenberg, a regular member of Team Rosenberg, joining from Denver, CO, had his birthday on Saturday. How do we know this? We just know.

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed one new first-timer - Jamila Hinds. She’s no stranger to CP parkrun, as she has joined us in person a number of times, most recently last winter, shortly before the shutdown.

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Welcome Jamila! (This picture is from one year ago)

Amy Rice completed her 10th CPVp this week. She reports that between weather and kids she wasn’t able to get outside. But she was able to complete 6 miles on the treadmill. That seems pretty good to us!

We had THREE new 25-timers this week. Neil Jograj was walking near his new home in Bonaire, GA**. Melanie Barzik was running in Kensington. And Kristen Maneval was running in Gambrills, MD … where she also set a PB. Nice!

** Fun story related to Neil. For the past couple of months your report writer has been receiving occasional emails from a guy named Neil, who talks about adventures with his wife Jules. It seems to include a good amount of biking. Makes sense -- our parkrun friends Neil and Julie/Jules recently moved to Georgia, and we know that they enjoy biking. It was only this past week that it became more obvious that this Neil was in Australia. He has a neighbor named Colin Phillips, who he thought he was writing to. And meanwhile our Colin Phillips thought he was receiving messages from his friends Neil and Jules. Let’s just say that it was a little embarrassing to tidy that one up.

Among other achievements this week, Derek Symer’s CPVp also marked the completion of a 434 mile virtual race across New York State. Derek proudly displayed his finisher’s medal at Acredale Park on Saturday.

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434 miles in the book for Derek

Lisa Shiota completed an interesting virtual race this week: together with her team she completed the Virtual Desert Storm 218-miler, organized by the Marine Corps Marathon folks, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 218-mile journey across the desert that the Marines made from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait City. We know that some of our virtual parkrunners were involved in Desert Storm, so this must bring back strong memories for them.

Finally, a shout out to young Blaise Gieske, who got out for a park-stroll with parents Meghan and Ben. Meghan ran her fastest “post-Blaise” 5K (yay!), and reported that Blaise is growing up fast: “He just started walking, so we got him out of the stroller at the end for his first parktoddle. He made it about 10 feet before falling over (no blood, lots of tears until he got distracted by a dog and forgot all about it).” See, it’s not only the grownups who are being saved by the barkrunners in the pandemic.

Barkrunners

We already met young barkrunner Coney a couple of weeks ago. She’s little sister to seasoned barkrunner Walker, who teams up with Corey and Adam in Detroit, MI. Well, this week Coney completed her first full 5K. Nice job, Coney!

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First full 5K for young barkrunner Coney

Lizzie is very much the leader of her pack (Joanne, Clare, and Ginny). After a couple of weeks when the weather prevented them from getting together, replaced by unacceptable (to barkrunners) treadmill running, Lizzie was delighted to get the band together again.

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After picking across ice and snow last week, Shackleton and Angela had a fun time enjoying the spring weather on the Paint Branch Trail. Angela reports that Shack is being very accommodating as she slows down (pregnancy tends to do that).

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Tuffi was very tempted to celebrate the milder weather by leaping in to the creek. Scruffi earned the role of this week’s “tail wagger” by stopping to sniff everything along the trail, making for a leisurely 90-minute 5K.

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Tempting!

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This week's tail wagger

Eli continued his art explorations with Ellen and found this cool bus.

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Nice paint job, City of Hyattsville

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Barkrunner Nathan recovering from his 5K

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Pakora approves of Pratyush's marathon training plan

Virtual Volunteers

This week’s virtual volunteer crew was a seasoned team of regulars. Last spring it took a while to figure out how to get everything to work smoothly. Nowadays, it’s so much easier. Maybe unsurprising, as we’re approaching our 50th event. Thanks this week go to:

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

We’d like to thank the folks who have reached out to offer their help for future weeks. It’s truly appreciated. Even if we now have worked out many of the kinks in the system, it’s still a time-consuming process every week, turning 150-200 reports of activities completed in different times and places into coherent tabulation and a report of our collective activities.

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

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Heather got the whole family outside, plus bikes, plus friends - perfect!
Then she volunteered for CPVp - even better!

Looking Back

On this weekend in 2020 we were getting really close to the shutdown of our regular events. But we had little idea of that at the time. A regular crowd of around 130 joined us on the Paint Branch Trail, and we were mostly looking forward to spring.

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We're not sure what was shocking Keaton on this day one year ago. But we had no idea what was about to hit us.

It’s interesting to see CNN’s coronavirus coverage from that day. At that point just a handful of covid-19 cases had been detected in the US.

On February 29th we were celebrating Leap Day. Stewart Mayhew dressed in frog green for the occasion. Jackie Hayes and her daughter Kayla were leading the show.

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It's not easy being green ... for Leap Day

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Jackie and Kayla in charge, one year ago

James Schneider was a napping infant in a back carrier. One year on, he’s literally finding his feet as a park-toddler.

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This guy is now a budding parktoddler

On this weekend in 2019 we were celebrating Sheilah Kast’s 50th parkrun.

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We're looking forward to welcoming Sheilah back to the trail

First timers from that day 2 years ago were Luther and Michelle Lemon. Luther and Michelle nowadays join us virtually almost every week. Kristen Maneval set a PB of 41:xx. This week in her 25th virtual parkrun she set a PB of 35:xx. Nice

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This picture is from one year ago. Michelle's little package now is a toddler.

In 2018 on this weekend we celebrated Andrea Zukowski’s 50th parkrun. She had said in 2015 that at a rate of 2 parkruns per year (on family trips to the UK) it would take her until she was 75 to earn her 50 shirt. She was only off by around 20 years on that prediction.

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Andrea's 50th, early 2018

We love this picture from 2018 of Nick Brennan, PJ Brennan, Lara Ehrenhofer, and Steve Hendrix. On that day Nick and PJ brought along their newly adopted son. Now they have two! Lara now joins us regularly from Berlin, Germany. And Steve now is the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Jerusalem, from where we occasionally hear or read his reporting on the Middle East, such as this piece in today's Washington Post about Israel's ahead-of-the-world vaccine rollout.

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On this weekend in 2017 one of our first-timers was Greg Ervin, visiting from Ohio. Greg continued to join us whenever he was in town, completing 10 in person CP parkruns. Now he doesn’t need to travel -- he has completed a dozen CP virtual parkruns. Another first-timer that day was Frank Filteau, who went on to complete over 150 parkruns in the 3 years before our extended pause.

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It's cool that Greg can join us remotely, though we'd love to see him again in person

We also found this nice photo of Hannah Russell and her parents Judy Barnes and Marvin Russell. On that day Marvin was completing the 11th of his 132 CP parkruns (and 44 virtual events). Hannah was still a UMD student. Judy was yet to complete her first event. In those days Judy would walk part of the out-and-back course while Marvin was running. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that Judy got a barcode and started covering the whole 5K. She has now done 142 5Ks (98 classic, 44 virtuals).

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That day we saw 84 finishers. At the time it was a Saturday attendance record. Nowadays we generally see double that number on a Saturday for a CPVp.

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This day in 2017. The PG Parks "Mobile Fitness Unit" joined us

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We miss seeing Trini Molina on the trail on a Saturday morning

Looking Ahead

There was big news this week for UK-based parkrunners. The UK government announced a roadmap for emerging from pandemic restrictions. A couple of days later parkrun HQ announced their own plans for the return of hundreds of events. The headline was the proposed return of 5K events on June 5th in England.

What does this mean, if anything, for us in College Park?

In some ways, not very much. But it does give us some useful pointers.

The UK plan applies only to England (around 85% of the UK population), and not to other regions of the UK, since they have independent control over pandemic measures. The UK government has outlined a staged rollback of pandemic measures, with at least 5 weeks between each stage. First, schools and limited social interaction. Then, some businesses and outdoor activities in stage 2. Then travel, and a much wider range of activities, including mid-sized sports events in stage 3, starting no earlier than May 17. The aim is to start 5K parkrun events at least 2 weeks after the start of stage 3 is confirmed. That’s how they arrive at the date of Saturday June 5th. Stage 3 will start later if key targets from Stage 2 are not met, delaying the start of parkrun events.

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Kristie is one of our regulars who has yet to do one of our in person events

For us to return to “normal” in person gatherings in College Park, there are four key enablers.

Local landowner permission. We cannot go ahead until Prince George’s County lifts restrictions on mid-sized outdoor gatherings, and until Prince George’s Parks is again allowing permits for events of up to 200-250 people. We suspect that this is the most important factor in the timing of our return.

We do not know when local restrictions will be lifted, but they are unlikely to change faster than in the UK. The current prevalence of the virus in Maryland is similar to the UK, but UK vaccination rates are ahead of us, as is vaccine uptake. Already 95% of people aged over 70 have had at least one vaccine shot in the UK. (We might never reach that level in the US.) Prince George’s County has taken a generally cautious approach to COVID restrictions. This in part reflects the higher impact of the pandemic on the county.

Permission from parkrun. Our insurance and IT are handled centrally by parkrun in the UK. We cannot operate without their blessing. We do not expect that to come earlier than the UK restart planned for June 5th.

The parkrun UK plans include an earlier return of their 2K junior parkrun events for children, starting on April 11th. Some junior events might start later than others. The junior parkrun events are more similar to North American events, because they are smaller, and because there is little “parkrun tourism” between events. Similarly, it’s very rare for US parkrunners to regularly visit other events.

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Carly is another regular who hasn't yet done a "regular" CP. This week she was taking it easy after getting her first shot (yay!). And Janel was getting some fresh air ahead of some big exams this week (good luck!).

It is conceivable that some other North American events might have local permission to restart earlier than others, especially smaller events in states with fewer COVID restrictions. But as the largest parkrun event in North America, situated in a state and county that have been more cautious around pandemic restrictions, we in College Park are unlikely to be first in line for a return.

Participants and volunteers: We can’t hold in person events if people don’t want to take part and don’t want to volunteer, because they feel unsafe. That would be an issue if we tried to restart right now (setting aside the fact that it’s currently disallowed). But this is unlikely to be a limiting factor by the time that we get the green light from the county and from parkrun in the UK. It *is* likely that when we restart in person events not everybody will feel comfortable taking part. That's understandable. But we don't expect to be held back by lack of volunteers or participants. (When we return we will almost certainly be operating under parkrun's COVID-19 framework. It involves some operational adjustments, but nothing that will be a major barrier for us.)

Local community: We don’t need explicit permission from the local community. But we can certainly generate resentment if we go ahead too early. We use public trails that we share with others. We hold events every single week. We won’t survive if we encounter strong community pushback. Strangely enough, we’re also the largest running/walking event in the county, with 8,000 - 9,000 participants/year.

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Sub 50 this week for Lori. Nice!

The unrolling of pandemic restrictions in 2021 is sure to create much tension. Some will be adamant that it is too slow. Others will be adamant that it is too fast. It’s just not possible to satisfy everyone. The best way to minimize this tension is to come back a little slower than others. If schools are back in session; if UMD is operating more normally; if fans are watching baseball or football games in person; and if restaurants are operating more normally, then College Park parkrun isn’t going to draw a lot of attention.

Putting this all together with the current trajectory of the pandemic and vaccine rollout, our best guess is that we might be able to restart in the second half of the summer. We see little prospect before Memorial Day. We would currently be disappointed if we’re still in virtual mode on Labor Day. But we should emphasize that we have no insider knowledge. We are just trying to calibrate expectations.

Next week: Watch this space!

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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See you next week. Soon the tunnel of trees will be bursting with spring activity.

 

 

When life gives you ice (Virtual Report 45)

They say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade.

This week life gave us ice. So that sounds like an invitation to eat ice cream, right?

At least, that’s the interpretation that Mika Sauerland chose in Berlin this week. And she figured, correctly, that she could persuade her mom Kazuko Yatsushiro to do an ice-cream run for CPVp.

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When life gives you ice, eat ice cream!

Meanwhile, the rest of us found plenty of ways to make the most of a Rather Icy Day, wherever we happened to be. Some were searching for clear roads or trails. Some were making the most of grippy shoe attachments. Some were indoors on the treadmill. Some got moving on XC skis. Some were “skating”. The common thread in all this is that you wanted to get moving.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

Facts and Figures

  • 162 virtual parkrunners
  • 650 miles covered
  • 5 first-timers
  • 1 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 4 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 3 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 6 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: This week Tim Keer pointed out that this was the 50th Saturday since the last time we were able to come together for a regular in person event, on March 7th 2020.

That last in person event was 348 days ago. A person who had first joined us that day could have earned a 50 shirt by now. In fact, Frank Filteau took just 350 days from his first time with us until he earned his red 50 shirt.

We didn’t start the virtual events until the beginning of May (what were we thinking!). But there are some who have never joined us for an in person event who are on track to reach their 50th CPVp this spring.

Anne L’Ecuyer is on track to do her 50th by late May. Joanne Smith is hot on her heels. So is Mary Clare Schneider - Mary Clare was already a regular at our in-person events, but she didn’t turn 4 until shortly after the start of the pandemic, so she never appeared in the official results. Stefano Gazzano could get to 50 sooner. (There’s somebody with his name in the parkrun database, but as they have only ever done a couple of parkruns in Scotland, we’re not sure that it’s “our” Stefano.)

Also related to 50: by the time of the shutdown 93 College Park parkrunners had earned red 50 shirts, across 181 weekly events. Such is the consistency of virtual parkrunners that there are roughly the same number who could earn CPVp 50-timer honors by the end of June. (Will we still be doing this in June? Hard to know, but we wouldn’t be surprised.)

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 45

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"skating"

Ice everywhere

Some weeks we hear lots of stories from you about different topics. This week we mostly heard from you about ice.

In College Park, the Paint Branch Trail was covered in more ice than we have ever seen in 5-years of Saturdays. If we weren’t in a pandemic, we would definitely have had to cancel.

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It's more slippery than it looks

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This part was exactly as slippery as it looks

Some were happy to have grippy Yaktrax (or similar) to attach to their shoes, making it possible to run or walk on the ice.

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Have Yaktrax, will travel

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Lori was equipped for action

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Colin: it's like snow tires for shoes

Some wisely chose to take things more cautiously. This included Stewart Mayhew, who is back to running without his arm in a sling, after slipping on ice and fracturing his arm back in December.

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Look it! Stewart's arm is good for waving again

Some got chilly paws. And then needed to do some serious R&R.

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Many others saw the ice and decided to go elsewhere, in search of clearer trail or asphalt.

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David, Malik, Dami and crew did a long run in Greenbelt Park

Some had snow instead of ice.

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Seriously cold and snowy for the Mansfield, OH crew

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Looks exactly like New England!

Some were fleeing the ice. Last week Emma Keer shared a picture of a big icicle at her apartment in Ann Arbor, MI. This week she updated us: the snow and ice got so bad that her ceiling was falling in. So she was fitting in her virtual parkrun in between moving to a new apartment.

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Looks pretty. Until the ceiling caves in.

In one piece of important non-ice news, Danny Walker got a new puppy. Meet Valor! A future barkrunner, we hear!

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Welcome, Valor!

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed FIVE first-timers: Emily Friend, Kyle McCormick, and their barkrunner Sophie. Angela Gentile encouraged them to join us, and had to assure them that the trail is normally not so icy (or empty). Dave Roeder and Teecy Robertson are part of Gail Sockwell-Thompson’s regular weekend crew from Prince George’s Running Club, so they’re no strangers to the local trails.

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Barkrunner Sophie was adopted only last week. Welcome to College Park! (And Emily and Kyle, too)

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Gail's crew at Riverdale Park Station

Lara Ehrenhofer is this week’s sole earner of a CPVp HIGH FIVE badge. Lara was part of the early volunteer crew that helped CP parkrun get off the ground back in 2016-2017, so she’s no stranger to the Paint Branch Trail. Nowadays, though, she’s doing her CPVps in Berlin, Germany, where she recently started a new job. Congrats, Lara!

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Lara in late 2016, before we knew this spot as Hump's Crossing

We had FOUR new earners of our 10-timer turtle badge. Darrell Stanaford is a long-time friend of CP parkrun, and was the founder or co-founder of all three DC parkrun events (Fletcher’s Cove, Roosevelt Island, and Anacostia). Nowadays he can often be found on a Saturday morning running the NCR Trail north of Baltimore. Ben Gieske is a former CPp regular who now joins us regularly from he and Meghan’s new home in South Bend, IN. Dennis Wojahn (mayor Patrick’s dad) got out with Karen Wojahn for a spot of XC skiing in Fish Creek, WI. And in Ann Arbor, MI, Adam Hockley did his 10th CPVp as a break from escaping a collapsed ceiling.

We awarded THREE new 25-timer badges this week. Barkrunner Tuffi didn’t do so much virtual parkrunning in the hot summer months. But since the cooler weather arrived she hasn’t missed an opportunity to go run with Gloria Cottman. Terri Snedeker was running the trails downtown as usual. And in Mechanicsburg, PA Jessica Rosenberg became the FIFTH member of Team Rosenberg to earn a 25-timer badge.

Nice consistency, everybody!

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Tuffi celebrates her 25th CPVp in style

Virtual Volunteers

Please send warm thanks to this week’s crew of virtual volunteers. It’s a team effort every single week.

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

A shout out this week to Ellen Oberholtzer, who was doing her 5th stint on the virtual volunteer crew. And that’s not counting all of the contributions that she and her barkrunner Eli have made to educating us about local public art. Thanks Ellen!

And the rest of the regular crew -- between them they have been virtual volunteers over 200 times already. Hats off to the regulars!

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

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Eli and Ellen visited the diversity mural at Riverdale Park Elementary School

Looking Ahead

Maybe we spoke too soon! In this column last week we were getting a little giddy about the fall in COVID cases and what that might mean for our future. As recently as Thursday we were posting optimistic messages in our social media feeds.

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Hope we didn't jinx it. A couple of hours after posting this, we heard about the new UMD spike in COVID cases

Well, we were right about the overall retreat in the virus. Since the peak on January 12th case counts in Maryland have fallen sharply, now down to 25% of the peak rate. Hospitalizations have halved in that time. And Maryland has now passed 1 million vaccine shots delivered. All encouraging!

We were also right that we’d soon face the risk of increased mistrust here in College Park, as it became harder to tell what was going on with the virus locally.

But we were wrong about the reason.

The past couple of days has seen a spike in COVID cases at UMD. After 5 months with an average of 5-10 new reports per day, from 2/16 to 2/20 there were 228 new cases, around 45 per day, almost all among students. (The fact that the cases are mostly among students is unusual. For most of the past year the campus cases have been a mix of student and faculty/staff cases.)

UMD has acted rapidly. On Thursday they issued an alert and moderately tightened restrictions. By Saturday morning they issued sharply tightened restrictions. Students on campus are instructed to remain in their room as much as possible for the next week. Going outside for fresh air is encouraged, but they should stay close to their building. Many reports highlight the pause in in-person classes. This is likely not such a big deal, as in-person classes are few in number, and account for so little of the current activity. Something that gets less attention in reporting is that only a fraction of the students currently in town are in UMD controlled housing. It’s harder to know what is happening there.

It is not yet clear what caused this rapid spike in cases at UMD. Based on what we see on campus and around town every day, there is no obvious change in behavior. It’s not hard to find cases of risky behavior, but there is also a LOT of sensible behavior. Testing protocols have become stricter since last semester. UMD uses a mix of swipe key and wifi access data to keep close tabs on everybody who visits the campus, and whether they have been tested recently.

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The world would be simpler if we were all barkrunners like Belle. For a start, we would be immune to the virus. Hopefully we'll all be like Belle soon.

Is the spike in cases a consequence of a slight increase in local housing density? Is it due to cold weather pushing more activity indoors? Is it due to increased complacency due to overall positive trends in virus cases and vaccination? Is it due to one of the new variants? Is it just the end of a run of good luck? We have no idea right now.

It looks like it’s worse right now at the U of Virginia.

What is already clear is that this creates heightened risk of tension, confusion, resentment, and physical and mental health challenges in our community. Students are an important part of this community.

We really don’t know how this will unfold. It may be a short blip on the overall decline of the pandemic. Or it could be the start of a serious new wave, like the one that overwhelmed the UK in January. But we hope that we’ll see a continuation of the broad goodwill, positive attitudes, and attention to safety and to community that we have seen over the past year.

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Looking forward to milder weather for our social-but-distanced coffee

Meanwhile, in the UK the government on Monday announced a staged roadmap for the gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions, which have been much stricter than ours over the past couple of months. We don’t know if it will work, but if it goes well, it might possibly see the return of UK parkrun events in the spring. While that’s not a direct trigger for the return of events like ours, it’s one of the things that makes our return easier.

We’re looking forward to milder weather in the coming days. Next week we may have our first above-freezing Saturday morning in the DMV in over a month. Spring is on the way!

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Andrea Maas and her crew, with no ice in sight in Greensboro, NC

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Looking good, Matt

 

 

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You can always find Elmer on the trail on a Saturday morning

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Less ice next week, we suspect. See you then!

 

 

Glazed (Virtual Report 44)

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

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

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

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW CPVP WORKS SEE HERE

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Feels great once you get warmed up. Right?

Facts and Figures

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

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

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

RESULTS TABLE FOR CPVP 44

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

Glazed

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

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

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

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Rochester, NY in 1991

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

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

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Still standing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Try not to get dizzy, Kristie

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

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The weather wasn't going to keep Elmer inside

Alternate Weather

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

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

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

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Mountain views in Costa Rica

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

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parkski!

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

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

Special Events

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

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

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

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Somebody found a dino!

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

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Almost a dino fossil

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

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

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

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

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Spring is comingandrea-zukowski-pileated-web

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

Pretty ice formationsandrea-zukowski-heron-web

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

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

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Valentines parkrun for Neha and Yogarshi

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

Milestones and More

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

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Welcome Captain and Buoy!

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

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

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Snowy trail in South Bend, IN for Meghan Gieske

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

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Roo earned a cake badge

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

Virtual Volunteers

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

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

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

Patrick and Duane in 2019

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

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

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

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

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February 2021. No sash. But shorts!

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

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February 2017. Gus was one of our first PoTM honorees

Looking Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chilly 5K in Delaware for TJ Kool and Angela Gentile

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

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

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Congratulations to our Melton Mowbray friends

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

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team

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Scene on Adrien Harrison's run in Columbia, MD

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

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

Barkrunner Foxy enjoying the snow in Ohio

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

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