This week’s title, “niko niko” comes from the Japanese word for “smile”. It’s inspired by all the smiles that we saw from virtual parkrunners this week in CP Virtual parkrun #16. Thank you, we needed that!
“Niko niko” is also the name of an approach to run training that highlights the value of slow jogging, i.e., a pace where it’s easy to smile. We learned about this via parkrunner Rebecca White, who this week jogged the whole 5K route on the Paint Branch Trail for the first time. If you know about Rebecca’s story over the past two years, you’ll know what an achievement this is.
You gave us lots of good things to share this week, as always. But we know that it’s a tough time right now, on so many dimensions. Whether it’s health, job security, distance learning, societal breakdown, or climate change, there’s a lot to be worried about these days. And if you’re a runner or walker -- quite likely if you’re reading this -- then the hot and humid summer weather is likely adding to the stress.
We focus on the bright side, not because that’s all we see, but because that’s one way that we can help each other.
This week we also share more thoughts on what the future holds for our event, and how we can continue to support each other.
Niko niko pace - thanks to Rebecca for telling us about this. And thanks to Joe for being an outstanding roadie (trailie?)
Facts and Figures
- 155 virtual parkrunners
- 700 miles covered
- 5 first-timers
- 9 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
- 8 new HIGH FIVES earned
- 6 barkrunners
- 9 virtual volunteers
After 16 weeks, around 500 different individuals have completed 2,650 activities totalling over 11,000 miles at College Park Virtual parkrun. Around 200 have participated five or more times. We are deeply impressed by the dedication of this community.
Gloria Cottman approaching the finish of her 16th CPVp - perfect attendance!
Not so fast
On Friday, Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda set a new world record for 5K, running on a track in Monaco. His time of 12:35 beat a record that had stood for 16 years,
How fast is that? Crazy fast. It’s basically 4-minute mile pace, for 3 consecutive miles.
How fast would that be on our course? It would mean getting from Hump’s Crossing to Lisa’s turnaround in 5 minutes. It would mean finishing about a mile ahead of Sam Phipps or Clark Ridge. The fastest ever time on our course, 14:57 by Paul Marteletti in 2017, is the fastest parkrun ever in the US. Cheptegei’s run would put him a half mile ahead of Marteletti. Incredible!
Don't try this at home, folks!
David Lai captured the mood pretty well, describing his run at the “SeaWheeze Half Marathon”. “My attempt to finally take a virtual race seriously turned into a casual run with friends. Catching up was worth more than a PR today.” We agree!
Similar feelings from Malik Al Jame: “Hello Beautiful CPVp'ers I'm starting to appreciate/miss the beauty of our big group and all the speedy runners that push me. Great opportunity nonetheless to meet and socialize in different ways.”
We hear you! We’re lucky to be able to connect with people in so many different ways in 2020. But there’s still nothing quite like being with real people face to face. So we are really enjoying the opportunities that we have for that.
If you head to the Paint Branch Trail some time on a Saturday morning, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across familiar faces, at whatever time you go there. This week a few people were back on the PB Trail for the first time in a while, including Dan Pearlstein, Michelle Brandy, and Louise Godley, who was joined by Anne L’Ecuyer visiting for the first time.
Welcome (back) to the trail, Anne and Louise
For some parkrunners once along the trail was not enough.
Andrea Zukowski set out early for her run, but not before leaving an inspirational message at the start line. And then after running the parkrun course for the first time in a while she headed back out with her camera to capture some of the action.
She even spotted a great blue heron, trying to mind his own business in the marshy area. And then proceeded to point it out to many passing parkrunners. (Trace Huard was so focused on his run that he thought Andrea was telling him to look out for a parrot. Close, but ....)
Lori Dominick did her fastest 5K in a year and a half, and then headed back out to support Rebecca White in her own 5K.
Lori's fastest 5K since March 2019
Malik Al Jame did a speedy 5K of his own, and then joined nephew Isaiah for his 6th successive week of 5Ks. Isaiah’s PB streak ended this week. But uncle Malik is super proud of the progress that he has made so far.
And many of you again joined for our socially distanced coffee meetup in the pocket park behind The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee.
Join us next week for coffee. There's plenty of space to spread out.
Not only in College Park
It wasn’t only on the Paint Branch Trail where CP virtual parkrunners were having reunions. Many other parkrun venues hosted some CPVp action this week.
Various CPp regulars ran into each other along Beach Drive in Kensington, near the Kensington parkrun course. Erin Munsell and Brian Murphy were making the most of the cooler conditions to run 15 and 18 milers, respectively, which also gave them more opportunity to run into Evan and Katie Hirsche.
In Durham, NC, Steve Feld led a group of socially distanced parkrunners on the Durham, NC parkrun course.
Steve Feld and his posse on the course of Durham, NC parkrun
In Livonia, MI Tim Keer made a return to Bicentennial Park, home of Livonia parkrun, where he ran into a number of friends.
Michael Phipps and Maleta Ann Robinson ran the Virtual Shawshank Hustle race in Mansfield, OH, using their local parkrun course for their virtual route.
Meanwhile, Kazuko Yatsushiro did her 16th CPVp by running part of a Mauerweg relay with the Hasenheide parkrun team in Berlin, Germany. The Mauerweg (literally “wall path” in English) is a ~100 mile walking and cycling path through the city that follows the so-called “death strip” that used to exist between the inner and outer parts of the Berlin wall. (https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/jun/15/cycling-round-berlin-wall-mauerweg-germany)
Kazuko on her 16th CPVp, 11 of the 100 miles of the former Berlin Wall
Even more venues
You can run or walk wherever you want for CPVp, and as usual you did!
Catherine Spirito & Pete Monacelli went running on the beach in Narragansett, RI. Just a couple of miles away -- as the crow flies or the dolphin swims -- Valerie Silensky and Chris Lowe were exploring historical sites in Newport, RI.
Narragansett Bay -- Catherine and Pete did their CPVp on the other side of that bay
Erin & Joshua Schneider ran in Williamsburg, sans kids, for their anniversary!
Team(let) Schneider in Williamsburg, VA this week
Külli Crespin ran on a treadmill while in quarantine after returning from Estonia. Maybe out of solidarity, Teresa Perdomo also did her CPVp on a treadmill this week.
Continuing our virtual summer tour of Italy, Stefano Gazzano ran through the narrow streets and countryside in the ancient village of Onano (https://www.summerinitaly.com/guide/onano). He and his wife Daniela were there celebrating the Feast of the Assumption. Onano is famous for its lentils, with an annual (except for this year) Lentil Festival full of music, outdoor markets, street food, and celebration.
Town on a cliff
Cindy Cohen was running in Fargo, ND. We suspect that this is a stopover on a drive back to Idaho.
Angela Gentile and TJ Hool raced in Dewey Beach, Delaware this week for Breast Fest, the town’s breast cancer awareness 5K run. They both placed second in their age groups!
Matching shades. And medals.
And much closer to home, Ellen Oberholtzer and barkrunner Eli continued their local art tour, finding another piece of artwork in Riverdale Park, MD. The title of the piece is 'Fork, Knife and Spoon Sun', and if you zoom in on the picture, you can see that it's made up of those utensils!
Eli's art tour continues
We had 5 first-timers this week. Welcome to all!
Kristie Atwood ran and walked 8 miles in Greenbelt, MD. We love Kristie’s story: “The only positive I’ve found from the Covid pandemic is I started to run. I started at 1.5 miles in March and hated every step. I persisted, since the gyms were closed, and with each week I increased the miles. Little by little, step by step, I’ve fallen in love with the sport again.” Fantastic!
We also love this message from first-timer Jon Wilson: “This is my first parkrun or virtual parkrun ever. John Ramsey convinced me to do it. I lost my car key somewhere on the trail. John and I retraced the entire trail and eventually found the key near the start and finish line. This minor mishap won’t discourage me. I will be back … virtually.” We’re looking forward to that, Jon.
Welcome Jon. And we're glad you found your keys!
Anna Weber has been fostering pups, and this week she found that she was fostering a barkrunner: “I finally got a foster dog who likes to exercise!! Odin and I did about four miles (each) of leisurely jogging with some walking/sniffing mixed in. Now he is tired (for once).”
Post-barkrun recovery for Odin
Monique Richards is no stranger to the local trails, and this week she joined CPVp for the first time after running with her friends from Prince George’s Running Club. We’re quite sure that running into Andrea on the trail had nothing to do with this.
PGRC crew on the Tunnel of Trees
8 virtual parkrunners earned a High Five badge in the results table this week.
Jeff Rosenberg, Bob Johnson, Ranger (barkrunner), Jorge Aguilera, Mark Grudzien, Judy Mason, Mary Menendez, Shelley Gough Lauffer
And 9 virtual parkrunners earned a 10-timer turtle badge.
Cotter Rosenberg, TJ Hool, Josh Weiss, Maleta Ann Robinson, Michael Phipps, Neha Joshi, Dominique Blom, Eve Fingerett, Laurie Goodfriend, Walker (barkrunner)
A shout out to Jeff and Cotter Rosenberg who earned badges on the same day. Jeff R is running at altitude in Denver, CO.
Mark Grudzien has become a regular thanks to taking walks in Michigan while his parkrunning daughter Janet is visiting for the summer.
A highlight of Janet's summer has been regular walks with dad Mark
Shelley Gough Lauffer first joined us thanks to encouragement from Diana Gough, and now she regularly joins us from Mt Airy, MD.
Eve Fingerett is the first of our West Virginian CPVpers to reach 10 runs.
Neha Joshi did her CPVp this week while exploring downtown DC with Yogarshi Vyas.
Exploring the sights
As always, we could not do this without a great team of volunteers. This week’s CPVp was brought to you by: Joyce Adams, Diana Gough, Katie Hirsche, Nick Huang, Trace Huard, Tara Mease, Colin Phillips, Hannah Russell, Anna Tinnemore, and Andrea Zukowski.
In addition to the core roles of collecting, organizing, and sharing results and stories, there some additional fun roles -- could this be you in a future week?
CHALKER: Write inspiring or entertaining messages on the trail to be seen by visiting parkrunners. (This week: Andrea)
PAPARAZZO/A: Roam the trail capturing pictures of nature, and parkrunners in their natural habitat. (This week: Andrea)
CHEERLEADER: Roam Facebook or Strava, offering encouragement. (This week: Trace Huard)
Cheerleader Trace set an all-time 5K PB this week!
We owe a special shout out this week for our virtual tailwalkers, Lisa Wilson and her dad James Wilson. They walked 5K in 2 hours 53 mins along the Matthew Henson Trail in Silver Spring. As regular readers know, James is the world’s oldest virtual parkrunner, at 102 years.
This week Lisa reports that it might have been James’ last 5K, as he is awaiting results of a COVID test, after which he will be moving to an assisted living facility. We wish James the very best, and we are inspired by his determination.
This is the part where we step back from the week’s happenings to update you on prospects for returning to ‘normal’, and on plans for the coming weeks and months. This week: no major changes, but a few things are becoming clearer.
In last week’s report we discussed the new COVID-19 framework from parkrun Global. This is the draft model for how a parkrun event could operate in a world where safety precautions remain in a community due to ongoing community spread of the coronavirus. This week parkrun Global published a useful FAQ document in response to questions about the framework, accompanied by another useful discussion in their “official podcast”, Free, Weekly, Timed. As we discussed last week, the new model is one that would work just fine for us in College Park.
A key question in people’s minds, though, is *when* we might be able to hold non-virtual events again. Our answer remains: we really don’t know, but we don’t expect any change in 2020.
The FAQ document highlights some key criteria for being able to restart parkrun events. (i) Government regulations: events will not violate local or national rules. (ii) Risk: there must be a low risk of infection at the event. (iii) Interest from parkrunners: if substantial numbers of parkrunners don’t feel ready to resume, then events are less likely to go ahead. (iv) Community acceptance: events won’t go ahead if this would lead to widespread resistance from the local community.
The last of these points is key. We suspect that this means that parkrun events won’t be the first mid-sized sporting events to return. The first running events to return will attract a high level of scrutiny. If that goes well, then parkrun events can maybe return soon after with limited fanfare. But parkrun events likely won’t be the first to return.
Bonnie, Anna and Mike on the trail. First time covering the full 5K since surgery for Mike.
One piece of the parkrun COVID-19 framework that might be very relevant to us in College Park is the possibility of re-opening on different dates within a country. Previously parkrun Global declared that countries would either be all open or all closed. They have now backed off from that position. So, in principle, it could be that parkrun events in the DMV might re-open ahead of events in California. This is possible, but we still regard it as a fairly remote possibility. There are differences across the US, but they pale in comparison to the differences between states in Australia, where Northern Territory is virus-free while Victoria (= home of Melbourne) is in a severe lockdown. In Australia right now, interstate travel might require you to pay to spend 14 days in a designated quarantine hotel. At your own expense. This is FAR more state-to-state contrast than we see in the US.
Meanwhile, College Park is the largest parkrun event in N America, and the DMV has the greatest density of events in the continent, with 16,000 registered parkrunners. Some US parkrun events fly largely under the radar. That’s not the case in College Park. College Park parkrun is the largest running event in Prince George's County, in terms of annual participation.
So, our best guess right now is that the triggers for a return to normal-ish will be: (i) widespread removal of restrictions across the US on events of up to 500+, including in Prince George’s County. (ii) Successful relaunch of parkrun events in the UK, some of Australia, and Canada. (iii) Widespread operation of mid-sized running events in the US and Canada, without substantial community or media pushback. We think it very unlikely that those criteria will be met in 2020.
So, this all means that we’re in this for the long(ish) haul. There are 20 more parkrun days in 2020. So what can we do?
Michelle Lemon had good company on her CPVp this week
It’s clear that our virtual events have been a success. Participation and return rate are FAR higher than expected. And we have been able to reach a wider community than we could have imagined, in geographic terms. But it’s also clear that people are craving face-to-face human interaction more and more. And the virtual format goes only so far as a replacement.
So we need solutions that are compatible with local government regulations, that present very low risk, that parkrunners are comfortable with, and that have good community acceptance. (Yes, that’s the same list from above.)
We are fortunate to have some wonderful trails for running and walking. This includes our regular Paint Branch Trail course. But it also includes other local routes such as the closed section of Beach Drive in Kensington, which includes some of the Kensington parkrun course. We cannot have people congregating at 9am in these locations for organized events. But if people just show up at a time that works for them on a Saturday morning, then there’s a good chance that they will encounter a handful of fellow parkrunners. The Paint Branch Trail is never crowded. It’s always easy to avoid prolonged proximity. And it’s also a great venue to see familiar and supportive faces. Stopping for suitably distanced conversations along the trail or at Acredale Park is no problem at all. All entirely consistent with county regulations, risk reduction, and community acceptance.
We're fortunate to have such a pretty trail to run or walk on. And much of it was resurfaced in recent weeks. Thank you PG Parks!
We are also fortunate to have a pocket park where we can hold socially distanced outdoor meetups, while supporting local businesses like The Board and Brew and Vigilante Coffee. Free parking, ample space, shade, and amazing coffee. What’s not to like. We have really enjoyed the first 3 weeks of meetups and we’re looking forward to continuing them, maybe bringing extra layers as the weather cools.
So, for the next few months, we’re looking forward to connecting with you and helping to support you in staying active, either in person or through electronic tools. And we are ALWAYS happy to hear your suggestions on how we could do this better.
Important final note
Next Saturday is August 22nd. Yes, two-two day, or tutu day. Back on Feb 22nd many of you donned a tutu to celebrate this auspicious date. All are invited to do the same next Saturday. And remember: pictures or it didn’t happen.
Until next time!
Your CPVp Team
First legit sub-20 on Keaton's home 5K course in Highland, MD
Colin was happy to run his fastest CPVp yet this week. And even happier to see friends along the trail.