College Park parkrun is cancelled on 11 July 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

We crossed America and we found … kittens!! (Virtual parkrun Report 5)

Warm and fuzzy overload

This week’s CP Virtual parkrun #5 had it all: the warm community, supporting each other to stay healthy and connected; a perfect day for getting outdoors (for those of us in Maryland and DC, at least); the fun of joining with SO MANY friends and family to complete our parkrun Across America challenge; the joy of meeting new babies … and kittens!

Yes, we had TWO stories of virtual parkruns that turned into kitten rescue adventures. We couldn’t make this up.

The only other thing we could wish for is to be able to come together again.

Oh, right. And to not be in a health crisis and an economic and societal meltdown. These things are on all our minds right now. Consider this report a mix of escapism and celebrating the good that can come from healthy communities that support one another.

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Jessica, Gus, and Cora did their virtual parkrun together in Linthicum

Facts and Figures

234 participants

1,010 miles covered

82 first-timers

55 five-timers

17 barkrunners

7 virtual volunteers

Participants in 15 states: MD, CT, NJ, OH, MI, IA, CO, TX, MN, NC, MA, VA, ID, RI, DC

Participants in 10 countries: USA, UK, Germany, Costa Rica, Australia, Singapore, Estonia, Canada, Norway, and Italy

THIS WEEK'S RESULTS TABLE

This week’s 234 participants is not only a record for CPVp, it also surpasses our record for a regular Saturday parkrun. The only days when we have seen more people are Thanksgiving and New Years. Of course, we had a LOT of help from our friends this week.

We made it home!

Our target for the day was to cover 877 miles to complete our virtual parkrun across America challenge. A bit of a tall order, as we had averaged 450 miles in weeks 1-3 and stretched to 720 miles in week 4.

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To make things a little more interesting, we devised a route that visited TEN different parkrun venues along the way across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. We finished with a lap around the DC metro area to visit all of the local parkrun venues.

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7-year old Xander Mease decided to choose which part of the route he and mom Tara were running. He was setting out early, so he thought that a section around the Illinois-Indiana border would be a good pick. Nice way to fold in an extra geography lesson.

By lunchtime we had made it to Mansfield, OH parkrun, where a number of locals contributed miles. We highly recommend a visit to Mansfield if you’re in central Ohio some Saturday. Their event was the next one to launch after College Park, in January 2017, and they could not be a more friendly group of people.

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Barkrunner Foxy did her run right on the course of Sippo Lake parkrun in Canton OH, which our virtual route passed in the early afternoon.

By late afternoon our route took us from Pennsylvania into Maryland, through Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, MD. As it happens, Neil Jograj, Julie Russell, Dottie Jograj, and barkrunner Trista did their virtual parkwalk in that very park this week!

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Late afternoon - back in Maryland. Neil, Julie, and Trista (with Dottie) at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, MD (visit some time - it's lovely!)

By early evening we were approaching DC, looking like it would be very close. Misha Bernard dispatched her son Alex to walk a couple of miles for the cause -- thanks, Alex! -- and by 7pm we had reached the target. There’s just no way that at the start of May, when we started our virtual parkruns, we would have expected to make it across the continent by the end of May. And it was even less probable to make it home just one hour before our cut-off time on May 30th.

In fact, we ended up easily passing our target, as additional results surfaced over the course of the evening. So we crossed the continent with over a hundred miles to spare! (We considered continuing on to Ocean City, to dip our toes in the Atlantic. But no, that’s maybe not such a good idea.)

May Totals

  • 3,085 miles covered
  • 805 activities by 339 individuals
  • Ages 1 to 86 years
  • Distances of 0.5 to 20 miles
  • Paces from “world class” to “let’s stop and photograph some birds”

An extra shout out this week for some folks who did some big pulls for the team to help us reach our miles target.

David Lai ran 20 miles on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail in Glen Burnie, MD. His route included the planned course for the new parkrun that we hope can start there later in the year.

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Cory Kind and Adam Gann and barkrunner Walker, all from Roosevelt Island parkrun, did 8.5 miles each, adding 25 miles to the account.

Steve and Karen Crane, leaders of Mansfield, OH parkrun, ran 10 miles together, helping us across Ohio. Steve and Karen have visited us for a number of our special events, and we always love welcoming them to College Park. They were last here for our New Year’s Double.

Ndegwa Kamau and Gail Sockwell-Thompson from PG Running Club together added 20 miles to the total. Thanks guys!

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The Great Kitten Caper

Gloria Cottman and Tracy Huard hadn’t expected to see each other on the Paint Branch Trail this week, so when they found themselves finishing their virtual parkruns around the same time, they sat down in the grass near the parking lot to get caught up.

At one point, Gloria looked up to see two women running toward them with a black smudge jumping at their heels. "Is that a dog?” Gloria asked, before answering her own question:“No, it's too small to be a dog.  It's a cat!  Is she running with her CAT?!" In fact, it was a small black kitten.

Around the same time, back near Hump’s crossing, Joanna, Dave, and Alyssa Heintzelman were nearing the end of the trail, when a (different) black kitten came running up to Joanna, and meowed loudly at her.

As near as we can figure, someone had abandoned both kittens near Hump’s Crossing, and they had chosen to do so at just the right moment. Because these chance encounters ended up with both kittens finding their forever homes.

Dave Heintzelman was able to catch kitten #2 without much trouble, and little Beau (below, left) is now happily camped out in the Heintzelman’s home.

Kitten #1 followed the runners all the way to the parking lot, where it played hide-and-seek with a small handful of parkrunners, getting right up onto the tires of Trace’s car. With critical help from Ada Lee (one of the women the kitten had followed), and an offering of some chicken sausage as a lure by an innocent bystander, kitten #1 was finally collected. By then, Ada’s running companion had already called home to alert her husband and son that their son’s dream of having a kitten was about to come true, and they arrived on the scene, and took it home.

Now that’s what we call teamwork!

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Meet Beau and ... other kitten?

The High Five Club

We love celebrating parkrun milestones, and we’re bummed to have missed a lot of 50 and 100 celebrations this spring. Our virtual parkruns are entirely off-label, unofficial, samizdat … you get the idea. But this means that we can roll out our own recognition for CPVp regulars, and so this week we’re giving a shout out for folks who have completed 5 virtual parkruns already.

Sorry, no t-shirts or medals. But we’re adding badges to our results list for folks who reach 5 CPVps. And the badge represents one of the things we miss about Saturday mornings: the high fives along the trail.

Congratulations to the FIFTY FOUR virtual parkrunners who took part every single week in May. Wow! You can see their names with the high five badge in this week’s results table.

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Frank Snyder is confined to his retirement community in Gaithersburg during the pandemic, but he's one of our 54 virtual parkrunners with HIGH FIVE badges

Speedy!

Speed is all relative. We don’t much care whether you’re the fastest or the slowest, or go the longest or the shortest. But we LOVE celebrating your achievements.

Stewart Mayhew equalled his best ever parkrun time in 22:06, and is surely ready for a new PB once we get together again. After finishing his 5K, Stewart headed off for another 6 miles around the trails of College Park to add to our transcontinent challenge.

We were excited to see Dominique Lisiero do a 21:44 time trial on the CP parkrun route. That’s her second fastest time ever. One year ago this weekend we were starting to notice that Dominique was “parkrunning for two”, and she has been doing some stroller running lately. Dominique commented: “I got to imagine all the CP runners pulling me along the course yesterday. It gave me a good push!”

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Dominique Lisiero at CP parkrun one year ago. It has been a busy year!

Paul Wester deserves a shout out for consistency. Paul’s virtual parkruns are part of a run-every-day streak, and this week he reached 6 months of running every single day. Nice going, Paul!

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Paul Wester has not missed a day of running in half a year!

At CPVp HQ the whole family was inspired to push the pace.

Andrea Zukowski has run faster in every single CPVp so far, and her 32:28 is her fastest 5K in over 2 years. Nice! Colin Phillips ran his fastest 5K of the year in 19:48. Happy to be returning from injury, and even happier to get to say hi to a bunch of parkrunners along the way. But pride of place goes to Zoe Phillips, who walked 8.5 miles around University Park to contribute to the parkrun Across America challenge. This is the furthest Zoe has covered in a long while.

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Colin’s time was almost the fastest of the day. But it was narrowly eclipsed by Simon Wraight, running on a route with a 400’ drop in Concord, NH. Is that against the rules? Definitely not! The rules for CPVp are: “Have fun, stay safe, and be creative!”

Cindy Cohen has been honing her downhill running skills, and this week she managed her fastest ever parkrun 5K time, running 23:48 near her new home in Sandpoint, ID … on a route with a 900’ drop!

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... And then we heard from Cindy Conant, a CP parkrun regular who’s also part of the Kensington parkrun crew. Cindy timed her 5K in 20:14 this week. That’s pretty quick. Especially when you consider that Cindy’s 59 years old and this translates into a 93% age-grading. (For a 30-year old male, this would translate into a 13:55 5K.) Oh, and by the way, Cindy did this as part of a 13-mile run. And after that she was going to meet up with her new running buddy, 11-year old neighbor Kai Martin, to do an extra 5K. We love this!

Newcomers

This week we had a whopping 82 newcomers join our virtual event! Adrian Dover wanted to do his part to help get us home, and with his encouragement, his wife Stella did her first parkrun event of any kind (real or virtual) in the Dymock Woods in Gloucestershire, UK. Adrian’s second recruit was his friend Colin Nattrass, who lives in Singapore. Colin did a brisk 10k walk to test an injured knee, and his route covered part of Singapore’s East Coast parkrun.

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Adrian Dover has done over 200 parkruns, including 20 at College Park. This week his wife Stella joined him for the very first time. Welcome, Stella!!

Adrian wasn’t the only one recruiting friends and family this week. Duane Rosenberg pulled in his nephew Jeff, in Denver, and his brother Dave, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Zoe Phillips shared the news about our ambitious Run Across America with a small group of friends all over North America (in Brownsville, TX, Minneapolis, and Toronto), and they (and their pups) were excited to participate, collectively logging more than a marathon worth of miles: 26.7.

Külli told her good friend Heddi back in Estonia about our event, and Heddi registered for official parkruns on the same day that she did her first unofficial virtual event, choosing a path around a lake. They have plans to visit Finland together when the fates allow, and to do some parkrun tourism there.

First-time virtual parkrunner Zebi Brown was doing her first run after being out injured for many months. Zebi wrote: “I sprained my ankle in the fall and I’ve only started easing into running again in the last few weeks. Today was the furthest I’ve run since the injury: .75 miles. Proud of my progress and proud I’m not pushing my body too hard.”

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Anna Tinnemore recruited her friends Julianne, Mary and Matt to help us complete the cross America challenge. Thanks for your miles, guys! We hope you can join us some time to check out our favorite trail.

Roosevelt Islanders

We were thrilled to be joined this week by a crew from Roosevelt Island DC parkrun. If you haven’t visited their hidden gem downtown you really must. The island is right across from the Kennedy Center but easily overlooked. It’s great for a parkrun, or just for a quiet stroll some time. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of Washington DC.

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We welcomed RI parkrun co-Event Director Joyce Adams to lead this week’s Zoom parkrun briefing. Joyce has run or volunteered at CP many times before, and it’s always great to see her smiling face on a Saturday.

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Guest briefing by Joyce from Roosevelt Island. And do you see baby Sophia!

A few of the RI crew joined us for our virtual coffee meetup, which was lovely!

Anna Weber shared her philosophy for route planning during the pandemic. Choose quiet streets, preferably the ones with the cutest pups that you can pet along the way. #protip

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Anna checked out the local not-so-wildlife in Arlington, VA

Tereza Horejsova and the rest of "the Czech team" completed 6K each, adding a solid 30K to our total.

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And one of the nicest surprises of the day came when RI regular Hillary Roberts joined the briefing and the coffee along with a new family member -- baby Sophia! Sophia is just 4 weeks old.

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Virtual Visitors

This week we had virtual visitors from so many different places.

We had participants from 14 different US parkrun events join the fun: Anacostia, Delaware & Raritan Canal (NJ), Durham NC, Fletcher’s Cove (DC), Jamaica Pond (Boston), Kensington, Leakin Park, Lillie (Ann Arbor, MI), Livonia (MI), Mansfield OH, Mountain Goat Trail (TN), Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation (Cleveland, OH), Roosevelt Island DC, Sippo Lake (Canton, OH).

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Janet found a beautiful route on the coast in Newport, RI for her virtual parkrun. And her virtual parkrun also had this lovely looking cake! Might be related to her birthday - Happy Birthday, Janet!

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Three years ago this week, Rory and barkrunner Dolly were doing one of their last runs at College Park before starting new events further north. This week they joined us from northern NJ..

The Barnes family from Australia joined us en masse this week. All five of them did a virtual 5K from Valentine, New South Wales. Looks like a spectacular location on the Pacific coast.

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Team Barnes added 5 x 5K = 25K to our total in Valentine, NSW, Australia!

Stefano Gazzano continued taking us on virtual Italian travels. This week he sent us a picture of dawn over the Tyrrhenian Sea near his home in Civitavecchio in Italy.

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Joan Heffernan, who is now a proud member of our High Five club, managed to incorporate two states into her run. Starting from her home in Suffield, CT she made it across the state line into Massachusetts.

Random Fun

College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn went the extra mile in helping us get across America. In addition to his 5K run, he also put in some extra distance while mowing the lawn. His GPS track shows thorough coverage of he and Dave’s back yard. Interestingly, it shows Patrick veering across the street at one point. That could tell you something about GPS accuracy, or it could tell you how much Patrick is looking out after his neighbors. Your guess is as good as ours.

Barkrunner Sophie appears to have had a great time on her run with Evan and Katie Hirsche. Chasing sticks and splashing in streams were part of the fun.

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One bedraggled -- and happy -- barkrunner!

Amy Rice did a virtual fundraiser challenge that involved completing a mile every hour for 6 hours. And her son Sawyer and their barkrunner Tucker joined for 3 of those miles. Great team effort, guys!

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Nice work, Amy, Sawyer, and Tucker!

Crystal Bergemann did what she called an “anti-parkrun”. She found that if you head along the trail from home to the parkrun start and back, it’s almost exactly 5K.

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Jeremy Reuter is enjoying virtually parkrunning with his 9-year old son Luke. He reports that they’re going a little further and making fewer stops every week. Luke already has a barcode, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the trail when we start up again

Volunteers

5 weeks in to hosting our Virtual events, we are starting to feel like we’ve got a good handle on how this new rodeo works. Results collecting is a big job, but it’s also enormously fun being part of a small team of people funneling results and little tidbits of stories into a shared document throughout the day on Saturday, and watching the miles and the participants pile up.

Tara Mease has been outstanding as Results Coordinator since our first virtual event, and this week her team of helpers included Trace Huard (who had so much fun in week 4 that he volunteered immediately after to help with week 5), Anna Tinnemore, Joyce Adams, Colin Phillips, and Andrea Zukowski.

The other Really Big Job of our virtual events is preparation of this Run Report. This week we debuted a new job: Run Report Technical Helper. These are folks we ask to deposit all the best photos, quotes, and stories that people have shared from one source or another (Facebook, email, Strava) into a shared folder. This is enormously helpful to the Run Report writer! This week’s Run Report Technical helpers were Lori Dominick and Andrea Zukowski. The Run Report writers this week were Colin Phillips (mostly), with cameo appearances by Andrea Zukowski and Trace Huard.

This week we also owe a big thank you to Joyce Adams for being our Virtual Run Director. And of course we owe extra special thanks to the team of parkrunners who helped rescue and find forever homes for two unexpected kittens: Trace Huard, Gloria Cottman, and Ada Lee. Thank you, all of you!

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Gloria thought her virtual parkrun adventure was finished. Little did she know that it was only just beginning.

What the future holds

We’re often asked when we’ll be back to regular in person parkruns. We know that it will happen eventually, but we really don’t know when, and we don’t expect it to be soon, alas.

For CP parkrun to return to normal, we need local social distancing requirements to be removed, and we need parkrun Global to authorize reopening of US events.

Although Prince George’s County has announced cautious initial steps towards reopening, starting on June 1st, these steps are quite limited, and they do not come close to what is needed to allow 200-person events to go ahead.

The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for COVID-19 in Maryland is slowing, but only very slowly. So it’s important that we all do our part to prevent a new surge. In College Park we are surrounded by the worst-hit area of the state. Our actions help to protect those around us.

And in parkrun world, all events worldwide will remain closed through the end of June, at least. We have no inside information, but New Zealand has handled the pandemic much, much better than the US so far. And so we are curious to see if they will be ready to re-start their parkruns later this summer.

Meanwhile, there are new attractions to look forward to when we’re next able to come together on the Paint Branch Trail. Work on the connector trail to the College Park Woods neighborhood is now progressing rapidly. This will make it easier for some of our parkrun community to enjoy the trail system. Thanks to the city and the county for making this possible!

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New connector trail in progress!

See you next week!

Your CP Virtual parkrun team

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Wonka enjoying his barkwalk in Hyattsville

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Valerie checked out some of the front yard graduation signs near her neighborhood

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In Michigan Tim Keer did 5K for the Lillie Virtual parkrun, then added another 9 miles to contribute to our total for College Park Virtual parkrun

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Meridith visited Lisa on her runmary-chris-anderson_web

Mary and Chris on their virtual parkrun in Bowie, MD

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Amanda Mercer added a few miles in College Parkellen-oberholtzer-eli-milo_web

Barkrunners Eli and Milo contributed 5K and 2K, respectively, together with Ellen Oberholtzeer

 

parkrunning Across America (Virtual parkrun Report 4)

Memorial Day weekend is when we’re often thinking about plans for summer travel, and College Park is going into its quieter summer phase. This year - not so much. Travel isn’t happening. College Park has been a bit of a ghost town, with UMD and many businesses closed. And you could be forgiven for forgetting that it’s a holiday weekend. So what better time for some virtual tourism. Hence our “parkrun across America” challenge.

We covered 1,355 miles together in our first three CP virtual parkruns. If we started at Crissy Field parkrun by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, that would put us a little to the east of the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado. Great progress, but still a long way from home. So we wondered whether the community could rise to the challenge of completing the distance to College Park by the end of May. Two Saturdays, about 1,450 miles to cover. A big ask. Could we do it? It was going to take more miles, and more parkrunners.

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Not a lot of travel this summer. Fortunately, there are beautiful places to go close to home.

Well, we’re making really good progress, covering a little under half the distance home to College Park. As results poured in over the course of the day we followed our progress …

9:00 AM: 100km done, North Platte, NE. Home of the world’s largest railyard, apparently

12:30 PM: 400km done, Lincoln, NE. Go Cornhuskers! Home of the University of Nebraska, our Big 10 rival. They may be better in football, but we have the edge in Quidditch.

3:00 PM: 700km done, Des Moines, IA.

4:00 PM: 800km done, Grinnell, IA. Home of Grinnell College (at least one of this week’s virtual parkrunners is a Grinnell alum - Go Pioneers!).

7:00 PM: 1000km done. Crossing the Mississippi from Davenport, IA into Illinois.

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This week's journey!

By the time the virtual parkrun finished at 8:00pm, you had covered 1,155km, around 720 miles. Remarkably, this makes for a perfect spot to “camp”, as it’s almost right on top of Ottawa, IL, home of Heritage Harbor parkrun. HH parkrun follows a course around the perimeter of a pretty harbor, just off the Illinois River. They were due to celebrate their 3rd birthday in mid June. As far as we know, only a handful of CP parkrunners have visited HH parkrun. The Ridge family visited in August 2018, and Stewart Mayhew joined them for a rather snowy parkrun in January 2020. HH’s most famous parkrunner is a man by the name of Juan Leg. You really should read his story: Letting go of my crutch.

One reason why HH parkrun is a perfect spot for our virtual camp: their post-parkrun coffee spot is a bar and grill with a lovely veranda that’s RIGHT by their start/finish area. What’s not to like!

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Clark and Violet and family visited Heritage Harbor parkrun in Summer 2018

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The weather was a bit colder when Stewart Mayhew visited in January 2020

Vital Statistics

It was by far our busiest week of virtual parkrunning yet.

  • 179 participants
  • 720 miles / 1,155 km covered
  • 54 first-timers
  • 10 barkrunners
  • Ages: -1 week to 85 years

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S RESULTS TABLE HERE

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Neil, Julie, Trista, and Dottie did a walk on Kent Island

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Malik and Colin passed each other on the trail

Anniversaries

How times change! It’s really interesting to look back at what was happening on this same weekend in the past few years.

In 2016 on this weekend we were not yet an official parkrun event. We had been holding super low-key meetups at Acredale Park since January. This weekend was super wet, and we had a grand total of five pre-parkrunners: Kim, Nick, Chris, Sam, and Colin. Sam had a broken arm, so he came with a carefully wrapped cast on his arm.

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In 2017 on this weekend, things were a little different. We hosted a visit by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who founded parkrun near his home in London for a handful of friends back in 2004. We had a big record turnout of 180 finishers, with so many first-timers and visitors from near and far.

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Yes, that's Colin wearing a GoPro on his head while stalking parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. 

That day also saw the official naming of Hump’s Crossing. Hump had been volunteering with us almost every week for our first 7 months. So we surprised him with a sign, delivered by mayor Patrick Wojahn as he zoomed by at the start of the event.

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First-timers from that day included Meridith and Abigail Phillips, who took part this week. Twice, in Meridith’s case!

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First-timers from that day also included Pam Marcus, who went on to found Kensington parkrun. And Greg Gorman, who is now Pam’s co-event director at Kensington. And Tom and Genevieve Hornik, who now help to lead Leakin Park parkrun. And there was a send-off award for Cathryn Burby, who was about to relocate to Seattle, where she helped to launch Renton parkrun, the start of a cluster of events in the Seattle area.

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Pam and Greg had no idea what they were getting themselves into

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Tom and Genevieve were looking forward to having a parkrun closer to home in West Baltimore

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Cathryn was about to move to Seattle, where she co-leads Renton parkrun. This Saturday her mom Joan joined us from CT for her 4th CPVp, and shared that it was Cathryn's birthday. Happy birthday, Cathryn!

And that day’s volunteer crew included Joyce Adams, who went on to become event director at Roosevelt Island parkrun. And Iwao Ogihara, who helped to launch parkrun in Japan.

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Elite volunteer crew!

On this weekend in 2018 a crew met up early for a rather muddy effort to clean up trash from the stream. And we welcomed Laurel-native Julie Messina, who was one of the pioneers of parkrun in the US, starting Durham NC parkrun way back in 2013.

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Laurel, MD native Julie Messina is about to celebrate the 7th birthday of Durham, NC parkrun. She was one of the first to bring parkrun to the US, years ahead of most other events.

And on this weekend in 2019 it was a spectacular day to celebrate Carlos Gough’s 50th parkrun … with cake, of course … and to give a sendoff to Ben and Meghan Gieske as they headed off to new adventures in Indiana.

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Toddling and waddling, and strolling

Virtual parkruns are all about getting active with your two legs (or four), at whatever pace works for you. And however far works for you, too.

Fiona Lemon rode in the stroller while mom Michelle and dad Luther did their virtual parkruns. This inspired her to get out of the stroller and do a half mile herself. Perfect!

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When your parents inspire you to get running!

Rachel Unger again got out for a parkwaddle, together with husband Jeff and barkrunner Scooter. This time their route took them to the vets, for Scooter to get a check up ahead of the arrival of his new sibling. Rachel is now *39-weeks* pregnant! We’re on the edge of our seats. Good luck, Rachel and family!

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Rachel's parkwaddle at 39 weeks pregnant

Jenn Augsburger took a parkstroll, combined with a bit of birding. She said, “Can you tell which was the mile when I stopped to take ALL the pictures?”

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It’s all downhill from here!

No big surprise that Clark Ridge was this week’s fastest finisher, in a speedy 17:59. But Clark confessed that his 5K was on a bit of a downhill route.

Well, it turns out that Clark’s little down slope was nothing. Our virtual parkrun format allows for a lot of creativity in route selection. Simon Wraight, joining us from Concord, NH, ran faster than in ALL of his previous 111 official parkruns, with a 19:06 time. That may have been related to finding a route with a 400-foot drop over the 3 miles. Simon mentioned that his family made a cheering station for him outside their house, at the halfway point. (Fun fact; Simon first joined us at CP parkrun on, yes, this weekend in 2017.)

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But Simon’s downhill course was nothing on the one that Cindy Cohen found, running in Sandpoint, ID. Cindy’s zig-zag route took her down a mountain path, and netted her fastest parkrun time in two years. The drop over the 5K: 900 feet!

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Unfair? Cheating? Heck no! CPVp is not a race, and we just love the creativity!

Extra credit

Although we only report 5K equivalent paces in our results table, the clever spreadsheets that Tara Mease set up for our virtual parkruns keep track of all your distances. And we’re using those to track our parkrun Across America challenge. So hats off to some of the many folks who put in some extra miles of walking or running to help us along the way.

Tara and Xander did an early morning *8*-miler to get things going. Nice running, guys!

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Josh Weiss ran 7 miles. Then when his wife Lara Pagano decided to do a 5K virtual parkrun (*after* a 1-hour bike ride), he tagged along to add some more miles.

Misha Bernard and Maia Swisdak got in an early evening birding walk to add some miles. And Andrea Zukowski added some dusk birding miles to combine with her morning 5K run.

Meridith Phillips headed out for an early evening walk with daughter Abigail, to go with her morning run. Then, upon learning that we were within sight of the Mississippi on our virtual quest, she offered to head out for a THIRD time to add some miles!

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David Lai may have put in the longest pull of the day, covering 16 miles on a bit of a warm day.

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David's long run also covered the hoped-for course of the new Glen Burnie parkrun

First-timers

We love welcoming newcomers to CP Virtual parkrun. And there were SO MANY this week, over 50 at last count.

Jane Kushner Hopkins shared that her walk was the furthest she had walked this year. Nice!

Sarah Cunanan joined her first CPVp, and was excited to learn that our 4pm update had us in Grinnell, IA. Sarah is a proud Grinnell College grad.

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Go Pioneers! Grinnell College in Iowa. Looks pretty!

Sharyn Gordon and her grandson Julian got out for a walk together and added, “Thanks for keeping us moving forward!”

Dominique Lisiero put in a few miles pushing the stroller, which must be extra challenging on the hills.

Luke Reuter of University Park, aged 9, took part for the first time, covering about a mile. His dad Jeremy shared that Luke is making it a little further each time. Fantastic!

And Andrea Z. did a LOT of recruiting this week, via Facebook, via email, and seemingly via any random person she passed in the street. (Ok, we’re exaggerating slightly, but only slightly.) Crystal Bergemann, Vera and Bob Wiest, Sarah Treado, Kate Kennedy, Bill Bystricky (and barkrunner Seneca), Shevaun Lewis (and barkrunner Jasper), Laurie Goodfriend, Jeff Lidz, Liina Pylkkänen, and Pam Diamond were among the many who she ensnared.

This is one thing we’ve learned from the virtual parkruns so far. The best way of supporting each other to stay active is through all of our friends and family encouraging one another.

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Virtual Tourists

We really miss meeting up with people on the trail on Saturday mornings. We really do. But one thing that we’re going to miss when things return to normal is the way that we’re connecting now with friends in far away places.

This week we had participants from FIVE continents. The fastest female time came from Michelle Barnes, running near home in Newcastle, Australia. Michelle and family visited us in College Park on a rainy morning in January, on one of the days when we had to use our multi-lap route due to trail flooding. Michelle’s 20:25 time was faster than she has ever run in a parkrun, so two thumbs up for that!

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The Barnes family when they visited us in January 2020

Susan Crammond joined from Greystones, IRELAND, where she also bested her fastest ever parkrun time. Susan was a part of the Fletcher’s Cove parkrun team in DC and often visited Kensington parkrun before moving back to Ireland last year. Guess which day was the one time she came to CP in person? Yup, this weekend 3 years ago, like so many others.

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Stefano Gazzano has never been to College Park, but he’s now a regular at CPVp. We’re enjoying his post-lockdown journey. This week he was in Capodimonte, an ancient Etruscan village by Lake Bolsena. So beautiful! And it’s the closest to actual European tourism that we’re likely to get this summer.

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We’ve enjoyed welcoming faraway friends to our live briefings and coffee chats. This week Robin Phillips (Colin’s brother) joined Andrea’s briefing from Bristol, UK. And Lois Zukowski (Andrea’s mom) joined the coffee chat as she set out on her walk in Michigan. So we got to introduce family to parkrun friends.

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Can you spot the brothers in this picture?

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Kazuko Yatsushiro has completed EVERY CPVp so far from her home in Berlin. This week she recruited her daughters Mika and Lina to join her for a 5K. And she shared an important detail of their route. On the College Park parkrun route the attraction at the halfway point is visiting Lisa. Turns out that the halfway point of Kazuko, Lina, and Mika’s route just happens to be at an ice cream shop. Now we’re talking!

We were thrilled to welcome virtual parkrunners this week from so many different US parkruns.

Janet Grudzien John is a regular at Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston. She joined us from a windswept beach near her home in Newport, RI.

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Kristin Sturgill and Kerline Lorantin are two of the key people behind Mountain Goat Trail parkrun, in tiny Sewanee, TN. Two years ago Andrea was visiting them for their launch, and we had a sign at CP to welcome them to the parkrun USA family. So they should have been celebrating their birthday right now. If you’re ever in that part of the world, you really should visit them. Small, but perfectly formed.

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Karen Crane and Maleta Ann Robinson of Mansfield parkrun in central Ohio got in on the action this week. Our virtual parkrun across America will pass very close to Mansfield next week. Karen and her husband Steve have visited CP a few times … including on this weekend in 2017, like so many others.

And many more besides. By our estimate, we had friends from about a dozen US parkruns join us this week.

Grumpy Unicorn

This one deserves a section all of its own. Vivienne and Autumn Miller did a virtual parkrun together in Ellicott City. Their route looks a bit complicated, until you realize that it’s pure genius Strava art. We especially like the clever use of a small rotary to draw the eye. They call it “Grumpy Unicorn”. So fitting!

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Nice work, Vivienne and Autumn!

Virtual Volunteers

We couldn’t do these virtual parkruns without virtual volunteers.

The parkrun Across America challenge would not be possible without the spreadsheet wizardry of Tara Mease, who has made it easy to keep track of who has done what how many times and where. The big Google Sheet that she has been developing week by week would be a thing of beauty for some of you, and an abomination for others. We kind of like it. :)

Trace Huard joined the results team as a virtual volunteer this week, and enjoyed learning about how the sausage is made.

Rebecca White and Lori Dominick were our unofficial tailwalking crew this week. They got to cheer a few parkrunners who they saw along the trail. And they joined the mid-morning coffee chat live from the trail. So we got to enjoy views of our favorite trail as we enjoyed coffee and company from our living rooms and basements.

Andrea and Colin did the Stuff That They Do. And they’re loving seeing the community come together while we’re all apart. Andrea said, “It’s starting to feel like Saturday again!”

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Colin passed the tailwalkers TWICE on his virtual parkrun

One more thing

Our friends at the College Park City University Partnership are surveying the community about plans for future improvements to our favorite trail, especially the section between Acredale Park and The Board and Brew. It’s called the Paint Branch Riverwalk Project. Please take a couple of minutes to fill out their survey. Thank you!

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Next week …

Our mission is simple. We’re virtually camped at Heritage Harbor parkrun in Ottawa, IL. And it’s around 800 miles to get back home to College Park. Can we do it? It’ll be a stretch, but with your help we can get there.

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Our target for next week! Can you help?

See you then!

CP Virtual parkrun Crew

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25km contributed by Team Schneider. Joshua did an extra 5K to cover for James

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Valerie Silensky found this boundary stone on the DC line

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Warm run for Patrick Wojahn

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Nick Huang, one of the founding team of CP parkrun, took part from his home in Windsor, CT

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A deer nursing a fawn, seen on John Ramsey's virtual parkrun

 

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Kalonji visited Hump on his virtual parkrun

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And it's Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to all those who this day is about. Including all those who are on the front lines of helping us through the current health crisis

 

 

Do you see what I see? (Virtual parkrun Report 3)

One of the surprises about spending so much time at home during the pandemic is all the things that we have been discovering close to home. Normally we’re on the go all the time and we get to explore the WORLD. Now that our physical world has shrunk, we hear from so many people who are discovering cool things close to home.

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of hurting happening right now. But there’s also a whole lot of creativity to be found right now. Members of our CP parkrun community discovered some of these this weekend.

But first, the tl;dr …

  • We finally had nice late spring weather. Temps reached the 80s, but a fresh breeze instead of the summer soupy humidity
  • 132 took part this week, at last count, including 20 first-time virtual parkrunners!
  • It was a nail biter in the “mayoral race”. You’ll just have to read on to find out more …

AND THIS WEEK'S RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE

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It was such a nice day that David Lai decided to throw in an extra 10 miles!

Seen along the trails

We love, love, love our regular Paint Branch Trail. But we’ve run and walked it so many times (about 19,000, since you’re asking) that we have a good idea of what we’ll see along the trail on a “normal” Saturday morning. In a virtual parkrun, there are a lot more surprises. And stopping to enjoy them is totally fine.

Valerie Silensky took a break from her 5K to enjoy a front porch cello performance in her neighborhood. Professional cellist Jodi Beder has been holding daily half-hour performances, supporting her neighbors and people who view the live stream from around the world. The Hyattsville Wire had a good story recently about Jodi’s performances.

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Race past on your 5K, or stop to listen to the outdoor cello concert. No contest!

When Jen Matis set out on the Paint Branch Trail at 6:45am she wasn’t expecting to encounter too many people, but was surprised to see a few birders out. Misha Bernard explained to us what was going on. The Maryland-DC Audubon Society organized a 24-hour Backyard Birdathon, kind of like the human census (have you filled out yours yet?), but for birds. Misha and her daughter Maia combined their parkwalk this week with some birding up and down College Park. Great idea!

Colin Phillips took a very tentative jog around his neighborhood in University Park, testing the progress of a foot injury. (Verdict: hung jury.) His route briefly took him into the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

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Dave and Alyssa Heintzelman got in a few miles near Lake Artemesia, and reported that “We also managed to save a baby turtle along the way!”

Most of these would not have happened at a regular parkrun. Though we have had some baby animal rescuing in the past.

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Do you recognize the spot on the Paint Branch Trail where John Ramsey saw these turtles?

When they go low, we go high

(h/t Michelle Obama for that one)

We again had a full range of ages in action this week.

Lois Zukowski (Andrea’s mom, age 85) did a walk near her home in Harrison Twp, MI. She wasn’t sure quite how far she walked, but she wisely quipped: “How far doesn’t matter so much. It’s the getting outside to do it. Maybe next week I can do some more minutes."

Our regular octogenarians Bonnie and Mike McClellan were out on the trail, together with Anna Tinnemore. (Violating social distancing? Nope. Anna lives in their basement.) If you have been on the Paint Branch Trail recently you may have noticed construction just beyond the Tunnel of Trees. This is a project to create a connector trail linking the PBT to the College Park Woods neighborhood. This will soon make it even easier for Bonnie, Mike, and Anna to enjoy the trail.

At the other end of the age scale, Rachel Unger was out again for a “parkwaddle” to Vigilante Coffee, together with husband Jeff and barkrunner Scooter. Rachel is now 38-weeks pregnant! So we wait with bated breath for the week when they check in with four in the family!

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11-year old Violet Ridge is a very seasoned parkrunner. 5K is no problem for her. But this week she shortened her run so that she could join her brother Felix, age 2, for a parktoddle.

Another parktoddler this week was Cora Gerbig, who hopped out of the stroller for a while during a 5K near BWI Airport by mom Jessica Gerbig and granddad Gus Campbell. Gus explained that Cora was testing out her new Frozen 2 running shoes. We’re jealous!

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In the spirit of doing your virtual parkrun how you want, where you want, James Schneider decided that toddling would have to wait for another day. He celebrated his FIRST BIRTHDAY by joining the rest of Team Schneider on a 5K walk in Hyattsville. (This week they cut off 15 minutes from their time last week, we hear.) But James opted for the “parknap” option.

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The Mayoral race, and other speediness

We have two speedy mayors in Duane Rosenberg (New Carrollton, 119 parkruns) and Patrick Wojahn (College Park, 94 parkruns). It’s often a toss-up which of them will finish first.

Duane set out early for a 5K around Lake Artemesia, and checked in with a 22:06 clocking. That’s his fastest time since January. Nice! Patrick left it until later in the day to get out, but responded with a characteristic let it rip effort around North College Park. He started with a 7:03 mile, then laid down a storming 6:03 second mile. This could mean that he found a downhill. Or that the GPS signal in north CP was dodgy. Or that his weekend takeouts supporting local businesses are more potent than we realized. But the pace dropped a little in the final mile, bringing Patrick (literally) home in 22:12, allowing wily Duane to edge ahead by just a couple of seconds. Nice effort, gentlemen!

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Patrick finished mere seconds behind Duane this week!

Also at the speedier end of the scale, it’s fun each week to see the times come in over the course of the day, wondering who will be in the “lead” when the 8pm cutoff rolls around.

This week Lokesh Meena laid down a very early marker, running 19:30 in countless laps around his apartment complex in New Delhi, India. We suspect the weather was not ideal for running, and we know that Lokesh ran the 5K wearing a mask, so that is an impressive effort!

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That's speedy at any time. But on a small loop, in New Delhi, wearing a face mask. Wow.

Tomas Marambio set out a little later in the day in College Park. He’s a sub-19 runner when in form, so he could have been a threat. Final time: 20:00.0. A little slower, but so much more aesthetically pleasing!

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Robin Phillips (Colin’s brother) could have been another threat, running in Bristol, UK for his second CP Virtual parkrun. But with a busy schedule of virtual relays, including a fast 5K on Friday and a 10K planned for Sunday, he opted for an steadier 5K. Next week, maybe, Robin?

Katie and Evan Hirsche might have threatened Lokesh’s time when they went out for their run. Katie has been laying down crazy fast times in a series of virtual track races lately. (And dad Evan has been hanging on for dear life.) But they started with Katie doing a 1 mile virtual race on Rock Creek Parkway, in 5-something. And then decided to put in a solid CP parkrun effort right after doing that. So it was 20-something for these two.

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Katie and Evan did a speedy parkrun RIGHT AFTER doing a 1-mile race

Just when we thought Lokesh might maintain his masked lead to the end of the day, Clark Ridge checked in via email with his 19:06 clocking around his neighborhood. No prizes for being fastest at parkrun, of course. But the added intrigue of the virtual format makes it that bit more exciting to follow along.

Meanwhile, you don’t need to be a front of the pack runner to have times to celebrate, if that’s what you’re looking for.

It was only last week that Meridith Phillips was running her fastest ever time on the CP parkrun course. And this week she went and ran a whole minute faster. Nice!

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Another PB for Meridith!

Comebacks from injury kind of let you reset your PBs, too. Gloria Cottman was delighted to run a 5K in under 40 minutes - her best run since she tore her MCL. And Andrea Zukowski set another post-injury PB, taking another minute from her time the week before.

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Comeback kid!

Four legs good, two legs … also good

(h/t George Orwell on that one … dystopic times call for dystopic quotes)

The barkrunners were not missing out on the opportunity to enjoy a run or a walk with their humans.

Heidi joined Susan Whitney on the trail, and may have noticed that it was a little warmer this week.

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Barkrunner Heidi noticed it was warmer this week

For some obscure reason, virtual high school track meets are less chill about canine participants than we are at CP virtual parkrun. So Sophie missed out on Katie and Evan’s speedfest. But it looks like she did pretty nicely anyway, going for a parkhike in the woods with mom Maria.

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Woodland hike for Sophie and Maria

Gifford got out for a run around the Potomac trails in Cabin John, MD with Dan Owen. Dan shared that at some point he just let Gifford do the navigating, and then things went a little off track after that.

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Visiting Relatives

We’re excited that we now have regulars at CP Virtual parkrun who are based far away from College Park.

Cindy Cohen took in another rather hilly looking parkrun in the mountains of Idaho. Check out that elevation profile.

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Kazuko Yatsushiro also sent us a picture from the “mountain” in the middle of her run. In this case it’s the Insulanerberg, a 260-foot high hill in the south of Berlin, Germany, built out of rubble from World War II, now with forested trails and an observatory on the top. In the view from the top that Kazuko sent us, you can make out the big TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, in the center of Berlin. Kazuko is missing her local parkrun in Berlin, Hasenheide parkrun, but is enjoying hanging out with the CP parkrun community in the meantime.

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Do you see the tower at Berlin Alexanderplatz?

Joan Heffernan joined us for the 3rd consecutive week from her home in Suffield, CT. This week Joan squeezed in her run early, ahead of a volunteering shift at a local farm.

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Carlos Chaverri-Morales is another visitor with a perfect attendance record at CP Virtual parkrun, joining us from Cartago, Costa Rica. We always thought of Costa Rica as being, well, coastal. But it turns out that the San Jose area where Carlos is based is at 4,500’ of altitude, with tall volcanoes nearby!

Adrian Dover checked in again from Newent, in Gloucestershire, UK. Adrian’s a regular visitor to College Park. He first joined us on our quietest ever parkrun, on a rainy Christmas Eve in 2016. And that’s a connection to our next tourists …

Steve Feld also did his first CP parkrun on 12/24/16. Now he and wife Cindy are regulars at Durham, NC parkrun, where there’s an emerging satellite CP Virtual parkrun happening on Saturdays! This week Steve and Cindy were joined by Durham, NC parkrun regulars Dave Menusan and Faith Hays, who happen to also be Marylanders.

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The North Carolina branch of College Park parkrun: Steve, Dave, Faith, and Cindy

And our biggest contingent of visitors this week are really local family. The folks at Roosevelt Island parkrun in DC decided to “join” us this week, so we had a few Islanders in the mix. Joyce Adams got in another treadmill parkrun, appreciating the fact that for a virtual parkrun you can finish reading your book with your cat before starting your run. Anna Weber got in a walk in Arlington, VA. And Eden Gray and barkrunner Foxy did a half parkrun at Sippo Lake in Canton, OH, with lots of sniffing involved, no doubt.

The tie-in with RI parkrun also brought us international tourists! Normally most of the international parkrun visitors to DC head straight to Roosevelt Island. It’s why we see so few international visitors at CP. But this week we had visitors who heard about us via RI. This includes Derry Jarvis, from Horsham, south of London. Derry is not infrequently in DC for work, and has visited RI before. We now look forward to welcoming him to CP at some point in the future.

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Emma Keer ran 7 miles in Ann Arbor, MI. So she figured that should count for her local Lillie Virtual parkrun AND for College Park Virtual parkrun AND for a nice smoothie!

Miscellaneous Highlights

Joe Fox scores extra points this week for his creative plan for his virtual parkrun intervals. “I "did a fartlek for the length of "I love LA" by Randy Newman"”. Can’t argue with that. (Want to try it for your own intervals? You’re welcome.)

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Erin Munsell was SO close to completing her 100th parkrun before the shutdown. With 98 regular parkruns and now with 2 virtual parkruns under her belt, we think she at least deserves some virtual cake. We can’t wait to celebrate when she reaches the official 100 after we return to normal.

Kalonji Collins took a break from treadmill running to run on the Paint Branch Trail again. Kalonji’s observation: “Running outside is SO MUCH HARDER than running on the treadmill". Just wait until July, Kalonji!

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Lisa Wilson was nowhere to be seen on the trail this weekend … well, aside from the virtual Lisa that Elmer Hernandez got to visit on his run. Lisa was up in Howard County (no longer under a stay-at-home order) teaching an outdoor yoga class, with social distancing, of course. Then she got in a nice parkwalk for good measure.

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Vital Statistics

The counts are always a bit iffy (and evolving!), but at the time of writing there have been exactly 130 participants all 3 weeks of CP Virtual parkrun. That’s consistency! [Ok, since writing this, we found 2 more results. Oh well!]

Around 65 have completed all 3 CPVps. That’s also consistency!

And we had 20 first-time virtual parkrunners this week. This included welcoming regular parkrunners Joel Goldberg and Dale Morey to the online community. It also included Anne-Marie and Michael Gorman from Hyattsville. And Louise Godley and Samatha Ager in Takoma Park. Welcome all!

To date, 205 unique participants have completed CP Virtual parkruns 390 times, covering around 1,400 miles. That’s roughly the distance from College Park to Denver.

NOTE FOR STRAVA USERS. We found that some people joined our Strava Club and they’re recording virtual parkruns, but we’re missing them in the results. That seems to happen when you have your Strava privacy settings configured so that we cannot see your activities. You can fiddle with those settings … or just send us an email and we’ll update our records.

Virtual Volunteers

Virtual parkruns need volunteers, too. Please let us know if you can help out in a future week. Drop an email to collegepark@parkrun.com. At a virtual parkrun you don’t need to choose between volunteering and walking or running. You can have it all!

This week Stewart Mayhew stepped up to give the pre-event briefing on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Tara Mease was results coordinator -- getting us more organized from one week to the next -- and this week she was supported by Diana Gough, Anna Tinnemore, and Andrea Zukokwski.

Colin Phillips held the fort in the Storytelling Department.

And although we didn’t have official unofficial tailwalkers this week, we’ll bestow that role after the fact on Rachel, Jeff, and Scooter. Walking 5K while 38 weeks pregnant in 1h45 is darn good going. And it might even encourage a baby to be born.

Thanks to all of the volunteers!

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Got coffee? Join us at the Virtual parkrun coffee chat, Saturdays at 10:30am

Looking Ahead

We don’t know how long we’ll remain in virtual mode, but we expect it to be a long while. We don’t expect to be able to resume regular parkruns until all outdoor distancing regulations are removed. And that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. The rate of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Maryland is slowing, but only VERY slightly. And Prince George’s County is taking an appropriately cautious approach to its reopening plans.

In the meantime, it’s all the more important to stay active, and to support each other in doing that. It’s great for our physical and mental health. So we’ll keep on doing what we’re doing. And we thank you for all that YOU are doing to encourage friends and family members to be active, too.

Till next week!

 frank-snyder_webFrank Snyder has taken part in every CP Virtual parkrun so far, running around the retirement community in Gaithersburg where he lives.

 

 

Good Luck Comes in Fours (Virtual parkrun Report 2)

They say that bad luck comes in threes. So this week we’re declaring that good luck comes in fours. We know that times are hard for so many people right now, but we’re happy to share so much positivity that was in evidence this weekend.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this week’s CP Virtual parkrun #2. Whether you ran or walked, indoors or out, on a treadmill, in a parking lot, on a trail, in other time zones or other countries, as part of a virtual race, with friends, with family, or on your own, it is great to read about your accomplishments, either through Strava, email, or Facebook.  HIGH FIVES (virtually) all around!

Despite the coldest May day in at least a dozen years, we were thrilled to see another big and diverse crowd join us, with 130 participants at last count - exactly the same as last week.

We were also super happy to see the breadth of participation, from speedsters to very pregnant “parkwaddles”, and with ages from a few months to eighty-something years. And it was great to be joined by friends from near and far, helping us to connect with folks who could no longer join us in person.

YOU CAN FIND THIS WEEK’S FULL RESULTS HERE

But the stories are more interesting. Here are just a few of this week’s stories.

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Four Years

Mary Clare Schneider has long been looking forward to turning four years old and being able to get her very own barcode. The birthday came during the week, and by the next day, there she was in the parkrun database … but with no official parkrun to take part in.

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No problem, thanks to mom Erin and lots of parkrun friends, it became a special day.

Erin wrote: “Mary Clare had a great birthday parkrun!! Team Schneider did the whole 5k in 1:27. Mary Clare was reluctant to get going because it was so cold, but after some "fuel" and seeing some parkrun friends she started to warm up! When she saw Lisa at the turn around she took off running!! She had to show off her pink barcode which was graciously "scanned" for her post run. She was excited to get a certificate, and see her name on the trail. And she talked to the people in the Zoom cheering section as if it was live!! Thank you everyone for your help!”

We just love the community support, and how parents Erin and Joshua are fostering a love of outdoor exercise in their family.

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Four Generations

At CP Virtual parkrun you can take part where you want, and go as far as you want. Great news for Xander Mease, who had four generations of his family taking part this week.

Xander took an early morning run with mom Tara. Dad Jon took a walk later in the day.

Grandma Janet was working as a nursing supervisor, but put on her tracker as she worked. Her Strava art is, um, interesting. And we think the time is maybe a little optimistic. But we’re sure that the 5K is legit.

Meanwhile great grandma Ellie, aged 86, put in a mile on her treadmill, to complete the family collection. Wonderful!

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Four Legs

Plenty of barkrunners got in on the action.

Ranger took to the trail with Cameron McPhee. He is quickly growing up!

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Shackleton made it to the pre-parkrun briefing this week, and then was seen racing down the trail soon afterwards.

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Barkrunner Gifford is a regular fixture at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun downtown. This week he did our virtual barkrun together with his humans Dan and Zak Owen. Dan reports that Gifford edged ahead of him at the finish, thanks to motivation from a squirrel.

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Tuffi got out for a walk with Gloria Cottman, and looks pretty happy to be out on the trail again.

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Four Babies (give or take)

We were super happy to hear from Meghan and Ben Gieske, regular parkrunners who moved back to Indiana last summer. Turns out they have a new member of the family. Blaise is around 5 months old now, and she got out for a run-walk with mom and dad. Meghan wrote:

“Greetings from the Midwest! Missing all of you in Maryland! Thank you so much for organizing this! Ben and I had our first child right before Thanksgiving. I managed to keep running (well, jogging anyway) until 35 weeks pregnant, but I’ve had a hard time finding motivation to get back out there, so this was really great! We managed to do a full 5k. I’m certain it was a personal slowest for me, and possibly for Ben too (we only ran about a quarter of the distance and walked the rest). Blaise’s face looks about how I felt.”

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Rachel Unger sent us pictures from her “parkwaddle”. She’s 37-weeks pregnant, and moving a little slower than at her last parkrun. She and Jeff and barkrunner Scooter took a steady paced 5K walk to recently reopened Vigilante Coffee in College Park. It took “about an hour and a half”. Great job, Rachel, and we can’t wait to meet the new member of the family some time!

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Kate and Matt Perkins got out for a run with the double stroller in Rock Creek Park. For Kate it was her first 5K in a while. Congratulations, Kate!

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Four Continents

It was cool to have friends join us from far away again this week.

Carlos Chaverri-Morales made this cool sign for us in Costa Rica.

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Lokesh Meena joined us from New Delhi, India, where he ran a LOT of laps of a ~0.5 km loop near his home, making for an impressive Strava track. Lokesh was a regular at local parkruns during his time working for the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. If you haven’t read about Lokesh’s own story, it’s well worth a look.

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Stefano Gazzano checked in from Citavecchia, near Rome, Italy. Italy faced a much stricter lockdown than we have had in Maryland, so he’s easing back into the outdoor running.

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Regular CP parkrun visitor Adrian Dover sent us a picture from his virtual parkrun in Newent, Gloucestershire, UK. The locals may have been surprised by his brightly colored socks. But we all know exactly what they mean!

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And we welcomed a special first-time virtual parkrunner from Bristol, UK. Robin Phillips (Colin’s brother) was the person who planted the parkrun seed in Andrea’s mind back in 2014. By now he has done 319 parkruns in 60 different locations. But he has never visited CP parkrun in person. So the next best thing was to do CP Virtual parkrun, starting at his front door. Robin put down a speedy 19:05. That might have been good for our fastest time of the day. But then Sam Phipps came out and turned on the gas … so never mind. Welcome Robin!

Within the US, regular CP parkrunner Cindy Cohen is currently based at a ski resort in Idaho, where she took on what must be one of the toughest parkrun courses that we have seen. She ran two miles down the mountain, and then two miles back up. Here’s the elevation profile for the first 5K of this. The current hilliest parkrun route in the US is at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller parkrun in Woodstock, VT, which climbs 360 feet in the first mile. Cindy’s run looks even hillier!

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A couple of parkrunners joined us from Michigan, where Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor was launching their virtual parkrun this week, following a similar approach to ours. Emma Keer had joined us at CP parkrun on New Years Day 2020, and her dad Tim Keer had joined us in late 2018. Welcome “back”, Emma & Tim!

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Running and Walking FOR a Cause

Jackie and Kayla Hayes were due to take part in the National Police Week 5K. It turned into a virtual event, but with real race bibs. So they headed out into their neighborhood to do the race, and it counted for CP Virtual parkrun also. A few other runners with those bibs were spotted around College Park, too.

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Others were part of the movement to honor the memory of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American who was shot while running near his home in Georgia on February 23rd. A number of virtual parkruns included a 2.23 mile section and/or the tag #irunwithahmaud. Among those was College Park mayor Patrick Wojahn, who was joining us for his first virtual parkrun.

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Tailwalking crew members Lori Dominick and Rebecca White took along a grabber and a trash bag, to clean up the Paint Branch Trail as they walked. Thank you! They were pleasantly surprised to find little trash along the way. That’s thanks in part to responsible trail users. And also to helpful parkrunners. Lisa Wilson has been doing some trail maintenance during the pandemic. And we recently found the Heintzelman family working on clearing trash from the Acredale Park parking lot.

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Four Kinds of Volunteers

CP parkrun is 100% volunteer-led, and hundreds have helped out over the past few years. It’s no different for CP Virtual parkrun, except that the roles are a little different, where most of the action is in connecting with, tracking, and supporting people online.

This week Andrea and Colin hosted the 9am briefing. We’d love to bring in a new briefing host next week. Let us know if this could be you!

The biggest role is collecting results and stories, and engaging with virtual parkrunners who reach us through various channels. Tara Mease has spearheaded results coordination (spreadsheets!). This week her support team was Jen Matis, Anna Tinnemore, Teresa Bippus, together with Colin and Andrea. And Colin teamed up with Lori on storytelling.

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We can have as many virtual tailwalkers as we want in the virtual format. The more the merrier. Your job is simply to walk and to tell us about it. This week Lori Dominick and Rebecca White were joined by a highly inexperienced tailwalker. Colin has never walked a parkrun before, but he’s now on the injured list. So he walked a 5K around his neighborhood, stopping to take a picture by a park bench dedicated to Muppets creator Jim Henson, who grew up in the neighborhood. The message on the bench is oddly appropriate.

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Not FORgetting …

It was cold for May! Like some of us, Valerie Silensky wasn’t going to venture out because of the wind and cold, but the sunshine was so glorious, she’s glad she did!  John Ramsey never thought he’d be wearing a hat, gloves, pants and long sleeves in May. Zak Mellen reported that he didn’t see any other people (or bunnies for that matter). Josh Weiss got through the wind and cold by pretending that every person out there was a parkrunner cheering him on. Jen Matis thinks the cold may have helped her shave a few minutes off last week's time.

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Meridith Phillips was excited by her all-time parkrun PB! She ran the regular trail, and was happy to see some familiar faces along the way.

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Zoe Phillips (no relation to Meridith) volunteers almost every week at CP parkrun, but hasn’t completed a 5K since last fall. So he was happy to get out for a 5K walk this weekend. And he was greeted by a surprise when he got home. A care package from his school, including a yard sign. This year’s 12th graders won’t have regular graduation celebrations, so local schools are finding creative ways of celebrating their seniors. Congratulations, Zoe!

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And we’re happy that many parkrunners are supporting local businesses that are struggling during the pandemic. Vigilante Coffee is a supporter of CP parkrun, and they make fabulous coffee. (Andrea also swears by their acai bowls. Just saying.) Vigilante recently opened for curbside pickup at their College Park location, and we’re happy to see that more parkrunners are combining a run or walk on the local trails with a nice cup of coffee from Vigilante. We had a few on display at the mid-morning online meetup this week.

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We’re also looking to support our friends at The Board and Brew, who are closed right now. Gift cards are available here.

The New Normal

We’re looking forward to getting back to our regular parkruns. But we don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. The State of Maryland has outlined a sensible, cautious plan for reopening, and we are in the middle of the epicenter for COVID-19 cases for the state. Also, parkrun HQ has made it clear that they are not going to hurry. Their position is: if special measures are needed, then it’s not yet safe to go ahead.

So for now we’ll do our best as a community to help each other stay active and connected.

We have been very happy to see so many taking part. We have enjoyed seeing friends on the live chats. We have LOVED hearing stories from folks near and far. We’re glad that we’re able to reach beyond the social media bubble. But we also know that there are lots of people who we’re unable to reach. So we’d love to hear from you about your ideas for how we could help to support more people as part of our healthy community. Right now we all need this more than ever.

Until next week!

Colin and Lori

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Susan Crammond joined from Greystones, Ireland, where it was a bit warmer than in College Park.

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Sharlene Deskins did her first CP Virtual parkrun!

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Violet and Clark Ridge first ran a 5K together. Then Clark went straight out to do another. Maybe that's why he looks a little tired!

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Perfect day for a fleece mask. Misha, Marc, and Maia took a 5 mile walk together

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Mike McClellan got in a couple of miles on the trail. Nice!

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Melanie Barzik and Matthias Machner incorporated CP Virtual parkrun into a 14-mile run together by Rock Creek. Pretty!

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Special guest appearances for Mary Clare's first parkrun with her new barcode.

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Lucy & Laurie in matching outfits

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Joyce completed 5K on her treadmill. (And we like that London Marathon map in the background, Joyce!)

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John Maneval on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail. John, Jessica, and Mark are still looking to bring a parkrun to the B&A Trail in Anne Arundel County.

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Nice day for a virtual parkrun for Frank Snyder

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Steve and Cindy Feld representing CP parkrun in Durham, NC

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We think that's Anna and Bonnie behind those masks

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Andrea ran her fastest 5K in a while, and then got to work with her camera.

 

Bringing us a little closer together (Virtual parkrun 1 Report)

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 nearly *two months* since we last came together on the Paint Branch Trail on a Saturday morning. The CP parkrun team met this week -- on Zoom, of course -- to brainstorm ideas to keep supporting our healthy community. From this came the plans for an experiment: College Park Virtual parkrun. We would try this on Saturday May 2nd, and see how it goes.

Well, one thing certainly could NOT have gone better: it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY for a parkrun! It was one of those days when you’re just itching to get outside.

Also, we were blown away by the number of people who wanted to get involved, and who shared their experiences with us. Around 130 took part. Not bad for something that had been announced less than 48 hours earlier.

It’s not all about the times, but here’s our first attempt at a RESULTS TABLE.

A couple of things that we're excited about in those results:

  • Our highest proportion of walkers yet. It really was about getting active outdoors. No hurry.
  • But the fastest time was a world class run by a member of our local parkrun community.
  • So many people taking part from so many places!

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Early Birds

Some people got an early start to today’s parkrun.

Steve Hendrix, a regular CP parkrunner whose work for the Washington Post has him living in Israel these days, ran at 9am in Jerusalem, i.e., 2am US EDT. Andrea shared this great message from Steve at the 9am briefing:

“Thanks for the virtual 5K parkrun friends!

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

Also, I forgot my barcode. So a very authentic experience!

I miss parkrun. Be well and run safe wherever you run.”

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Tara & Xander Mease set out at 6:30am for their regular 10K run -- remember that a 5K parkrun is 7-year old Xander’s *easy* day -- and were fired up to work on collecting the day’s results.

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Tara’s mom, Janet Tate, got her run in early, before the online briefing. Then while many of us headed out for our exercise, Janet got some much needed sleep. She’s working night shifts as a nurse, and we salute her and other healthcare workers and other essential workers in our community for helping to keep us safe.

Carlos Chaverri-Morales, set out early at 7am. But that was after the online briefing. That’s because Carlos, who completed nearly 50 parkruns in College Park, has been back living in Costa Rica since last summer. For him, the virtual format is a great way to stay connected to his College Park friends.

Stewart Mayhew also set out early. He followed our request to not start the regular parkrun route at 9am. So he snuck in a near PB run at 8:30am, and was back in time to join the online briefing.

Gus Campbell set out from his home in Halethorpe, near BWI Airport. With a parkrun starting right by his door, he was able to get an 8am start time. This is going to be especially valuable once the summer heat picks up.

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9:00 AM Zoom and Facebook Live On-line briefings

About 25 people zoomed in for chit chat in our virtual park at 8:50am. Then around 14 more joined when we also went live on Facebook at 9:00am. By the end of the day over 300 had viewed the briefing video on Facebook. So that may already be a record for a CP parkrun briefing.

Andrea held the briefing from her front stoop. No bullhorn needed for this one, so a bit more intimate than usual. The parkrun flag stood proudly in her front yard. Andrea gave announcements, thanked the virtual volunteers, reminded us to stay safe, to follow social distancing rules, and to join us for the coffee chat at 10:30am. (Meanwhile, Colin was elsewhere in the house, sweating bullets as he tried to get the tech to work. Maybe a bullhorn is easier.)

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It was great to see some visitors from near and far at the briefing. We had friends visiting from NC, TN, and CT in the US, and from Costa Rica and Germany internationally. Andrea was thrilled to see Meredith Hale, co-Event Director at Third Creek Greenway parkrun in Knoxville, TN. Andrea helped TCG parkrun to get off the ground in 2019. Joining from Germany  was Chris Roth, our April parkrunner of the month, was “visiting” from his hometown of Ravensburg, Germany. Also joining from Germany was Kazuko Yatsushiro, an old friend of Colin & Andrea who is part of the team behind Hasenheide parkrun in Berlin.

Seeing so many people either getting ready to run or reporting that they already completed their run was great motivation to get out there and run! Or walk!

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9:10 Virtual Run/Walk Time!

For those parkrunners who were in College Park at parkrun o’clock, there was a good chance of passing other parkrunners on your virtual parkrun.

Andrea dashed off right after completing the briefing. (One benefit of the virtual format is that the day’s run director can get out for a run too.) Andrea ran her fastest 5K in a while. AND she ran into Dave and Alyssa Heintzelman, at a safe distance of course. Joanne Heintzelmann was out there too, somewhere. Kudos to the whole family for getting out.

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Colin’s run took him from home to just beyond Hump’s Crossing. En route he saw parkrunners Judy Mulusa, Wendy Young (in the middle of her 10 mile long run), and Külli Crespin and Teresa Perdomo. Külli and Teresa were so happy to get together after not seeing each other since March that they each covered 14 miles of local trails, running into other parkrunners including Elizabeth Cooper and Rebecca and Joe White.

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Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Yvas ran along the Trolley Trail for the first time, enjoying the beautiful birds along the way.

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Lori Dominick walked 3.1 miles in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. She caught a glimpse of one of the eagles nesting nearby, but did not get a photo.

Jen Matis was looking for places to be as socially isolated as possible, and came up with the good idea of using the parking lots around the FDA and other buildings on River Road. Success!

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You didn’t need to be in College Park to run into other CP parkrunners. Andrea Solan did her virtual parkrun in Ellicott City, where she ran into Kathy Gustafson, who was dressed for the occasion in her CP parkrun apricot shirt. They enjoyed a (socially distanced) chat in the parking lot. Nice!

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Darrell Stanaford, joining from north of Baltimore, reported that it was a “beautiful morning - virtually perfect!”. Darrell is an old friend of CP parkrun, helping us to get started, and leading parkrun USA through a period of rapid growth in 2017-2019.

10:30 am Coffee Chat

It’s not The Board and Brew, but the Zoom coffee chat at least had unlimited seating. It was great to catch up with some parkrunners remotely.

We’re trying to keep supporting local businesses, such as B&B, during the shutdown. You can buy gift cards here.

Speed Demons

We don’t normally make a big deal about the fastest finishers at CP parkrun. But this week we want to make a fuss.

The fastest (not first) finisher at CP Virtual parkrun #1 was Cindy Conant. She completed her 5K in 19:53. She has been hoping to crack 20 minutes again for some time.

CP (non-virtual) parkrun has seen a female first finisher just once before.

Cindy is 59 years old.

The “age-grading” for her 5K time is 94.9%. That’s a record for CP parkrun. By our calculation, only 2 people have ever achieved a higher age-grading at a parkrun USA event.

Wow!

“What about Sam Phipps”, we hear you ask. What of our perennial first finisher? Well, Sam’s virtual parkrun was part of a 10-mile run on the shore. With his time adjusted to the 5K distance, Cindy left Sam in the (virtual) dust today!

Kalonji Collins set an impressive PB. His time of 24:48 is almost TWO MINUTES faster than his PB for the non-virtual parkrun. And he did this running at home on his treadmill!

Age is just a number

By our calculations, today’s participants ranged from 1 to 85 in age.

The youngest participant who used his own two legs may have been James Schneider, youngest member of Team Schneider, who got their family walk in early. James was seen pushing his own stroller, though we suspect that he might not have kept this up the whole way. Another member of Team Schneider who is growing up fast is Mary Clare, who turns 4 this week and will finally be able to get an official parkrun barcode. “No more fake barcode!”, said Mary Clare’s mom Erin.

The oldest participant that we’re aware of is Lois Zukowski, Andrea’s mom, who is 85. She didn’t plan to take part, but she was inspired by watching Andrea’s briefing online and so she set out for a walk from her home in Harrison Twp, MI. “I just kept going. I’m not sure how far it was, but it might have been 3 miles.” That’s good enough for us, Lois!

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Barkrunners

Since you don’t need a parkrun barcode for CP Virtual parkrun, you don’t need to be a human. Good news for our barkrunners, who can get the recognition that they deserve. We heard from a few of our barkrunner friends this week, and they’re included in the results where their names are known. Sorry if we missed you this week!

Angela Gentile wrote: “Shackleton didn't know that there would be announcements at 8:50 and he slept in and did his park run a little bit later but he would definitely join in on announcements another week and try not to bark.”

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He must have put in a good effort, as he was later found napping it off.

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Meanwhile, a long lost barkrunner friend. Scout is back! Scout is one of the original barkrunners of CP parkrun, having completed around 50 parkruns. But we haven’t seen her since last summer when her human Ken Leonard went to Ghana to teach for a year. Well, the pandemic has brought Ken back (though still teaching remotely in Ghana), so Scout has her running buddy back. So she got to visit Lisa at the turnaround for the first time in a while. Well, kind of.

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We found barkrunner Sophie taking a run with the fam on the trails near her home in Chevy Chase. Dad Evan was doing his virtual parkrun as part of a 13-miler. Not sure whether Sophie got to go along for the full ride.

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Choose your time, or place

9am not working for you? Nowhere near College Park? For CP Virtual parkrun that’s not a problem. Spreading ourselves out in time and space is the point.

Elizabeth Cooper went out later in the day, and is working on getting back to where she was in August. You got this, Elizabeth!

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Valerie Silensky had an adventure in her first (not a) parkrun since February, and her first 5K in weeks. 70-something degrees, 4 miles through 4 towns and one trail, one mayor met, and courtesy of said mayor, 1 local history lesson. (The serendipitous result of getting extremely lost in North Brentwood on the way back!)

A few people took part in CP Virtual parkrun on other parkrun courses. Clever!

Carly Mills ran on the old Kensington parkrun course.

Steve and Cindy Feld, former regular runners and volunteers at CP parkrun, did their virtual parkrun on the Third Fork Creek Trail, the venue for Durham, NC parkrun.

Brian Smith incorporated the Anacostia parkrun course into his run.

Eden Gray, Sam Mora, and barkrunner Foxy did their parkwalk on the course of Sippo Lake parkrun in Canton, OH. They took a little extra time, “We had to sniff things out quite a bit along the way!” Understandable.

Shane Sharkey (and infant daughter Eleanor) were special guest “virtual tourists”. Shane is Event Director at Melton Mowbray parkrun in Leicestershire, UK, where they held their 7th virtual parkrun this weekend, with 200+ participants. We took a lot of cues from the model that Shane developed for virtual parkruns, and he was very generous with his advice. Thank you!

Nick Huang, part of the original CP parkrun team, took part in Windsor, CT, where he now lives. He shared via email: “I went on a run early in the morning, before the briefing. Momentarily thought about climbing over a locked, waist-height fence to run on the track at Jessica's school, since no one was around... and thought better of it.”

Rory Murphy, one of our earliest regulars, took part from his current home in Morris Plains, NJ. And he wasn’t the only regular from Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrun who took part. Team Maeder -- that’s Suzanne, Robert, and kids Leo, Zoe, and Lux (age 2) took part from the “middle of nowhere”, NJ. Robert and the kids did a mile-and-a-half walk, while Suzanne did “something more complicated”. Suzanne’s a UMD alum and was Tara Mease’s college roommate, so she has bona fide ties to CP parkrun. Great stuff, Team Maeder!

Volunteers

A virtual parkrun needs volunteers just as much as a regular virtual parkrun. But the roles are a little bit different, and we’re still figuring stuff out. Thanks to all who helped this week!

Andrea and Colin shared the “virtual run director” role. The virtual format calls for a little more tech coordination than usual.

Tara Mease and Anna Tinnemore shared the results processor role. This part is definitely more demanding in the virtual setting -- most results came in through one of three different channels: email, Facebook, or our Strava club. It helps us appreciate the magic of normal results processing.

Lori Dominick and Colin Phillips took on the gathering of stories and pictures. The fun part about the virtual format is that people tell their own stories and send their own pictures, so it’s very much a team effort.

Rebecca and Joe White took on the role of official tailwalkers, but many others stepped up during the day to offer their services retrospectively as tailwalkers. All good! The main aim is to ensure that walking is definitely A Thing at CP Virtual parkrun, and that people don’t feel that they’re gate-crashing an event for speedy runners. It looks like this worked out nicely!

Speaking of walkers, one thing that we don’t really need in the virtual format is course marshals. So what are Lisa and Hump to do? They took walks with their pups on the trail close to home … which happens to be the Paint Branch Trail. Lisa walked the regular course -- we presume she visited the virtual Lisa at the turnaround. And Hump headed in the opposite direction, notching a walk of nearly a mile and a half. Nice!

And big thanks are due to the team of regular CP parkrun volunteers who came together at short notice a few days ago to figure out the details on CP Virtual parkrun. Still a work in progress, but much better off for the team effort.

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Future Weeks?

With the success of this week’s experiment, there’s a good chance that we’ll do this again.

For information on how we roll, and how to join the live online meetups, see our blog:

https://www.parkrun.us/collegepark/news/2020/04/30/introducing-college-park-virtual-parkrun/

To follow along, there are a few ways to ensure that you’re in the loop:

  1. Sign up to our email list, like 1000+ others. Andrea’s once weekly email will tell you all the essentials. Sign in via your parkrun.com profile, following instructions in the blog above.
  2. Join our Strava club, which has 200+ members. You can link a free Strava account to your fitness tracker for automatic uploading. Great way to see how your friends are staying active through the week.
  3. Follow our Facebook page, which has 1200+ followers.

Stay safe out there, everybody!

Lori & Colin

sweets_startline_webDylan and Bill found the parkrun flag on their block!