College Park Virtual Turkey Trot

All are invited to College Park's first -- and hopefully only -- Virtual Turkey Trot, on Thursday November 26th.

The popularity of Turkey Trots has made a chilly Thursday in late November the biggest day for running events in the world. Normally, one million Americans would take part in hundreds of events throughout the country. The focus is on doing something fun and healthy outdoors with family and friends ahead of big indoor gatherings. Racing, personal bests? Meh.

College Park parkrun, which offers free, weekly, community-focused 5K events year round normally holds a special Thanksgiving event on the beautiful Paint Branch Trail in College Park.

2020 is not normal. These things are not happening.

But getting active outdoors and connecting with friends and family, safely, is more important than ever.


Last year's Thanksgiving parkrun crowd of 250 was awesome! In 2020 we're looking for the same warm vibe, but with a bit less crowding.

College Park Virtual parkrun can help. Since early in the pandemic, this community has come together -- at safe distances, from six feet to six thousand miles -- to provide support and encouragement. Unlike other virtual events there are no fees, no swag, and no prizes. The focus is on sharing stories, pictures, kudos, and motivation.

The community-first approach of CP Virtual parkrun has been so well received that participation is even higher than in the regular face-to-face events. Since May, 600 individuals have recorded 5,000 activities covering over 20,000 miles. Most participants are in the College Park area and the DC metro region, but some regulars join from as far away as Hawaii or Rome, Italy. Some locals join when they are traveling.

College Park Virtual Turkey Trot is a special Thursday edition of CP Virtual parkrun (the 31st CPVp to be precise). With the focus on a safe Thanksgiving this year, we are especially looking forward to welcoming community members and family members who might not be able to physically meet up this year.


Derek Symer and his daughter Lilian enjoying the Paint Branch Trail in CP Virtual parkrun

Participation is super simple.

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

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

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

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


College Park's speedy Mayor Patrick Wojahn does his virtual parkruns in College Park, while his parents Dennis and Karen join regularly by taking walks in Green Bay, WI.

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


"Barkrunners" are very much a part of this community

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

If you visit the Paint Branch Trail, you might also find encouraging chalk messages. Or you might pick up a stick of chalk and leave encouraging messages of your own. Or you might see some cool new signs that will be making their debut along the trail for Thanksgiving.

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



College Park’s trails are a regional hub

This story appeared in the November 2020 edition of College Park Here and Now, the new newspaper serving the College Park community.

By Colin Phillips

When Pratyush Tiwary’s plans to run a marathon in September fell through due to the pandemic, his alternative plans unfolded in a very College Park kind of way.

Pratyush and his wife, Megan Newcombe, recently moved here with help from the College Park City-University Partnership’s homebuyer program, and they both looked forward to the convenience of living close to their work at the University of Maryland (UMD). Their home in the Berwyn neighborhood also provided great access to the local network of walking, biking and running trails.

For his marathon, Pratyush devised a virtual race, on trails close to home, with easy access to supplies and refreshments, and including a mid-point water top-off from Megan. And instead of toughing out the last miles alone, he had pacing support from UMD student Matt Laskowski. Pratyush found Matt by connecting the dots between a name he recognized from his fitness tracker app, Strava, and a student’s name in the physical chemistry class he was teaching at UMD.


Pratyush Tiwary taking part in the College Park parkrun in Summer 2019

Strava is a popular social app for fitness activities like biking, running, walking and kayaking. Friends share activities, give kudos to support each other’s progress, and sometimes compete for speed or frequency on segments that users create. Popular Strava segments in College Park include the loop around Lake Artemesia and Shady Straight, the wooded stretch of the Paint Branch Trail north of Route 193.

Pratyush logs his activities on Strava. Sometimes he runs with his dog Pakora. He recognized Matt Laskowski as one of the faster runners in the area. Matt’s name appears near the top of the leaderboard on a lot of local Strava segments.

College Park has an enviable selection of trails that connect local neighborhoods and link the city to the broader region through a larger trail network.

Some of these trails, including the Northwest and Northeast Branch trails, the Paint Branch Trail and the Indian Creek Trail, are part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. The trolley trail follows an old streetcar line. The Lake Artemesia trails are a byproduct of building Metro’s Green Line.


Recent improvements have increased connectivity among trails. The Northeast Branch now continues to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which runs through Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and on to the District. The Paint Branch Trail now extends to Beltsville, and beyond to the Intercounty Connector Trail. The Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail now connects College Park to Riverdale Park and Hyattsville. A soon-to-open connector trail will link the College Park Woods neighborhood to the rest of the network. And more improvements are in the works to  give North College Park residents more direct access to the network of the trails.

College Park has arguably some of the best and most-used trails in the area, based on data in the Strava Global Heat Map. This app allows users to record where they are, and then it produces a cool — or, really, hot — visualization of where people are concentrated. The app shows College Park shining brightly.


The city’s trails are one of the attractions that brings visitors to College Park, including bicyclists and runners. Popular events like the Washington Area Bicycling Association’s November Cider Ride see hundreds of riders on our trails. The weekly Saturday College Park parkrun has introduced thousands to the Paint Branch Trail, and many of these runners return to the city’s trails at other times of the week, as well.

Prince George’s Running Club (PGRC) members hail from across the county, but many of their group runs take place on College Park’s trails and the UMD running track.

Recently, parkrun regular Stewart Mayhew ran 10 miles from his home in Chevy Chase to College Park, stopped to enjoy a mug at Vigilante Coffee, and then ran the 10 miles back home.

The College Park trails are what sociologist Ray Oldenburg called a third place — a place where people in a community come together, separate from home and work. It’s where we encounter familiar faces and start to recognize people we might not meet otherwise. With the pandemic forcing limits on indoor gatherings, having third places, outdoors, has become even more important.


When Pratyush Tiwary approached Matt Laskowski about helping with his marathon, Matt quickly agreed. “I am a part of Club Running at UMD. We think of ourselves as a part of the College Park running community. If somebody else in the community has some goal, then we are all for helping them reach their goals.”

A poll of PGRC runners found that the most popular elements of the local trails are shady stretches, wildlife and water fountains (when they are turned on). The trolley trail scored extra points for having waste stations for dog walkers. People would love to see more benches, even more shade and year-round bathrooms.

Riders would welcome improved lighting; this would potentially make the trails usable for year-round commuting. The proposed Paint Branch Riverwalk project could help integrate trails with other community activities and businesses.

And there are many who just don’t know about the great trail resources in our midst. Runner Matt Laskowski guesses that most UMD students are familiar with the stretch of the Paint Branch Trail right next to campus, but suspects that few are aware of the wonders that lie beyond.

For Pratyush Tiwary, his virtual marathon was a resounding success. He set out at 5:30 a.m., starting on the trolley trail, where the lighting made it possible to run before sunrise. Then he meandered around familiar trails until it was time to refuel and meet up with Matt Laskowski, who joined him for the last 10 miles. Matt’s pacing clearly helped, as Pratyush beat his best marathon time by nearly 30 minutes.




Introducing College Park Virtual parkrun

Don't let that big red banner at the top of the page make you think we've gone into hibernation. Although our normal events are on pause due to the pandemic, this community is alive and kicking despite COVID-19. Read on for more ...

If you're looking to submit your CP Virtual parkrun activity, you can use this form.


We love the big, warm community that has grown up around College Park parkrun since 2016. So it’s hard to believe that it’s months since we last came together on the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday morning. The CP parkrun team is excited to invite you to join us for an experiment: College Park Virtual parkrun, starting on Saturday May 2nd.



Our mission is simple: to create a healthy community, through social support for physical activity. We all need this as much as ever right now.

It could be many more months before events like ours can go ahead again. The curve has been flattened, but we have a long way to go. Maryland’s plan for gradual return to normalcy lays out a sensible, multi-step process. Some outdoor exercise activities may be among the first to return, while large sporting events will be among the last to return. It’s unclear where CP parkrun fits in this. But we don’t expect to be back to normal anytime soon.

So we want to find safe ways to keep doing this, even though we can’t come together.



Saturday May 2nd and every Saturday until we return to 'normal'.

All day long until 8:00 PM: Run or walk; any location. 5K is a good distance, but do more or less if you prefer. Tell us about it, by no later than 8:00 PM. Support other participants. See “How to get involved” below.

Late Morning: Social-but-distanced coffee meetup. Chat with old and new friends outdoors in a social-but-distanced setting, while supporting local businesses. Meet in the pocket park behind Vigilante Coffee and The Board and Brew.

We’ll share a summary of what happened. Part results, part event report. The focus is on sharing stories about what we did and interesting things that happened along the way. The reports and results are all shared via the News page on our website.



Nope. At our regular parkruns you can “just show up”, bringing your free personal barcode. At our virtual CP parkrun it’s even easier. No barcode needed. And you don’t even need to show up, because it’s happening right where you are!


Runners and walkers of all ages, backgrounds, and preferred paces. Everybody!

Our community includes some speedy runners, and also many folks who are happy to complete a 5K walk. Some are looking to beat their fastest time. Others are happy to get outside with their dog. If 5K feels like a stretch, and you’re working up to running or walking that far, no problem!

Our canine parkrunners, AKA “barkrunners”, are an important part of our community. They can’t record their own result at a regular parkrun, but at CP Virtual parkrun, why not! Running or walking with your pup is encouraged. And if s/he wants to record a separate time, go for it (but please tell us that Fido is your dog rather than your child).

Our main goal is to support folks in the area around College Park and the DMV, who could otherwise make it to our regular parkrun events. But we’re also looking forward to welcoming some “virtual tourists” from far away, and some parkrun friends who are living far away right now.



We have lots of electronic tools to help us support each other. It’s not like meeting up on the trail, but you work with what you’ve got. We are making a deliberate effort to not rely on any one social media channel. We want to accommodate different ways that community members prefer to use technology.


Tell us what you did. Support others in the community. You can provide evidence of your activity by sharing a screenshot from your watch or tracker app if you use one. But this is not required. Simply tell us, e.g., “Mary and Fido enjoyed a lovely 5K walk in their neighborhood. It took about an hour.” If you don’t care about your time, or don’t want it to be shared, no problem.

Use any of the following:

Facebook: we start a thread on the College Park parkrun Facebook page every Saturday. Add a comment about your activity. Like or comment on others’ activity. They notice!

Strava: we have a Strava “club”, Join the club, record your activity, and mention CP virtual parkrun ("CPVp"). Give kudos and comments on others’ activities.

NOTE: (i) the activity is only visible to us in the club activity feed if your Strava privacy settings allow it; (ii) frustratingly, the club activity feed shows only activities of type "run", though we love walking, too! Solutions are either to set the activity type to "run", or to drop us an email to confirm, or to add a comment on the Strava event post.

Results form:

Email: drop us a line at to tell us about what you did.

Voice: tell us about it if you see us on the trail on a Saturday morning or at the social-but-distanced coffee meetup.

If you’re not on our CP parkrun email list, now is a great time to join the 1000+ who already joined. The easiest way to join the list is to open a past parkrun ‘results’ email and click on the orange “manage my profile” button. Under “email options”, select “opt-in” for College Park (and make sure to click the green “save” button). We will never spam you. You’ll get a once weekly warm and fuzzy email from our co-Event Director Andrea, updating you on what’s happening and sharing supportive thoughts.


As this is not an official parkrun event, and it makes no use of the barcodes and central databases that we normally rely on, participation in the virtual parkrun does not count towards parkrun milestones and shirts. Participation is entirely for good health and good karma. We tally virtual participation and award badges for completing 5, 10, 25, etc. virtual parkruns.



Our 181 previous in-person parkrun events have been put on by hundreds of wonderful volunteers from our community. It works well because so many different people pitch in. CP Virtual parkrun is just the same, though some of the details have changed, e.g., no finisher token sorting needed. Here are some volunteer roles:

Results processors. Collect information on who did what that Saturday. This will be more manual, less magic than at a regular in-person parkrun.
Reporters. Gathering and sharing the story of what happened that day.



We’re staying apart because we’re fighting a pandemic. We must not aid the spread of COVID-19, and we also want everybody to be safe and healthy in every other way. That’s why we have just a few rules.

Distancing etc. You must follow all local regulations wherever you are taking part. This includes keeping a safe distance from others. In your area it may include rules on wearing masks, or closed parks, or staying within a short radius of home.

CP parkrun course. This is not a regular parkrun event, and we must not encourage larger gatherings. The CP parkrun course on the Paint Branch Trail is safe, measured, marked, and as beautiful as ever. We visit the trail almost every day, and it is always quiet. Feel free to do your CP Virtual parkrun on the regular route, but please do not make plans to congregate there. If you do visit the parkrun course, maybe take a selfie with our virtual course marshal signs (Lisa and Hump are out there 24/7).

Safe route and safe timing. Find a safe route of your choosing, and do not take safety risks. Stop your watch at a stop light. Take a breather. CP parkrun is not a race, and CP Virtual parkrun is REALLY not a race. (Report your “moving time”, not your “elapsed time”. It’s all fine.)

Indoor routes? Want to do your run or walk on your treadmill? Totally fine!


Children and vulnerable participants. Children should be in a safe setting with adult support. At our regular parkruns we require all under 11s to be with a responsible adult. For CP Virtual parkrun we ask that you follow AT LEAST the same standards, exercising good judgment. If you’re pounding the sidewalk, your 12-year old might need company. Alternatively, if your 10 year old is comfortable on the home treadmill, then a chaperone probably isn’t needed. If you’re in an at-risk group, especially if the weather is hot, take appropriate precautions. Tell somebody where you are going. Carry emergency contact information. If it’s hot, carry water

Distance. Any timed results that we report will be for 5K or 5K equivalent times. If you want to run more than 5K that’s perfectly fine. We’ll simply apply your average pace to a 5K distance. If you want to cover less distance that’s also fine. In that case we plan to list participation, but not a 5K equivalent time.

DISCLAIMER. This is not an official parkrun event. It is not coordinated with parkrun Global. It is a local initiative, inspired by parkrun and by the values of the College Park parkrun community. Running or walking close to your home is a private activity that you undertake on your own accord. Participation in College Park Virtual parkrun occurs when you share information about what you have done.



As usual, none of this would be possible without a great community of supporters, both local and far away. Thank you! You are what makes this community thrive.

Thanks to the many CP parkrun community members who have been sharing updates and stories with us during the pandemic: via social media, via email, or just via random encounters on the local trails. And thanks to the 40 community members who joined our virtual coffee meetup on 4/11. You showed the value of coming together even while we’re apart.


Thanks to the big group of CP parkrun volunteers who met up at very short notice to talk through ideas about how to preserve the warm, welcoming community in an online format.

Thanks to parkrun volunteers and teams in faraway places for inspiration and support on how to do this. Shane Sharkey at Melton Mowbray parkrun in the UK has been especially generous with his experience from their virtual parkruns. Check out their News page to see how they have been getting along. Kerstin Pepper at Perrigo parkrun in Redmond, WA led the way in organizing a US version of this model. Colin was fortunate to visit Perrigo in person in February, to check out their posh gazebo and (gasp!) heated bathrooms. And he joined their inaugural virtual parkrun on 4/25/20. Thanks to our friends at Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston, MA whose crazy efforts in a Virtual 24-hour relay showed us how much fun can be had while running far apart. We’re bummed that we couldn’t visit the inaugural of their new sister event, Danehy Park parkrun in Cambridge, MA, that had been due to start on 3/21/20. We can’t wait to see it thrive. And thanks to Prince George’s Parks & Recreation and our municipalities for keeping our lovely parks and trails maintained and open during the pandemic, so that we can all continue to enjoy them, safely.

See you (virtually) soon!

Colin, Andrea, and the CP Virtual parkrun Team



Auf Wiedersehen, Chris

We enjoy surprising people with our parkrunner of the Month award. So, for April 2020 it’s congratulations to Chris Roth! We planned this months ago, but things didn’t quite unfold as expected.


Chris’s PoTM award comes with a gift card to The Board and Brew, our wonderful coffee and brunch spot. But we won’t be able to give it to Chris in person, as he had to return to Germany as the COVID-19 crisis was escalating. Hopefully he can pass it along to some of his many parkrun friends.

(And whereas B&B donated these gift cards in the past (thank you!), right now we’re donating them, as local businesses need all the help they can get in these difficult times. You can order a B&B gift card online here. Here at CP parkrun Towers we’re ordering one for the family every Saturday.)


Chris moved to the area from Germany in November, planning to spend 6 months with UMD Engineering, working on his masters thesis. It can be difficult to meet people when you’re a temporary student in a new country, especially when you arrive in the middle of the school year. After a few weeks, Chris found out that this parkrun thing that he had come across back home at Kiessee parkrun in Göttingen also existed in College Park. So he came along to check us out. He clearly enjoyed it.


Chris's first time at CP parkrun, Dec 7th, 2019

Chris ran and volunteered on his first visit. Then he volunteered in different roles the next 2 weeks. Then he kept up a mix of running and volunteering almost every week until his last CP parkrun on March 7th. He generally ran from Hyattsville to parkrun, then made new friends at The Board and Brew after running and/or volunteering. And then he ran back home to Hyattsville.


Week 2, volunteering in the rain with new friends

Chis quickly became an ambassador for CP parkrun, inviting friends to join him on a Saturday morning, adding more friendly faces to the community.


Chris even got in on the baking scene, making a cake to share with his parkrun friends one week. (Ok, so he didn’t run to the park on that day. Thanks to Andrea for the transportation.)

Chris was due to remain in College Park through the end of April, and we were looking forward to a sendoff on his last day in the US on April 25th. That’s why we also planned the PoTM award for April. But plans unraveled when everything changed because of COVID-19. With UMD research shut down or moved online, and students dispersing around the world, Chris had to take a chance to get back to Germany before travel became nearly impossible.


New Year's Day, 2020. Working with Tomas Marambio (from Chile), scanning 285 finishers

Chris sent us this message about his experience with the CP parkrun community.

“Getting up extra early every Saturday to run 3 miles to get to College Park and participate in parkrun by running a timed 5k only to run 3 miles back home might sound strange. In fact, it’s awesome!

But why is it that College Park parkrun is so popular, with well over 100 finishers and way more volunteers than needed, eager to meet up every Saturday? For me personally, it was never about aiming for a new PB. It was about meeting diverse people and being part of a great community that supports each other to stay active and experiencing great moments or conversations together.


The small details mattered, like sharing a cake someone prepared in advance, cheering for someone ringing the PB bell, or celebrating someone's milestone for 50+ runs. It's a place where I found friends while sitting at The Board & Brew for breakfast, enjoying pancakes and drinking coffee.

A small place of peace and happiness in our crazy world!”

Thank you, Chris! We will miss you. Thanks for making a difference in our community in your short time here. We hope you’ll visit us some time in the future. Auf Wiedersehen!




Karaoke, a 5K, and the Grand Canyon

This is the first in a new series of occasional stories about members of the College Park parkrun community. We are thankful to Rebecca White for sharing her story, which shows how one person's resolve, combined with a supportive community, can make a world of difference. 

My name is Rebecca Vandenbroeck White. I am 56 years old. I am a parkrun walker and volunteer at College Park parkrun. Over the last year parkrun has become a vital part of my living a healthy lifestyle.


Making a Choice

In August of 2018 I reached a crucial point in my life. I realized that at over 340 pounds I had a choice to make. I could either change the way I was living or face being housebound in a short period of time. It wasn’t just my weight that had caused this, but also an ever increasing lack of activity had left me so weak that I could not walk from my place of employment to the parking lot without stopping to sit. I could not stand for any period of time without my back screaming in agony. I could not even put on my own socks. When my family went to a museum, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair.

Most days I went to work, came home, lay on the couch, went to bed, got up and then repeated the same process. I’d come home Friday evenings and not leave the house again until the following Monday morning. Outside of family, work and Facebook I had no sense of belonging to a community. I was living in a self-imposed prison caused by obesity and lack of movement.

In August 2018 I started working out and logging my food intake. It was hard. It was frustrating. But being fat and out of shape was harder. I couldn’t lift five pounds. Honestly, I couldn’t lift 2 pound weights more than a few repetitions. But I began losing weight and getting stronger. I was able to take short walks. I felt hope, but I still felt isolated.

Making a List

One day I made a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do as a result of my new, healthier lifestyle and one of the things I listed was to participate in a 5K. I knew that was a long way off, but I put it on there next to going to the Grand Canyon, kayaking, and singing karaoke. A few weeks passed, and a high school friend posted on her Facebook page about participating in a 5K. I mentioned to her that I hoped to do that one day. Through the wonder of social media another old friend saw my post and told me about this thing called parkrun in Renton, Washington, and suggested I check to see if there was a local parkrun. I did and discovered there were a few within driving distance, with College Park being the closest.

Becoming a Lurker

I was interested in parkrun, but was it really for someone like me? Most of my workouts were strength training, stationary recumbent bicycling and water fitness. I didn’t run. I didn’t jog. And honestly, I still wasn’t walking all that much beyond the minimum required. So, I lurked. I read through the parkrun international website. I found College Park parkrun’s Facebook page. I even found a video of [co-event director] Colin videoing a parkrun with a GoPro. The route looked beautiful, and it was flat. Great! I saw smiling people. Great! Runners, walkers, families, babies in strollers, and dogs on leashes. Great! Hmmmm. Maybe this was something for me to check out. I figured I didn’t have to do the whole 5k, I could turn around if I wanted to. There was even a post on the parkrun Facebook page about someone who did just that, and when he was able to complete the whole event, people were happy for him. Cool!

In December of 2018 I registered for parkrun. Every week I read the Facebook page. Every week I watched the weather. Too cold. Too wet. Snow. Ice. It looked like there would never be a perfect weekend to go. Excuses, anyone?

Team Sloth: We’ll Get There When We Get There

Finally, I told myself to quit putting it off and I went. That was February 9, 2019 - one year ago. I had gotten a special shirt with the saying “Sloth Running Team. We’ll get there when we get there.” Two ladies saw my shirt and came over and introduced themselves. Lucy and Laurie really made me feel welcome, and the funny thing is they were first timers, too. What a gift. I found out the next time they are regular 5K and marathon participants but they had heard about parkrun and came to check it out. They’ve been regulars ever since.

Well, I’d love to say that I walked the 5k route with ease that day, that I have set personal bests (PBs) on a regular basis, and that I now run with the wind. But no. That is not my story.

That day I quickly found out how slow I really do walk - the sloth shirt proved to be prophetic. I was not prepared for the walk, or for the temperatures in the mid 20’s that morning. After a while I became concerned I wouldn’t be able to finish. I did not believe in myself. I was anxious. But I was not alone. The tail walker was with me. Misha had caught up with me and we talked as we walked. She never rushed me - she met my pace. And when I decided to turn back she took my picture so I could see how far I’d made it. I had gone one mile.


Tailwalker Misha took this picture when I turned back at the one mile mark, as a target for the next time I came back.

Of course, I had to walk back and at a total distance of 1.7 miles I stopped at Hump’s Crossing and Kim (subbing for Hump) gave me a lift back to the finish. I would need to learn how to dress for the weather and how to believe in myself.

The next Saturday I came back. The temperature was warmer than the previous week and the memories of the warm welcome were still fresh. I was not wrong to return. A woman I had met the week before walked almost the entire trail with me. Wow! Lori wasn’t the tail walker, and she definitely can walk faster than I can, but she chose to walk along and keep me company for the entire parkrun. Two others, Valerie and Lucy, came back out after they finished and met us along the trail and walked in with us. Basically strangers, but supporting me in a way that meant the world. Oh, I said “entire parkrun” didn’t I? Because on that day February 16, 2019 with a finish time of over 90 minutes I completed my first 5K. It was hard, but I just kept going one step at a time. Along the way and at the finish line, I was cheered and high-fived and it felt incredible.


Lori and Misha supported me the whole way



Complete a 5K - check!

The Struggle

A year has gone by now. I would like to say it has all been happy times, and mostly it has been. However, there were times when friction blisters or joint pain made it to where I could barely cross the finish line. But these physical pains were only part of it. The real struggle was dealing with crushing self doubt. That first week I did not realize the average finish time was under 40 minutes, and it had taken me more than twice that. When I realized how much of an outlier my time was, I again allowed anxiety to build up. I told myself I did not belong there. I was making the volunteers wait. They would resent me. They would quit volunteering if they had to wait so long in the cold, the rain, the heat, the sun ….

But, everytime I showed up, they cheered, high-fived, walked with me and came back out to walk me in. They told me in words and actions that I deserved to be a part of parkrun just as much as the 18-minute finishers. Others walked with me and helped me feel a part of the community - Andrea, Lori, Lisa, Valerie, Misha, Külli, Yancira, Anna, Ellen (with barkrunner Eli), and other tail walkers whose names I do not remember but whose faces are in my memory.


Since my first parkrun my times have improved. I will never be a fast finisher, but I set goals and have seen my times improve. On February 8th 2020, the one year anniversary of my first parkrun attempt, I finished in 70 minutes. It was a personal best and over 20 minutes off my first finish time.


In addition to walking, I have also volunteered many times. Photography is my favorite way to volunteer, but there are a variety of different volunteer jobs that I enjoy and that give me an opportunity to participate in and build the community I have embraced.



Filling my bucket

Of course, parkrun isn’t all there is to life, but it has sure added to mine. I have a community that I know will always be there, every Saturday at 9:00. On February 15 I will complete my 20th College Park parkrun. I have definitely marked completing a 5K off my bucket list. Although I haven’t yet made it to the Grand Canyon, I have been kayaking and I have sung karaoke in the past year. I continue to keep up other fitness activities - even adding in a weekly gentle round of racquetball with my son. I have now lost over 60 pounds and am working to lose more.

Through learning to quiet my self doubts during parkrun I find it easier to quell those negative voices in other parts of my life. Wanting to do better at parkrun yet having a distaste for treadmills, I started going outside more to walk. I have rediscovered my love of nature and hiking. I have taken up birdwatching and nature photography, and my life is no longer so insular. I am grateful for the second chance to actually enjoy the life I have been given.

Fill your bucket

If you have thought about going to parkrun, come along some Saturday. If you need an invitation, here it is. Come, see what parkrun is about. If you have come before but were worried that you weren’t fast enough, come back. parkrun is there for everyone.  And, if you have an empty bucket, bring it along. We’ll help you fill it with fun, support and community.



New Years Day 2020!

We are excited to host our 4th annual New Years Day parkrun, starting at 10:30am on Jan 1st, 2020. It's the same free, friendly, 5K run/walk as always, except that it's on a Wednesday, and it starts later than usual.

Read on for further information about additional attractions, parking, and more.NYD 2020 Flyer CP Square


To take part, simply show up with a printed copy of your FREE personal parkrun barcode. One-time registration takes just a couple of minutes, and then is your ticket to parkrun forever. When you sign up, please consider opting in to our once weekly email update about College Park parkrun news and volunteering. It's a dose of positivity in the middle of your week, and it's how we keep the event free, for everyone, forever.

Double Fun

If you're looking for an extra challenge, consider starting the day at Kensington parkrun or Leakin Park parkrun (Baltimore), both of which start at 8:30am. NYD is the one day of the year when you can record two parkruns, and so the start times are staggered to make this possible. Last year 43 people combined College Park with another parkrun to start the year, and we expect more to give it a try this year.

If you go to Kensington, we recommend to park in the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church lot. If you go to Leakin Park, parking at Winan's Meadow is limited, so we recommend to arrive in good time to secure a spot.

NYD 2020 Flyer Square

For your double you could choose to skip College Park entirely and head to Fletcher's Cove instead. They're also starting at 10:30am.


College Park parkrun is not only for runners. Parkwalkers are just as welcome, too. And NOBODY is too slow to fit in. We guarantee that you won't finish last, as we always provide the last finisher. That's the role of our tailwalker.

Whatever your pace, you will have company. And on our out-and-back course along the Paint Branch Trail, everybody gets to see everybody else in the course of the event, providing lots of opportunity to cheer one another.


We are looking forward to celebrating many things to start off the New Year.

  • Most of all, simply being together with a warm, supportive community in a beautiful natural setting. We are grateful to Prince George's Parks & Recreation for allowing us to use the trail for free every week.
  • We expect to celebrate a number of regular parkrunners who will be reaching the milestone of 50 or 100 parkruns completed. This may include Bonnie McClellan, who will be completing her 50th time just a few weeks before her 80th birthday. Seniors like Bonnie inspire us!
  • A few people will be celebrating a birthday on January 1st, so there may be cake.
  • We expect to welcome visitors from near and far, including parkrunners from around the region and from other states.
  • We always celebrate the volunteers that make our events happen every week. Hundreds of community members take turns putting on the event, and we will celebrate them just like any other day.
  • The show will be led on Wednesday by Pam Marcus, co-Event Director at Kensington parkrun. Pam was a regular volunteer and run director at College Park before heading off to start an event for her own local community. To start the new year she will be doing a unique double by being run director at both Kensington and College Park on the same day, with ace crews of volunteers on hand to support her in both places.


We're expecting a big, fun crowd in College Park. So parking at Acredale Park will be limited. Additional free parking is available at UMD Lot 11b, a 5-minute walk down the trail from the start, or at College Park Lanes bowling alley, across Baltimore Avenue from the Holiday Inn Express. Please allow a few extra minutes for parking. Or come by foot or by bike to parkrun.

Post-parkrun Brunch

All are invited to join for a big community brunch at The Board and Brew in College Park afterwards. And don't feel that you have to complete the 5K to join for brunch. If you or a family member would prefer to sleep in and just come join the post-parkrun fun, you're 100% welcome!

Dogs, Strollers, Kids

We very much welcome dogs at parkrun ("barkrunners"). But please keep your pup on a short leash, to help avoid mishaps. We also welcome strollers. They help the whole family to enjoy getting active outdoors together. Please buckle up your passengers - the lips on the bridges can be bumpy, and we don't want to see any kids go flying.

Also, kids age 4 upwards are welcome to take part with their own barcode. But we ask that under 11s always stay close to a parent or other responsible adult.





New Years 2019 parkrunning

On January 1st 2019 we will hold our 3rd annual College Park Resolution parkrun. It is a wonderful way to start out the new year, and we hope that you can join us.

The College Park Resolution parkrun will start at the unusual time of 10:30am on January 1st. This is because New Years is the one day of the year when it is possible for parkrunners to log two parkruns in the same day. Currently at least Leakin Park parkrun and Kensington parkrun have expressed an intent to hold an 8:30am event, and a couple of the DC parkruns  are considering this.

So you can sleep in a little longer, or you can try a double parkrun. Either way, plan on staying behind afterwards for a big start of the year brunch at The Board and Brew, with parkrun friends from our community and across the DMV.


Thanksgiving 2018 parkrunning

Subject to confirmation of permission by Prince George's Parks, we plan to hold our first ever College Park parkrun ("Turtle Trot"?), at 9:00 on Thursday November 22nd.

Thanksgiving is the largest running day in the world, with around 1 million people taking part in running events across the US. And Thanksgiving is all about family and community ... and the odd bite to eat. So a Thanksgiving parkrun seems like an obvious choice.

And of course it's totally free.


New Years Day 2018 at College Park parkrun

Start 2018 off on the right foot with College Park parkrun. January 1st 2018 is going to be special for us in many ways.

Resolution parkrun. On January 1st College Park parkrun starts at 10:30am [course; registration]. The one time in the year when parkrun happens at a time other than 9am Saturday. Our Resolution parkrun is a partnership with our friends at Prince George's Running Club. We teamed up in 2017, and are excited to do the same again in 2018.

Double parkrun! New Years double parkruns are a popular tradition in countries like Australia and the UK, but 1/1/18 will be the first time that this is possible in North America. Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore will start at 8:30am. So you can do a warm up at Leakin Park, then zip down to College Park for another. If you combine this with the regular Saturday parkrun, then you can make strong progress towards your parkrun milestone in one weekend.

Help us set a new attendance record at Leakin Park. And come see how parkrun and local partners are working to get people to revisit one of America's great urban wildernesses.

Brunch! Following College Park parkrun there will be a get together for all area parkrunners at The Board and Brew, where we will be joined by parkrunners from across the region.

Cake alert! 1/1/18 is also when co-event director Colin Phillips will be turning 50 years old ... AND doing his 50th parkrun (and his 51st). So chances of cake are above average.

Include parkrun in your New Years plans.

PARKING: We anticipate larger-than-usual turnout for the New Years parkrun, so consider parking away from Acredale Park. UMD Lot 11b is right next to the Paint Branch Trail, and perfectly placed for the post-parkrun brunch at The Board and Brew. Parking at AMF Lanes bowling on Route 1 is also available. Please park on the edges of the lot, so as to not interfere with bowling customers.



5 reasons we’re excited for 5/27 (plus parking and volunteering)

On May 27th we’re looking forward to a very special edition of College Park parkrun, with a visit by parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who will be joining from the UK. If you haven’t been to College Park parkrun before, or if you haven’t come in a while, THIS is the week to join us. Scroll down for notes on parking, brunch, and volunteer needs. We have lots of free parking, easily walkable to the parkrun, but allow a few extra minutes if you'll be driving this week.

Or if you want a map of all the locations, you can go directly here.


Five Reasons Why We’re Excited

College Park parkrun takes place every Saturday, year round. Here are reasons why this week is special.

  1. Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Paul’s little meetup with friends in a London park in 2004 grew into the world’s largest running event. He is an inspiring social innovator. With 1200 events worldwide every week to choose from, we’re thrilled that Paul will be joining us in College Park. Read Paul's parkrun story.
  2. College Park. We have beautiful trails, wonderful people, and a super supportive city that is currently on a roll. We’re proud that our free, weekly event helps to show off the cool things happening here. College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn and former mayor Andy Fellows are among the changemakers in town who are also regular parkrunners.
  3. #parkrunfamily. Paul’s visit will bring parkrunners from other parkruns across the region to College Park. We’re excited to welcome them here.
  4. New friends. We love meeting people who are new to parkrun, and we anticipate plenty of opportunities for this on Saturday.
  5. Record turnout? With good luck and good weather, we might be able to set an American Record for parkrun attendance. (193 is the total to beat for a single event, and 570 is the total to beat for the 9 events countrywide.)



Parking & Transportation

We have ample free parking, but the little parking lots right by the start/finish at Acredale Park likely will fill up early. We will have a parking marshal at the intersection of Route 1 & Metzerott Road, by Rita's Italian Ice. If you pull in there, you can get directions. Your other options, shown in this interactive map.

  • Ride your bike or walk/run. The Paint Branch Trail is beautiful and safe. (And it's about 2 miles from College Park metro station.)
  • University of Maryland Lot 11b (free). This is a very convenient place to park for the run and the post-run coffee. It is on Paint Branch Drive a half mile south of Route 193, in view of the Xfinity Center (UMD basketball stadium) and directly next to the Paint Branch Trail. It’s an easy walk along the trail to the start. It’s also perfectly placed for the post-run meetup at The Board and Brew. But the drive to there from the start/finish is a bit circuitous. Consider driving directly there.
  • AMF Lanes Bowling, 9021 Baltimore Avenue / Route 1 (free), College Park. Big parking lot a couple of hundred yards from the start. The bowling alley is opposite the Holiday Inn Express that overlooks the start/finish. Please park in spots away from the alley, then cross Baltimore Avenue and walk down the lane next to Rita’s Italian Ice. Don't park in the Pizza Hut lot next door, or the Holiday Inn Express across the street.
  • The Varsity, 8150 Baltimore Avenue / Route 1 (*paid*). From here it’s a few minutes’ walk along the trail to the start, but you’re perfectly located for the post-run meetup at The Board and Brew.


Post-run Coffee/Brunch

College Park parkrun is social. Every week after the run we meet up for coffee or brunch at The Board and Brew, an awesome café that’s just a few minutes’ walk along the trail from the start/finish. They have great coffee and treats, and it’s also a popular hangout for board game aficionados. It’s a great time to chat with old and new friends. Don’t know anybody at the run? Not a problem -- it’s always a super-friendly group. The Board and Brew is reserving extra space for us this week.

Where: The Board and Brew. 8150 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD.
When: after the run, for as long as you want.
Who: old and new friends.IMG_6136



Volunteers Needed

College Park parkrun is 100% led by volunteer parkrunners, and we have some extra volunteer needs this week.

  • A photographer and/or videographer (no fancy equipment needed)
  • An extra time-keeper
  • Pre-run help, directing cars and runners
  • Lead bike to alert trail users

Drop us a line at if you or a friend can help.

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