College Park parkrun is cancelled on 2021-03-06 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A Fresh Start (Virtual Report 41)

It was a cold start to the weekend. Not the lowest temperatures that we have seen this winter, but temperatures around freezing combined with stiff breezes to make it feel much colder than it actually was.

A “fresh start” would be a slightly euphemistic way of describing how it felt to get outside yesterday. That’s also a good euphemism for what happened in Washington DC this past week. We’re happy to see the thousands of National Guard troops leaving the city. We’re happy that shuttered metro stations are reopening. We’re happy that new federal action could help to improve the trajectory of the pandemic.

Many of you enjoyed hearing 2017 Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman perform in front of the Capitol during the inauguration on Wednesday. We confess that we didn’t know that Youth Poet Laureate was a thing. But regular readers of this report will recall that just a couple of weeks ago we featured a poet laureate with ties to our community. Barkrunner Eli educated us in our New Years report about Reed Whittemore, a College Park resident and UMD English professor who was US poet laureate on two separate occasions. There's a sign commemorating him along the Trolley Trail where many people do their CPVp each week.

In previous winters, this weekend’s cold weather would have kept a lot of people away from our in-person events. That didn’t happen at this week’s CPVp #41. So we have lots to share this week, as always.



The face masks helped us to stay warm this week (yeah, and that other thing, too)
Heather said: can you see that she's smiling under the mask?

Facts and Figures

  • 176 virtual parkrunners
  • 765 miles covered
  • 5 first-timers
  • 3 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 3 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 4 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 12 barkrunners
  • 7 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: January 2021 is unusual for having SIX CPVp days. That’s because we have 5 Saturdays plus New Years Day. We challenged you to get out and get active on as many of those days as possible. Here are the counts with 1 remaining Saturday in January.

5 times: 87
4 times: 39
3 times: 35
2 times: 45
1 time: 106
Total: 312

Nice going! We’ll update with end-of-the-month totals next week. Then we can restart the counts for February, when you’ll only have 4 Saturdays to cover.



Adrien Harrison is one of the many people (and pups) on track for 6 CPVps in January

A very fresh start

The main thing that we heard in this week’s activity reports is how cold it was. It wasn’t so much the temperature as the wind that was blowing from the north in the DMV.


Pam Marcus demonstrates alternative ways to put a hot tea to good use

Erin Munsell did a 15-miler as a warm-up for the weekend, joining with Jen Murphy for 10 of those miles. A few miles from the end, Jen noticed that Erin’s hair was frozen.

Lisa Wilson reported that her 5K on the Paint Branch Trail took 42 minutes for the first half and 18 minutes for the return journey. These times may be “approximate”, but we understand the sentiment.

In a week that started with troops on the National Mall and ended with memes about Bernie Sanders’ mittens, Joan Heffernan was making good use of her mittens for her CPVp in Suffield, CT. Joan reports that they were a gift from a former student. What a great way to share appreciation for a teacher!


Nice mittens, Joan!

Further afield, Meridith Phillips was feeling the full force of the wind as she did her CPVp along an empty beach in Nags Head, NC.

And much further afield, Rach and John Cousen were scoping out the flooding that recently hit much of the UK, including their region of Leicestershire. They walked with the “village flood warden” (yeah, we didn’t know that was a thing). Conveniently enough, the local flood was about 2.5 km from home. Perfect for a virtual parkrun!

Wherever you want … or can

One of the popular venues for CPVp activities is the Trolley Trail that extends from North College Park through Riverdale Park to Hyattsville, conveniently ending close to Franklin’s Brewery and General Store and Vigilante Coffee, among other excellent local businesses. The trail follows the route of the old #82 streetcar line that ran along Rhode Island Avenue. See a cool video of the old route here.

This week we learned about another Trolley Trail that is now on our list of places to visit. The Number Nine Trolley Trail in Ellicott City is where Andrea Solan did her CPVp this week. It covers part of the route of an old line from Ellicott City to Catonsville that was in use in the first half of the 20th century. That boardwalk through a ravine looks really enticing.


Andrea Solan on the "other" Trolley Trail

Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Vyas did their CPVp by walking laps of the parking lot of Graduate Hills apartments on the western edge of the UMD campus. Yogarshi is dealing with some knee issues, so this was the safest way to get his weekly 5K in. Neha noted that it wasn’t the most scenic 5K route ever, but she conceded that the company was pretty good. We wish Yogarshi a speedy recovery!


Now that's a fine compliment!

We were surprised to learn that the venue for Robin Phillips’ CPVp this week was the Austrian city of Innsbruck (one of only 3 cities to host the Winter Olympics twice … though soon there will be a fourth, do you know where that is?). We were feeling jealous. But then we learned the backstory. Robin and family are isolating at home due to recent community spread of the coronavirus in a local elementary school. So Robin was running on his treadmill, with a choice of a fake location or staring out the window. Ok, so we’re no longer so jealous.


Yeah, that route looks legit

Mayor to Mayor

Trails for walking and biking are one of our favorite things. In College Park we are fortunate to have so many good options. They’re continuing to improve, too. If you’ve noticed the road works along Route 1 in College Park, that’s in part because of work on creating a new bike lane. If you're not in College Park and this means nothing to you, let's just say that this is a big deal, as our main artery is about as non bike-friendly as a road can be.

There are many reasons to feel optimistic about the choice of Pete Buttigieg as the new federal Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg, AKA Mayor Pete, is the former mayor of South Bend, IN who made a splash on the 2020 presidential election trail. The Washington Post recently featured a story about his efforts to rethink streetscapes in South Bend during his time as mayor there.

Our own “Mayor Patrick” is also keen on trails and public transportation. So we were excited to see this clip of him asking Buttigieg about biker and pedestrian infrastructure at this week's US Conference of Mayors meeting.


Mayor Patrick speaks with Mayor Pete

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed FIVE first-timers to CPVp. On such a cold day, that’s maybe more than we expected. Barkrunner Clyde was running in Livonia, MI, so he’s probably used to the cold. Mickey Lanigan joined us from Central Florida, so we suspect that her weather was a little milder. Amber Marcut, Ellen Hamilton, and Shikha Manandhar are all locals. Welcome to Shikha, who joined us once before for an in person event in 2019, and to Amber, who is a genuine first-timer. Yay!


Welcome Shikha!

Ellen has joined us for a number of CPp events before, both as runner/walker and volunteer. One that stands out in our memory is Memorial Day weekend 2017 when we welcomed parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt, together with a crowd of 180 that seemed huge at the time, though it’s now a regular winter day for CP Virtual parkrun. We were concerned about trail congestion, so we assigned Ellen the role of “lead bike” to warn other trail users. But when she reached the Dead Marshes area of the course she discovered what appeared to be an injured duckling on the side of the trail. So she quickly shifted her role to duckling protection (a role that is not included in the list of official volunteer roles).


Ellen's first time volunteering at CPp didn't turn out as planned

THREE more people earned a High Five badge for their 5th CPVp: Dan Pearlstein, Deborah Gayle, and Crystal Bergemann. Deborah headed out at 5:30am when it was even colder than it was for most of us. Dan became a regular parkrunner last winter, shortly before we went virtual. Crystal was one of our original CP parkrunners, taking part in our official launch event. She was also one of the earliest winners of our parkrunner of the month award. So it was great to see her name pop up in this week’s Facebook feed.


Crystal in early 2017, receiving the PoTM award

We also saw THREE new proud recipients of our Ten-Timer Turtle badges: Rach Cousen, Monique Richards, and Rod Green. Monique and Rod are both locals and regular runners with Prince George’s Running Club. Rach is one of our recruits from Melton Mowbray Virtual parkrun in the UK. The turtle badge may be especially suitable this week, since Rach did her virtual parkrun with her village flood warden.

And we also saw FOUR new members of our 25-timer club, now displaying cake badges in the weekly results table: Zak Mellen, Michael Bevers, Adam Gann, and barkrunner Walker.

Notably, although this group has completed 100 CPVps between them, probably only around 15% of those have been completed anywhere near College Park. Adam and Walker join us from Detroit, and Michael from Charleston, WV. Zak is definitely local -- this week he’ll be helping to manage College Park’s population surge, as part of the UMD Resident Life team. His CPVps tend to be split between local runs on the Paint Branch Trail and runs in Northern Virginia.

Just a few of the other notable things that reached our inbox this week.

Jen Matis again completed her longest run ever, covering almost 8 miles. If you’re following along, you’ll know that it will take a 10 mile round trip for Jen to reach the vegan donuts at Donut Run in Takoma. Getting closer! Do you have a goal that you’re working towards? We’d love to hear about it.

This week’s virtual tailwalkers, completing the 5K in 1:39, were Team Schneider. That’s Erin, Joshua, Samantha, and Mary Clare. This was a notable achievement, because it was Erin’s first time completing the 5K distance since the first of her foot surgeries back in October. Fantastic! It’s also notable because of young James Schneider’s outfit, which had us all wishing we had a Baby Yoda suit of our own.


We want a Baby Yoda onesie!

At the other end of the speed range, our fastest time of the week was by Katie Hirsche, as is often the case these days. We actually had one faster time. Speedster Sam Phipps shared the following:

“I actually ran pretty fast today. Legs and old injury felt good. But I failed at hitting my watch. It said 30ish seconds, not even Eliud Kipchoge can run 3.3 mi in 30 seconds!”

(Fun fact: Eliud Kipchoge's 1:59:40 marathon time from 2019 equates to around 14:10 per 5K, eight times over. That's fast.)

If Sam said that he ran “pretty fast”, then that’s probably an understatement. We’re happy to see that he’s getting back in shape, and we all can look forward to the day when we’re able to come back together on the Paint Branch Trail and watch him whiz past in the opposite direction as we head towards the turnaround.

Finally, in the “gluttons for punishment” category, this week’s clear winners were David Lai, Dami Alao, and Malik Al-Jame. Not only did they complete a trail half marathon around Greenbelt National Park. They decided to make it more interesting by pausing every 2 miles for 25 air squats, 25 push ups, a 60-second plank, and 10 burpees. Yikes!


Hard core!

Virtual Volunteers

Many thanks to this week’s virtual volunteer crew! It takes at least as much time and energy to put on these virtual events as it does the in person events. So this wouldn’t be possible without a team each week.

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

Here’s what the virtual volunteer crew does each week.

First, they collect up the activities, pictures, and stories that flow in across multiple channels throughout Saturday (Strava, Facebook, email, online form, Andrea’s camera). The activities are all entered into a big Google Sheet that Tara manages. Pictures are labeled and saved to our Google Drive archive.

We do a preliminary sort early evening, so that we can share an “instant feedback” summary post to our Facebook followers on Saturday evening.

Saturday night and on Sunday we check and format the results, sort stories, write prose, trim and compress photos, and upload the report to our website. We focus on putting it on the website, as that's the location that the most people can see.

Then we share the report and results to all of our channels. They generally go right away to Facebook, Strava, and Instagram. We try to keep our emails to once per week, so the report and results links tend to go out in the weekly email at the end of the week.

Then we rinse and repeat.

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at if you can help.


Thanks to Trace for joining the virtual volunteer crew this week


This week the barkrunners had mixed feelings about getting outside in the cold. Some could’nt wait to get started. Others were happy to stay home in bed. Some may have been eager to get out and then thought better of it.

Gloria Cottman took Tuffi out on the Paint Branch Trail early the day for a morning 5K. She figured that was probably enough for the day, but Scruffi had other ideas, and gave Gloria sad looks throughout the day until she took her out. So Gloria got to do her second 5K of the day. And Scruffi set a PB for 5K! Scruffi is not among the younger pups, but she has gotten into the 5K habit very recently. She’s a canine example of what we have seen so many times before in humans: it’s never too late to get a little more active.


Tuffi got to do the morning 5K


Scruffi got the afternoon shift

Roo got to go out with Dom Blom and Michael Iati on the Paint Branch Trail, and seemed to be pretty happy about it.


Roo enjoyed his outing with Dom and Michael

Shackleton started his run by heading south on the Paint Branch Trail, with the help of a brisk “tail” wind. When he reached Acredale Park, Angela said that it was time to turn back into the teeth of the wind. Shackleton had other thoughts.


Keep. Heading. South.

Eli was out exploring Hyattsville with Ellen, as usual. This week they found another cool mural. This one was painted by artist Demont Pinder. This mural is very new, and it was featured in a recent story in The Hyattsville Wire (which we recommend as a great source for local happenings and history).


New mural!foxy-web

Foxy looks pretty happy to be outside


Gifford is actually happy to be outside, too. That's just his RBF (resting barkrunner face)


Barkrunner Tucker went for a jaunt with Amy Rice. ... And we realized that we have TWO barkrunners named Tucker in our CPVp database. Tara, help!

Looking Back

One year ago, on a wet morning in College Park when the Paint Branch Stream had turned into a raging river, complete with kayakers, we welcomed the Barnes family from Newcastle, Australia: Michelle, Craig, Jack, Lachlan, and Lacy.


The raging Paint Branch Stream, one year ago

Older son Jack was first finisher that day. Fortunately he didn’t leave the locals too far behind, as we had to make some course improvisations on the fly during the event, to put a turn around cone in the right place for our two-lap course.


That's called a mid-course adjustment

Mom Michelle ran with Lachlan, and dad Craig ran with Lacy. It was a little colder than they’re accustomed to, but they seemed to have a good time.

This week we were delighted to hear from Michelle, who shared this picture of Lacy from last week’s Paradise Point parkrun in Gold Coast, Queensland. Lacy recently turned 11, earning the freedom to run without a parental chaperone. She marked it by running a speedy 22:24 PB and finishing as first female that day. Nice job, Lacy!

Needless to say, we’re also jealous of the fact that life is so normal now in Australia. Let’s hope that we can get to something like that in 2021. We're willing to compromise: we'll forgo the beach if we can just get together in the park.


Nice PB Lacy! ... And look at that beach!!!

Looking Ahead

Two questions that we’re facing everywhere we look in 2021 are: “When will things get back to normal?” and “What will ‘normal’ actually look like when we get there?”

In education, we’re likely going to see more hybrid in-person and virtual learning in the future. Maybe not so much for elementary schoolers. But certainly for the higher education that’s a big part of what happens in College Park. Workplaces are likely to be more hybrid, especially for many local workers who have skipped their daily commute to downtown DC over the past year.

But what about running and walking communities like ours?

We have written often about the pros and cons of in-person vs. virtual events in this column. It’s clear that some people are served better by one or the other format. It's also that some people are served well by different formats on different days. They're local enough to join us regularly, but sometimes they can't get to be with us at 9am. So is there a future for hybrid events?

The simple answer is that we just don’t know. But we were interested to read this week that the London Marathon, one of the world’s premier races, is leaning in to the hybrid approach for 2021.

Normally around 40,000 gather in London for the marathon each April. Last fall a similar number took part in a virtual version of the London Marathon, including a half dozen CPVp regulars. Many other CP parkrunners took part in other virtual fall marathons, sometimes using the CP parkrun route as a venue. Overall sentiment was, “Well, that was better than expected!”


Stewart's looking forward to getting back to normal after fracturing his arm. He did his first ever marathon in this year's Virtual London Marathon. 

The 2021 London Marathon will take place in early October, in the hope that coronavirus restrictions are relaxed by then. The plan is to have 50,000 in-person participants in London, and also to have 50,000 virtual runners taking part on the same day around the UK and around the world, for a total of 100,000. That will make it the world’s largest marathon. Ever.

We will be curious to see how it works out. We don’t know, for example, how the integration of simultaneous in-person and virtual events will be handled, if at all.

Is any of this relevant to our community? There are a lot of differences between the London Marathon and College Park parkrun, in terms of scale, budget (theirs is many millions, ours is $0), and visibility (they're a national institution, we're tiny).

But there are a couple of points of connection that make this speculation less idle.

First, parkrun and the London Marathon are both products of the same running community in south west London. The two organizations have deep connections going back many years, and they have partnered on a various projects, including the growth of parkrun events in London a few years ago. Fun fact: the founders of the London Marathon and parkrun came from the same running club, Ranelagh Harriers. That club is also ‘twinned’ with our local Montgomery County Road Runners, which many College Park and Kensington parkrunners belong to. In fact, when we were working with Pam Marcus and her team to get Kensington parkrun started, the connection to Ranelagh Harriers proved valuable in getting support from MCRRC.


Even if we can't cheer you in person, we'll do the next best thing(s). Our signs are no longer spread along the trail. But they can be found at Acredale Park on Saturdays.

Second, the virtual London Marathon and College Park Virtual parkrun stand out for being among the more successful examples of their genre. And for similar reasons.

We don’t anticipate that many of this past year’s virtual races will be interested in holding hybrid events in the future. Deservedly popular local events like the popular Celtic Solstice 5 miler in Baltimore aren’t going to be looking to hold parallel virtual races. Don't expect to see a virtual Cherry Blossom 10 miler in 2022. There’s little demand and little upside for the organizers. Locally, the Army Ten Miler might be an exception, as there is a well defined audience of potential participants, in whatever locations troops are stationed around the world.

The London Marathon was unusual among virtual races in 2020 for finding a model that felt a bit more like an actual event. Everybody did their marathon in the same 24-hour window. The organizers, and their partners at the BBC, used electronic communications to create more of a sense of participation and connection. Here in College Park, Colin Phillips teamed up with some CP parkrunners to live stream his run to the BBC’s "digital wall". The organizers created an app that made a noble effort to help participants feel that they were part of something larger than themselves. A lot of people reported that it was a surprisingly good experience. The extra effort paid off. We followed the evolution of virtual races over the past year, and the ones that got the best feedback managed to make the social engagement feel genuine.


Colin was excited this week to run injury-free. He's hoping to get back to marathon shape by the fall. If travel or the pandemic makes it impossible for him to get to London to do the marathon in person, he knows that the virtual event will be a fun alternative. And the venue for that is already clear.

There are parallels to CPVp. Participation actually increased over our in-person events. We regularly hear from people who tell us that they are surprised at how well it has worked. We are surprised, too. We know that it’s not the same as in-person events, and there are many people who we’re just not serving like we used to. But the focus on using communications for social support is the key.

It’s still way too early to know how things will unfold for us here in College Park, and across our now distributed community. But this week’s move by one of the world’s top running events means that the notion of hybrid events is suddenly a more serious idea.

Meanwhile, wrap up warm, and we look forward to hearing from you again next week for CP Virtual parkrun #42.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Debbie enjoyed quality time with her daughter Nina on the trail this week


Good morning, Elmer!


Lori looking stylish in her Maryland flag mask


Tim and Emma Keer are among the big crew that have completed all 5 CPVps this month. Here they are in snowy Michigan for their very first parkrun, 4 years ago this weekend.

bud-verge copy-web

Bud can be found on the trail every Saturday morning, working up an appetite for ...


No, not for ALL of them


Chilly social-but-distanced coffee meetup at the Discovery District Park


See you next week!


Standing Together (Virtual Report 40)

We walk and run wherever we want for our virtual parkruns. But the Paint Branch Trail in College Park remains the most common venue. Some go there on a Saturday because it’s never crowded, or because it’s just a beautiful place to be. Some go there because they know they’re likely to see friendly faces along the trail. So we were especially pleased to get a message this week from first-timer Maria Ferrucci, who said:

“First time on the parkrun course! Loved being greeted by what I presumed were regulars. Will be back, for sure!”

Yes, that’s pretty much how it feels on the trail on a Saturday. There are familiar faces and unfamiliar faces, but there are a lot of positive vibes to go around.

So what happened this week at CP Virtual parkrun #40? As usual, you shared a lot with us.



Yes, you'll always find smiling faces on the trail on a Saturday morning

Facts and Figures

  • 167 virtual parkrunners
  • 690 miles covered
  • 3 first-timers
  • 2 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 2 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 7 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 13 barkrunners
  • 8 virtual volunteers

Stat(s) of the week: We now have 40 virtual events under our belts. At this point 748 different individuals have completed 6756 CP virtual parkruns.

  • 27 have taken part all 40 weeks
  • 116 have earned a 25-timer cake badge
  • 211 have earned a 10-timer turtle badge
  • 298 have earned a 5-timer high five badge

As a point of comparison, after our first 40 in-person events, we had just 5 25-timers. This past year has been different.



116 virtual parkruns between just these 3. Mike, Bonnie, and Anna took it a little more slowly this week due to ice on the bridges.

Standing Together

Those who visited the Paint Branch Trail on Saturday may have noticed that our collection of signs that we placed along the trail on Thanksgiving were standing in a circle in Acredale Park. Here’s the backstory.


We stand together

We made the signs, all featuring artwork by Zoe Phillips showing regular CP parkrun volunteers, as a way to offer extra encouragement to socially distanced trail users during the winter months. They were a bit more professionally produced than the Lisa and Hump course marshal signs that had been on the trail since the early days of the pandemic.

We received a lot of positive feedback about the signs. People were happy to see smiling faces along the trail. But clearly not everybody was happy. One trail user (ok, it could be many, but we suspect not) soon took to regularly removing the signs. Then parkrunners would put them up again. Then we would find them thrown over fences, or folded and hidden in undergrowth. This week we found the Xander sign thrown off a bridge into the stream.

We were starting to look forward less to visiting the trail, knowing that we would be looking for what had most recently happened to the signs. Somebody was annoyed, and we did not need to share in those feelings.

So Andrea headed out early Saturday to gather up the signs. She put them up in a semi circle in the park to greet Saturday morning visitors. Maybe we’ll put them out again in the same spot in future weeks.

We’re not going to be self-righteous or outraged over this. We undertook this with good intentions, but we know that we were pushing boundaries. Pre-pandemic we were adamant that we would come and go each Saturday morning, leaving without a trace. Unable to do that in the pandemic, we took some liberties that we wouldn’t have taken before. We’re not feeling great about a person who feels the need to uproot a picture of Xander and throw it into the stream. But in the current national climate, these are very much first world problems. And we still have our signs!

Getting it done

Last Friday we shared a picture on our social media channels of Frank Snyder one year ago. Then we were celebrating his 50th CPp, and this weekend he already did his 40th CPVp. Frank has kept up his 5Ks every week during the pandemic. Mostly confined to running laps of his retirement community. Sometimes running 100 laps of his apartment while quarantined. He’s an inspiration.


One year ago this week

So this week Frank reported that this inspired him, too! So he put his head down and ran his fastest 5K of the pandemic, 2 minutes faster than his normal clip these days. Excellent!

Meanwhile in Riverdale Park, Jan Matis was drawing inspiration from last week’s donut related discussion. She figured that Donut Run, the new vegan (!) donut place in Takoma, is 5 miles from home. So, a 10 mile round trip. That’s further than Jen has ever run, but she’s working up to it. This week she covered 7 miles, her furthest yet. Watch this space for more developments on this story. And if you have other local businesses that you’d like to support by making them your CPVp destination, we’d love to hear about it!

In Ann Arbor, MI, Emma Keer was facing the first hurdle in her 2021 resolution to run a half marathon every month. Emma’s based in Ann Arbor, where it was a little icy. She set out with Yaktrax on her shoes -- these devices are familiar to midwestern runners, but less well known in Maryland -- but one of them soon broke. But Emma was undaunted and got it done, with Lillie parkrun buddy Amanda as company for the last few miles.


Emma and Amanda looking for Florida weather in Ann Arbor in January as Emma takes on the Miami (Virtual) Half Marathon

Derek Symer was making the most of a snowstorm in Vermont, where he and his family are currently in covid hibernation. It was his slowest 5K in some time, but also one of the most enjoyable.


Perfect weather for a run in Vermont

In somewhat better weather in Columbia, MD, Adrien Harrison was also completing a solo half marathon. Nice!

And it looks like David Lai, Malik Al-Jame, Dami Alao and their crew were going for difficulty over distance this week, as they tackled a 10-miler on the Occoquan Trail Bull Run. The trail totals 17 miles and portions are also used for horse-back riding and mountain biking. The trail is described as “moderately strenuous” for hiking, so running it must have been pretty difficult!


Bull Run crew

Closer to home, Stewart Mayhew was taking his first tentative steps back to jogging along the Paint Branch Trail, after slipping and fracturing his upper arm on the trail a few weeks ago. Steady does it, Stewart, but it’s great to see you back!


Luna and Leslie came along to make sure that Stewart didn't get carried away

And much, much further from home, this week’s fastest finisher, Tomas Marambio, was getting his 5K done in Santiago, Chile, on his 30th CPVp. It looks like the temperatures there are a pretty constant high of 88 degrees every day. So when he returns to College Park soon, he’s going to find it a little cooler.

Welcome wagon

Last week Patrick Wojahn showed that he is probably the fastest mayor in the DMV when he was our fastest finisher. This week he scaled things back. Well, only slightly. This was because he used his CPVp to give new resident Alec a running tour of town, including a loop of Lake Artemesia.

Now that is a welcoming community!

And welcome to Alec. Hope you can join us at CP(V)p some time.


Mayor Patrick stopped by for our social-but-distanced coffee this week

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed THREE first-timers: Maria Ferrucci is featured right at the top of this story, and you can find a picture of first-time barkrunner Luna with Stewart and Leslie somewhere in here. Tim Ramsey is a regular parkrunner in the DMV, mostly based at Fletcher’s Cove, but sometimes striking out to all of the other local events, often volunteering as tailwalker. Welcome, Tim!

We had TWO new 5-timers earning a High Five badge: Joan Richards Gordon and Carey White. Kudos to both!

Our TWO new ten-timers were Brian Maas and his barkrunner Shannon, both joining from Greensboro, NC. This means that Team Maas now has four 10-timers in the family.


Andrea and Michelle found a snowflake (ok, maybe two) in Greensboro, NC

Finally, it was a bumper week for 25-timer badges, with SEVEN new cake icons to confer: Andres Mbouh, Josh Weiss, Lisa Shiota, Dominique Blom, Eve Fingerett, Thomas Gentile, Michelle Lemon. We are happy that we get to hear from all of these folks regularly!

Virtual Volunteers

This week’s CPVp was brought to you by a team of 7 virtual volunteers. 6 regulars, plus first-timer Heather Sisan, who leaned hard into the role of online cheerleader.

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

Heather first joined us at CP parkrun in late 2017 for the UMD Homecoming event, and she has now completed 46 live parkruns (half in CP, half in Kensington) and 29 CPVps. So she would definitely have earned a red 50 shirt in 2020, had it not been for the pandemic. One of the silver linings of the pandemic, though, is that we now get to hear from Heather every week, and she always has something encouraging to say that lifts our spirits a bit. Thank you, Heather!

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at if you can help.


Could be referring to CPVp volunteers. Could be something else. Who knows!


It was a good day for barkrunners. But of course EVERY Saturday is a good day for our barkrunners, as they get to frolic outside with their humans. And what can be better than that!


Pakora enjoyed sprints at the park


Shackleton's going to be a big brother! (And congrats to Angela and TJ!)


Another week, another 5K for Scruffi in Rehoboth Beach


Sitting pretty -- Belle and Tuffi in Rehoboth Beach


Oliver stopped by the social-but-distanced coffee with Russell to make some friends


Ellen Oberholtzer and Eli visited another public art installation in Hyattsville, this one by Bronwyn King Design.


Turnaround "marshal" for Anna Weber's virtual parkrun in Arlington

Looking Back

This week many of us are looking back over the past 4 years. We don’t need to tell you why that is. At CPVp Towers we have been looking back almost exactly 4 years to January 21st, 2017.

On 1/21/17 Colin and Andrea attended the launch of Mansfield, OH parkrun in north central Ohio. In College Park it was the 15th CP parkrun. It was also the day of the Women’s March on Washington. The combination of these events made for an exciting morning.

Mansfield was the next US parkrun event to start after College Park, and the first outside the DMV in 2 years. Founders Karen and Steve Crane had visited DC for the launch of events here, including our own. So we didn’t want to miss out on their party. On the drive to Ohio we encountered a lot of snow, and also a lot of cars full of women in pink pussy hats. There was a buzz at the highway rest areas. Saturday brought an unseasonably mild January morning in Ohio, and a big crowd gathered under the huge gazebo for the pre-event briefing.


Big crowd for the Mansfield, OH parkrun inaugural on 1/21/17. Don't get us started about inaugural crowds.

Shortly before 9am we got a message from Rory Murphy, who was slated to be leading the show in College Park that day. Rory was driving down from Baltimore and was stuck in traffic gridlock, due to yet more cars full of pink hats. He probably wasn’t going to make it to College Park on time.

So, as the Mansfield launch announcements were beginning, Andrea was on the phone to Lisa Wilson, recalling her from her turnaround marshal role and doing emergency training over the phone in how to be the day’s run director. Lisa, of course, took this entirely in her stride, and had everything under control until Rory rolled in.


Rory eventually made it to College Park. Right after Lisa sent the parkrunners on their way up the trail.


Lisa took it all in her stride. She couldn't be turnaround marshal, so she sent Anouk Dieuleveut off on her bike instead. There was no other way that we could have gotten somebody to the turnaround before Clark Ridge.

There were just 36 finishers in College Park that day. A tiny crowd by today’s measures, but at that point it was the highest Saturday total of the winter so far. When we checked on the day’s results from a coffee shop in Ohio, we were surprised to see that somebody had gone and taken a minute from the women’s course record, and run a 91% age-graded time. At that point we hadn’t met Cindy Conant, so we figured that a 19:37 time in the 55-59 age group was maybe an error. We now know that it’s just a normal Saturday for Cindy. She became a regular with us and a member of the team at Kensington parkrun, and helped to spread the word to friends and family.


Zoom! Kensington's Cindy Conant sets a parkrun USA age-graded record on 1/21/17

We would have loved to take the trip back to Mansfield to celebrate their 4th birthday with them this week. But like so much else, that’s not happening right now. But we look forward to following their continued success when they (hopefully) restart later this year.

Mansfield is off the beaten track, a town of around 50,000 that is best known for the former state penitentiary that was used in filming the Shawshank Redemption. But the event that Karen and Steve Crane started has been a model for building an inclusive community. When they started Mansfield, OH parkrun, many were skeptical that they could keep a free, volunteer-led event going year round in Ohio, with its cold and snowy winters. But it has worked. The event is not large, but it grew steadily over the 3 years before the pandemic. It was especially successful in making walkers and beginning runners feel right at home. We learned a lot in College Park by observing our friends in Mansfield.


This week Mansfield, OH parkrun regular, and CPVp regular Michael Phipps shared this cool shirt from his MLK Virtual race. Michael remembers hearing MLK deliver this sermon on a TV broadcast when he was 5 years old in 1958.

The success of Mansfield was unlikely to draw national attention. But it did draw attention in Ohio. It helped to inspire efforts in mid-sized Ohio cities. Sippo Lake parkrun started in Canton, OH in early 2019. That in turn helped inspire efforts in larger Ohio cities. Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation parkrun started in Cleveland in late 2019. And before things started going awry in the world, there were promising efforts underway to start communities around Columbus.

We have seen similar things on our doorstep. Nobody cares in Manhattan or Los Angeles about a success story in College Park, MD. But folks in Kensington, MD do. As do folks in Glen Burnie, MD. And maybe in Ann Arbor, MI, because of the college town connection. And folks in Michigan pay attention to success stories in Ann Arbor. And so it goes. None of this is inevitable. But it’s how grassroots community organizing can spread in a big, diverse country like the US.

Happy Birthday Mansfield, OH parkrun!

Looking Ahead

A return to our in-person events remains a long way off, alas. There’s no real news this week from parkrun world. But that’s largely moot, as the action is all in getting the pandemic under control locally.


Ok, one thing happening in broader parkrun world is that College Park's Kim Nickens is being used to inspire people in many different languages

At this point it’s clear that getting back to normal depends on vaccinations outpacing the spread of the virus. The timeline remains unclear, but some things are coming into clearer focus.

Roughly, Marylanders need to receive 10 million shots in order to reach herd immunity. Give or take. That assumes 2 shots per person and around 80% uptake.

Some signs are encouraging. In the past 2 weeks the pace of vaccination has doubled in Maryland. A good day at the end of December saw around 10,000 shots delivered. This past week the state passed 20,000 shots in one day for the first time.

Much will now depend on whether the state can further ramp up the pace of shots via second shot distribution. Right now almost all shots are first shots. That will surely change in the next couple of weeks, as more people become eligible for a second dose.


Happy trails

If -- and it’s a big “if” -- the state has the supply and the logistics to soon deliver 20,000 first shots and 20,000 second shots every day, and if this really means every day, then we have reason to be encouraged about prospects for the return to more normal life in the summer. (But if the state just delivers 20,000 shots per day 5 days/week, then it’s going to be a really long journey.)

At this early stage in the process, each vaccine dose is great news for those who get it, but it makes little difference to community spread. The same measures will be needed for at least the next couple of months to prevent case numbers from increasing. So, little prospect for changes in event restrictions.

Once we reach 40-50% of the population with immunity, then each new vaccine dose makes more and more difference to community spread, potentially improving prospects for relaxing restrictions on human interaction.

Putting this together, if the state can deliver 40,000 doses per day, then we could see 50% of the population covered by the end of June. Right now we are not at that level yet, but it seems less crazy than it did a couple of weeks ago.

Upshot of this: don’t plan on any in person CP parkruns before July 4th, but do be cautiously optimistic that we could celebrate our 5th birthday in person in October.


Lucy and Laurie were out together as usual on Saturday

The state of Maryland today updated the vaccination section of its COVID-19 dashboard to include more information. The site is updated daily at 10am.

In the meantime, we’ll keep on trucking as a virtual event, and we’ll keep on doing all that we can to help folks be a little more active, a little more connected, and feeling good about the community around them. Thank you for all that you are doing to help with this. We know that in these times the main way that people find us and get involved is via encouragement and support from friends and family.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


Life begins at 40

(And good to see your finger recovering, Lori)



Jeremy is going further and further. This week he conquered the Scary Mountain Beyond Lisa, and followed the Paint Branch Trail to Beltsville


Welcome back from Florida, Elmer!


Scene from Cory Kind's run in Detroit, MI. No, Cory doesn't walk on water. This is taken from a bridge over an icy river.


Colin doesn't walk on water, either. But he was pretty darn happy to be able to cautiously run the full 5K this week. First time he's been able to do that in 2021. 


Louise: the feeling of running down the middle of Sligo Creek Parkway never gets oldpgrc-web

See you next week!


Let them eat cake! (Virtual Report 39)

We started off 2021 with such optimism! This week has certainly put that positivity to the test.

As if the most deadly week so far of the pandemic in the US was not enough, on Wednesday we saw a violent mob break into the US Capitol, incited by the sitting president. This was just a few miles from where most of you live. Some of you were under a curfew order on Wednesday evening, in order to protect you from rioters. We’re feeling shaken. Probably many of you are, too.

There is so much more to be said about this week. Who knows what the next couple of weeks might bring. But on Saturday it felt really, really good to get outside, to get moving, and to see some smiling faces, whether online or along the trails. We are impressed that so many of you took part this week, despite the cold temperatures.



Clare, Joanne, and Lizzie enjoying the Paint Branch Trail

Facts and Figures

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

Stat(s) of the week: Exactly 5 years ago, the first Fletcher’s Cove parkrun was held, along the C&O Canal towpath in Washington DC. It was the first event of its kind in the DMV, and it directly led to the start of College Park parkrun.

Among the 166 finishers at that event were Andrea Zukowski and Colin Phillips, who started gathering friends at the Paint Branch Trail starting the very next week.

Finishers also included Simon Wraight, who nowadays joins us every week from New Hampshire. And Dan Owen, who later became the event director at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun. And Cathryn Burby, whose mom Joan Heffernan now joins us every week from Connecticut.

Finishers also included Maria Cecil, Evan Hirsche, and 12-year old Katie Hirsche, who finished in a time of 31:30. As of this weekend, the family has completed 217 College Park parkruns, 77 CP Virtual parkruns (plus 16 by barkrunner Sophie). And Katie has volunteered 50 times (25 “classic” events and 25 virtual) and is our course record holder.


January 9th 2016, Fletcher's Cove parkrun launch

Oh, and one more finisher, who has been visible in the news this week. She doesn’t appear in the official results from the day, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser was also among that first group. We appreciated her support then, and we have definitely been appreciating her support for the DMV community this week.



Muriel Bowser has had a busy week

Let them eat cake (donuts)!

You may be reminded of the words of an ill-fated monarch. Really not sure what made us think of that right now. But no, we’re talking about actual donuts.

Erin Munsell has the distinction of doing this week’s longest virtual parkrun at 17+ miles along Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park. When we saw this we immediately figured that Erin must be getting ready for a virtual marathon. But it turned out that she ran into Jen Murphy and Eliza Kempton part way through her run, and was talked into joining them for a run to DC for donuts. Brian Murphy shared pictorial evidence.

Kudos to Erin for such dedication to quality fueling. We also think it’s super cool to see that Erin can now just decide on a whim to do a 17-miler. Some of you may recall that when Erin first joined us in 2017 or so, it was her very first 5K. By the start of the pandemic she had completed her 98th parkrun. (We cannot wait to bestow the black sash on her later this year. Together with Judy Barnes, also currently stalled at 98.) She has come a long way!



Yes, anywhere

Some of you were discovering cool new places to run or walk this week.

Neha Joshi and Yogarshi Vyas headed over to Greenbelt National Park to run the Perimeter Trail for the first time, and decided that it was the most fun workout they had done in ages.


Andres Mbouh did a long run from Georgetown to Bethesda (and back) on the Capital Crescent Trail. That’s the right way to do it, as you get to enjoy the smooth downhill on the return journey.


Andres at the tunnel on the Capital Crescent Trail

Meridith Phillips mostly had ocean foam for company on her beach run in Nags Head, NC.


Wait, that's not Meridith, and that's not the Atlantic Ocean -- that's her sister Adrien, by a creek in Columbia, MD

Most “interesting” route of the week may go to Marianne Poon, who ran laps of the parking garage in her building to stay warmer. Marianne narrowly edged out John Maneval, who appears to have been conducting a detailed survey of the parking lot at the Navy Stadium in Annapolis.


Interesting choice of route, John!

Cindy Cohen was back in the mountains in Sandpoint, ID. The first half of her 5K climbed 560 feet in 1.6 miles. In the snow. Which prompts the question: is this the steepest first half of a parkrun that we know of?


That looks steep!

Answer: yes, probably. But it’s very close. Cindy’s route climbed 350 feet per mile for the first mile and a half. By comparison, the regular route of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller parkrun in Woodstock, VT climbs 360 feet in the first 1.1 miles, for a rate of 330 feet per mile.

We highly recommend a visit to MBR parkrun if you’re ever in Vermont. And as it happens, Derek Symer is there right now, hibernating in neighboring village of Queechee, from where he checked in for his virtual parkrun this week. We’re not sure if the regular MBR route is open in the winter months, though, as it is sometimes groomed as the local XC ski trail.

Milestones and More

This week we welcomed TWO first-timers. Xinzi He has been a regular CP parkrunner and volunteer, but this was her first virtual run. Lesley Mayhew was walking the trail for the first time, as far as we know, helping to ensure that husband Stewart behaved himself. Stewart fell on ice and fractured his arm a couple of weeks ago, and so he is grounded from running for a few weeks, but was still enjoying the trail. Speedy recovery, Stewart!


One year ago

THREE new 5-timers earned a high five badge: John Rigg, barkrunner Belle, and Christina McNamee-Mahaffey. John represents District 3 on College Park City Council. Yet more evidence that we have healthy leadership in College Park. And Christina celebrated her 5th CPVp by joining the virtual volunteer crew for the first time.

We awarded FOUR new ten-timer turtle badges: Maria Cecil, Andrea Maas, Kat M, and Pam Marcus.

Maria was part of the crew who attended the first ever parkrun in DC 5 years ago this weekend. Pam first joined us on our big Memorial Day weekend event in 2017 when parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt joined us. Pam went on to become founder of Kensington parkrun, and she’s looking forward to picking up on the momentum that she had built before the pandemic. And Andrea is a parkrunner who has never been able to join us in person. But we hope that once we’re back in person she’ll be able to make the journey up from Greensboro, NC to visit us (and Carly, of course).

Finally, we had TWO new 25-timers this week in Janet Grudzien John and Peter Rosenberg. Janet helps to keep us salivating over her oceanside pictures. Back in the spring she was joining us from Newport, RI, but these days she’s based in Honolulu, HI, making her easily the westernmost CP virtual parkrunner. And a special shout out this week to Peter Rosenberg, who set a new PB of 24:59, running with dad Brian and mom Jessica in Mechanicsburg, PA. Peter is 9 (or so) years old, and he’s clearly gaining in speed.


Janet wasn't feeling the cold like those of us in the DMV

One additional mention this week for Dale Morey, who has been quietly gaining fitness. He came out to the Paint Branch Trail this week and ran the regular 5K course exactly one second faster than his PB for CP parkrun. Nice job, Dale!

Virtual Volunteers

A shout out to this week’s 8 virtual volunteers, who helped to keep the show on the road.

Angela Gentile: picture collector
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava)
Andrea Maas: cheerleading
Christina McNamee-Mahafey: results (Facebook)
Tara Mease: results czar
Colin Phillips: propaganda, facts, figures, and words
Anna Tinnemore: results (form)
Andrea Zukowski: email and photography

Special kudos to two new virtual volunteers this week. Christina McNamee-Mahaffey helped with results, and Andrea Maas (a.k.a. Carly’s mom) joined us from Greensboro, NC for some virtual cheerleading. Also, it was Andrea’s 10th CPVp, so she earns a cute ten-timer turtle badge in our weekly results sheet.

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? Drop us a line at if you can help.


Christina and barkrunner Lucy on the Paint Branch Trail, one year ago


It was a good day for the barkrunners. Actually, EVERY Saturday is a good day for the barkrunners, as they love getting moving outdoors with their humans.

We’ll just go with picture captions this time ...


Congrats to Scruffi on his first 5K. Not bad for a 13-year old dog.


Anna Weber stopped along her route to say hello to "my favorite neighbor"


Barkrunner Seneca enjoying the snow in West Virginia (with Anne Baum)


Belle and Tuffi on their run with Gloria in Rehoboth. They could be good sled dogs.


Um, barkrunners don't fit so well on a treadmill. (h/t Teresa Perdomo)


So now do we get to swim?


Shackleton joined the social-but-distanced-unless-you're-a-barkrunner coffee hangout


Eli checked out some graffiti. How do you expect us to Google that, Eli?

Looking Back

This weekend 3 years ago in 2018 was probably the coldest ever day for College Park parkrun. The northern US was in the grip of a polar vortex, and morning temps were around 5-10 degrees.

There were just 42 finishers on that day, One of our concerns on that day was to help keep volunteers warm. So we drove the CP parkrun minivan up to the start, and had volunteers take turns thawing out inside.


Our coldest Saturday ever, January 2018

Looking Ahead

We have two thoughts this week that connect to the broader forces in the news this week.

First, on the coronavirus, it’s going to be a long time before we can come together again, notwithstanding optimistic predictions about a spring return in the UK in this week’s parkrun podcast, and suggestions about the US and Canada having promising vaccination programs.

Maryland took significant steps to speed vaccine delivery in the past week. The peak of 15,000 doses/day is almost 50% higher than the best days one week earlier. But, to put this in perspective, the state would need to be delivering 30,000 doses/day right away, in order to get the job done by the end of 2021. Or 50,000 doses/day, in order to get the job done by late summer. And that’s if the targets are reached right away, and if they are met 7 days per week (they are not).

We have a long way to go.


Barkrunner Shackleton captures the sentiment

Second, the breakdown of society. If you’re like us you’ve probably felt frustrated and despondent at some point recently. It can seem overwhelming. And for some of us, physically threatening.

It’s far beyond the scope of our little run/walk report to tackle what ails American society. But we can point to one thing that keeps coming up in discussions of what has gone wrong: the changing media landscape. People connect differently, they communicate differently than they used to. Even before the pandemic, we regularly heard about the demise of local newspapers, the rise of nationalized and global social media, and the sorting of people into ever tighter bubbles of like-minded people.

The pandemic has made this only worse. It’s great that we can connect with family and close friends far away. But we’re less aware than ever of those around us.

One of the things that we have loved about the growth of the College Park parkrun community is how it has helped bring together people who would have never met otherwise. We’re always looking to be more inclusive. But we are happy with the progress that we have made over the past 5 years.


We’re also very happy with the way that we have been able to keep supporting one another during the pandemic, via our new virtual community. We love that this has removed some barriers to participation. We are thrilled that the community now includes friends and family who are far away from our geographic base.

But there has also been a loss. Despite the large numbers every week, we are well aware that we’re not reaching everybody who we could serve through the in-person events. We’re less beneficial to children and teens, we’re missing some parts of the local population, we see fewer first-timers than before. And it is easy for us to recede into our communications bubbles. It’s good that we can be flexible, reaching some people via Facebook, Strava, or email. But these different channels bring greater fragmentation.

We long for when we can just talk to real humans in a park again. And we’re going to want to talk a lot.

Things will get better. We’re sure of it. And we will appreciate what we have even more for having missed it for a long while.

Until next time!

Your CPVp Team



Elmer Hernandez checked in from Orlando, FL this week




John Ramsey was so well wrapped we barely recognized him. ... Just kidding. Once you've done 100 parkruns, we recognize your gait.


Street art on Cory Kind's run in Detroit


Colin managed to run-walk the whole 5K without getting more injured this week. Win!



Welcome back from NC, Carly!


Come Rain or Shine (Virtual Report 37-38)

With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday this year, we held two CP Virtual parkruns on consecutive days. So this is a report on both of them.

The last time that we held events on consecutive days was at the end of 2016. A lot has changed since then. Christmas Eve 2016 saw our smallest ever field, with just 24 joining us on a soggy morning in College Park. New Year’s Day 2017 was mild and dry and more than four times as many joined us. Big fluctuations were the norm.

Not so as we start 2021. January 1st was soggy and grey. January 2nd was glorious. You definitely noticed. But it didn’t make a whole lot of difference to how many got outside and got moving for CPVp #37 and #38. Why so? Partly because we’re not all in the same place these days, so somebody’s sure to have good weather. But mostly because at this point in the pandemic, we’re appreciating our outdoor time more than ever and are just getting out and getting it done, whatever the weather.

With close to 200 taking part both days, you shared a lot of good things with us this week. So let’s do this!



Andrea Solan was getting it done in very different weather on Friday and Saturday 

Facts and Figures

  • 367 virtual parkrunners (187 + 180)
  • 1350 miles covered (650 + 700)
  • 36 first-timers
  • 6 new HIGH FIVE badges earned
  • 7 new TEN TIMER TURTLE badges earned
  • 5 new 25-TIMER badges earned
  • 33 barkrunners (16 + 17)
  • 12 virtual volunteers (6 + 6)

Stat(s) of the week: Just as we were putting the finishing touches on this week’s results tables, we heard from Clark Ridge, who encouraged as many family members as possible to share their activities for our New Years Virtual parkrun. A total of 17 family members joined in all, covering around 30 miles in 4 states (MD, DE, FL, UT).

Clark said: “That was fun and gave another great excuse to catch up with my siblings.” He added that there are many more Ridges out there. “I hope to encourage all 34 of us to participate somehow this year.”

So, surely Team Ridge had more participants than any other family this week? Well, on New Year’s Day it was no contest. But if we combine across the two days, it was a dead heat with Team Rosenberg, who had 8 humans and 1 barkrunner both days, for a total of 18, in five different states.




The Berwyn Heights division of Team Ridge. 17 virtual parkrunners on January 1st.

Happy New Year

We start with this picture from parkrun Deutschland, the folks who coordinate events throughout Germany. This week they wanted to wish everybody a happy new year. So they reached for a picture that exemplifies happiness. And chose this picture of Kim Nickens ringing the PB bell at College Park parkrun. We agree. It makes us feel happy too!



And a bonus - more of Kim's infectious smile. In a New Year's campaign sent to millions of parkrunners in the UK.

Rain or Shine

We were treated to a beautiful Saturday in the DMV. One of those days when it feels just wrong to be stuck inside. We loved seeing your pictures and stories. But it was even more encouraging to hear from all of you who were getting out there and having fun in the less-than-perfect conditions on Friday.

We had lots of pictures of soggy parkrunners in the rain. In multiple states.


Michael and Dinah Cohen were well equipped for the rain


Andrea and Brian Maas found the rain in North Carolina, too


More wet for New Year's Day in Ann Arbor, MI. Tricia and Matthew Jones were among the many Lillie parkrunners who did 10K on Friday to claim a NYD "double virtual parkrun".


Looks like Jackie and Kayla managed to get out ahead of the downpour in DC

In South Bend, IN Megan and Ben Gieske managed to sneak out on Saturday during the brief window when the sheets of ice had melted.

Mary and Amy Hicks had a backdrop of ice on the Rock River in Rockford, IL.


Ice on the Rock River for Mary and Amy Hicks in Rockford, IL

The winter weather was more appealing in northern Idaho, where Cindy Cohen combined treadmill running with a spot of cross-country skiing. (Yes, we have a policy on this. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing count for CPVp. But we want pictures! Or videos! Did you know that competitive snowshoe racing is A Thing? They’re fast!).


Meanwhile, Janet Grudzien John did her CPVp heading to and from a water aerobics session. That may sound like something for people who find a Polar Bear Plunge on NYD too easy. But Janet is in Hawaii, so this sounds quite lovely thank you.


Ok, we admit that we're just a little jealous

(Incidentally, we thought that virtual parkrunners are creative. But the Maryland Special Olympics is holding a “virtual polar bear plunge” right now, and the alternate PBPs that they show on their website are hilarious.)

Janet wasn’t the only one playing in the water. Meridith Phillips interrupted her CPVp along the beach in Nags Head, NC to watch dolphins dancing in the waves just a few yards from the shore.



Folks who headed out close to dusk on Saturday were treated to a spectacular sunset.


Many of you made the most of the holiday long weekend to enjoy wonderful parks and trails close to home.


#firstdayhike in Merkle Wildlife Refuge


Külli visited Big Pool on the C&O Canal

Urban Adventures

There are cool things to see in town, too.

David Lai and Malik Al-Jame combined their CPVp with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s annual Fresh Start 5K, running along the Metropolitan Branch Trail. (Malik was excited to run his first non-solo 5K time trial since before the pandemic. David pulled him to a PB, and to our fastest CPVp of New Year’s Day.)


Metropolitan Branch Trail for the FitDC Fresh Start 5K

Fun fact: back in 2017 when we held our first New Year’s parkrun in College Park, we started the day with the mayor’s Fresh Start 5K, which that year was held at Hain’s Point. It was fun to see how the equipment for the first event required a convoy of trucks, while our equipment for the second event fit into a few bags in the trunk of our minivan. (Not counting the cake, which was carefully guarded up front.)


Fresh Start 5K in 2017. Andrea warms up with parkrun tourist Norm Driskell from London, ahead of the first College Park NYD parkrun

Stefano Gazzano enjoyed a run around his home town of Civitavecchia, near Rome, Italy. Normally this port town would be buzzing, but Italy has imposed tight lockdown restrictions over the holidays, so it was more of a ghost town.


Hannah Russell took in some history for her New Year’s CPVp, enjoying a virtual tour of embassies along Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC.


And every day is a school day for barkrunner Eli, who discovered a sign along the Trolley Trail in College Park about Reed Whittemore, a poet Laureate of the United States who made College Park his home, and who apparently was the college mentor of Garrison Keillor. We had no idea!


College Park's literary history

Coming of Age

A special welcome this week to young Nick Gerbig, who is barely one month old, and got outside in the stroller with mom Jessica for his first CP Virtual parkrun. Kudos to Jessica for getting moving again, and thanks also for keeping the fire burning for trying to start a (post-pandemic) sister event in Anne Arundel County.


Welcome Nick!

A little older, but also deserving of special kudos is Danny Walker, who ran the Paint Branch Trail for his CPVp on January 1st, which also happened to be his 50th birthday. Danny is a regular parkrunner and a regular volunteer. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, he would have easily earned his red 50 shirt and a purple V25 shirt by now. Danny even spent a few weeks as Hump’s stunt double during 2019, when Hump was sidelined. Danny even arranged the beard and the red truck, for authenticity.


Happy 50th birthday, Danny!


Milestones and More

Between Friday and Saturday we had many milestones to celebrate. (Really, we’re happy to see these when we pick through the results spreadsheets.)

FIVE people earned a cake badge for their 25th CPVp, taking us to a total of 107 25-timers: Nick Huang, Anna Weber, Dagny S., Gail S-T, Judy Mason.

Nick was part of the founding team of College Park parkrun back in 2016. It has been great that the virtual events have allowed him to join us regularly from his current home in Connecticut, often also as a volunteer.

Anna was part of a group of Roosevelt Island parkrunners who enjoyed a socially distanced stroll around the island and an outdoor coffee in Rosslyn. They’re looking to make this a first Saturday of the month thing. If you haven’t visited Roosevelt Island, it’s a great place to do your CPVp some time.



Judy is an Aussie who is one of the stalwarts of Kensington parkrun. We’re delighted that she has been able to ‘join’ us regularly since the early summer.

Dagny is making a comeback after recovering from all the miles he did leading up to his fall (virtual) marathon. And Gail can be found somewhere along the local trails every Saturday morning, generally leading a posse of smiling friends from Prince George’s Running Club.

SEVEN earned 10-timer turtle badges: Diana Claros, Gifford (barkrunner), Mary Hicks, Dustyn Kujawa, Maia Swisdak, Diane Rosenberg, and Violet Ridge.

Mary is Patrick Wojahn’s aunt, and joins us regularly from Illinois. Diane is Duane Rosenberg’s sister-in-law, and joins us regularly from Iowa. Gifford gets dragged out by his human, Dan Owen, who is event-director at Fletcher’s Cove parkrun. Diana only had one opportunity to do CP parkrun before the pandemic, but we hope she’ll be able to join us in person again once that’s possible. Dustyn is no longer on the College Park City Council, but we were appreciating her and other local officials on Saturday when the “water features” on the Paint Branch Trail led many to explore the new College Park Woods connector trail to make up extra distance.

We’re really happy to see Violet and Maia do their 10th CPVps, both as part of family adventures. But honestly, Violet and Maia are from a group that we’re failing to serve well during the pandemic. Violet has done 73 parkruns, and right before the pandemic she turned 11, earning the right to run with any of her CP parkrun friends, instead of needing a parental chaperone. Maia was a regular walker/runner and volunteer and earned her 50 shirt one year ago. We loved seeing them and cheering for them most weeks on the trail. We look forward to being back in a format where we can support these young folks better than we do now.

Another SIX earned 5-timer high five badges: Rose (barkrunner), Jenna David, Andrea Solan, Sarah Puro, Marilyn Langley, Nathan (barkrunner).

Jenna and Rose are part of the big Team Rosenberg crew, who between them accounted for 18 CPVps between Friday and Saturday.

Kudos to Marilyn, Louise Godley’s mum, for keeping walking in the face of a troublesome knee and a surging virus in Chelmsford, UK. Last year Louise was back visiting for the holidays, and she was part of a field of 1,000 for the NYD edition of Chelmsford Central parkrun. Hopefully next year again. But for this year it was good that Marilyn and Louise (and Anne) could all take part virtually.


Hopefully Louise and Anne can make it to England for the holidays next year

And over the two events we welcomed a total of THIRTY SIX first-time CP virtual parkrunners.

Tricia Jones, Lynn Boven, Matthew Jones, Sara Woodward, Robert Slack, Roscoe (barkrunner), Dinah Cohen, Michael Cohen, Charlie (barkrunner), Marie Reske Hamlin, Lucy (barkrunner), Paul Horrocks, Rajiv Kumar, Vanessa Clarke, Scott Maxwell, Susan Gunn, Joy Kind, Patrick Sheridan, Persis Thorndike, Persis' pup (barkrunner), Cooper (barkrunner), Claire Alolga, Suzanne Alolga, Curtis (w/ Janel), Grant (w/ Janel), Kelly (w/ Janel), Teri Ramsey, Roxie (barkrunner), Andrew Ahn, Judy Reynolds, Andrew Ridge, Sarah Ridge, Ben Ridge, Josh Ridge, Julianna Moyes, Jeff Moyes.


Welcome first-time virtual parkrunner Susan Gunn!

Virtual Volunteers

We couldn’t be sharing all this if it wasn’t for the support of our virtual volunteers. Since Thanksgiving weekend we’ve now held 8 virtual events in 37 days with nearly 1500 activities submitted, reported, and illustrated. It’s fun, but it takes some keeping up with.

Thanks to this week’s crew. A shout out to Judy Barnes, who joined the results processing crew for the first time and was *great* at ensuring all names were spelled correctly, and noting possible alternate spellings that might elude Tara’s spreadsheet wizardry.

Judy Barnes: results (Facebook, Friday)
Katie Hirsche: results (Strava, x2)
Nck Huang: results (Facebook, Saturday)
Tara Mease: results czar x2
Colin Phillips: propagandist and data analyst
Anna Tinnemore: results (form, x2)
Andrea Zukowski: email, photography

Can you help out with CPVp in the coming weeks? In addition to the roles above, it can be very useful to have photo collectors and online cheerleaders. Drop us a line at if you can help.


Thanks to Anna for being part of the regular CPVp volunteer crew


One important constituency that was extra happy about the back-to-back CPVps was our barkrunners. With 16 on Friday and 17 on Saturday, we were spoiled for choice on puppy pictures.

Sophie got to enjoy a run off leash through the woods in Lancaster, VA. (We’re curious how this picture was taken.)


Off leash - perfect!

Eli got to visit with friends at the Discovery District Park on Saturday. He made no secret of how happy he was to see everybody.


Pleased to meet you!

Belle, Tuffi, and Scruffi enjoyed the seabreeze in their fur in Rehoboth Beach, DE. And Tuffi also got to run the Paint Branch Trail on Friday.


Shackleton was a little down the coast in Bethany Beach, DE, where he felt the call of the waves.


Shackleton wanted to swim

In Michigan Cooper enjoyed a run in the snow with his parkrun friends. Cooper’s human Lynn Boven is co-Event Director at Livonia parkrun, and he was the first person in the US to earn a 250 shirt. Cooper was there for most of those runs.


Cooper would blend right into to the snow without that green jacket

Pakora got to do a little swimming in Rock Creek. Somehow Pratyush and Megan were not persuaded to join him.


Pakora did get to go for a swim

And we got to meet this lovely barkrunner enjoying the Paint Branch Trail, with Ada Lee and Christina Ferguson. Sorry, we didn’t catch the name, but we sure hope to meet again.



Lizzie was out with her regular posse


Virtual barkrun tourism is a thing. Charlie admiring the boardwalk in Lillie Park, Ann Arbor

Looking Ahead

New Years is when we like to make goals. Things that we’d like to do better, or differently in the coming year.

We generally focus on things that we can control. Like eating green vegetables or stretching more. But this is an odd year, because the change we most want is one that we have little control over. We want to be vaccinated, healthy, and living a more ‘normal’ life. We don’t want to feel guilty about meeting other humans.

We remain optimistic that we will be back to weekly in-person events this year. But as of right now we’re less optimistic that this will happen anytime soon. It wasn’t that long ago that we were wondering whether we’d reach 50 CPVps, but that’s no longer in doubt, as is our guess of a May-June return. The coming weeks will show whether the pace of vaccinations across the US picks up from its very slow start.


Lori is on track to be among the first crop of CPVp 50-timers

Maryland’s BEST day yet saw around 10,000 shots delivered. At that rate it would take 1,000 days to deliver the like 10 million doses that will need to cover around 80% of the state population. (At that rate, the Purple Line might even be open before we’re vaccinated!)

So the first half of 2021 will likely involve a lot of remote-everything, a lot more isolation, a lot more families dealing with remote learning, a lot more struggling businesses (especially with UMD less likely to get back to normal before the fall). And there will be a lot more people getting sick and/or losing loved ones.


Outdoor coffee at The Board and Brew. Support local businesses (and bring a blanket)

So it’s as important as ever that we keep supporting each other to be a little more active, a little less isolated.

We can do this by making it as easy and fun as possible to get moving and stay connected. All that you are sharing contributes to this. It doesn’t have to be inspiring or unusual. Simply getting outside, in whatever weather, and cracking a smile makes a difference. Offering any kind of encouragement to others makes a difference too, whether it’s through supporting a friend or family member, or offering online comments or kudos (e.g., via our Strava club). Or sharing smiles or chalk messages along the trail.

It also makes a difference when we show that it’s perfectly fine to go slow, or not very far, or to take a walk with your dog. It can be intimidating to join a group that has “-run” in the name. We wish that English had a good cover term for bipedal locomotion. We’ll celebrate with you if you meet a speed goal. But we’re just as happy if you’re a speedster who gets outside and takes your sweet time.


Scott Maxwell wondered whether his 5K was our slowest ever. The first 1.5 miles involved walking around his front yard removing Christmas decorations. Sorry, Scott. We think that distinction belongs to 102-year old James Wilson.

Our New Year’s Resolution for 2021 is to not lose sight of all the important things we learned during the pandemic once we’re able to go back to in-person events. Including all of the great people who we have met who are far from College Park but who are now very much a part of this community.

Here are some good things that we read or listened to recently. Thanks to the parkrunners who shared them with us.

Nurtured by Nature [Sadie Dingfelder, Washington Post, 12/28/20]. How the pandemic has intensified our connection to the outdoors. [h/t Rumi Matsuyama]

Creatures of habit [Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, 12/30/19]. It’s about making things easy and fun, rather than depending on willpower. [h/t Becky Widman]

With each run, a city shaken by racism is finding the greater good [Anna Katherine Clemmons, New York Times, 12/27/20]. An inspiring story of a running club in Charlottesville, VA.[h/t Pete Monacelli]

She turned 2020 misery into a breakthrough [Lindsay Crouse, New York Times, 12/26/20]. 37-year old Sara Hall turned a rough start to the year into something special.

We have no specific special events planned for the coming weeks. But with 6 virtual parkruns in January, it’s a good opportunity to keep working towards those 25-timer or 50-timer badges.


Janel had out of town visitors. She wanted to show them the DC highlights. So of course they started off with CP Virtual parkrun.

A parting thought

Thank you for all of your lovely emails and other messages. We’ll end this New Year’s Resolution double report with a message we received from Heather Sisan, who always shares something interesting when she emails us about her virtual parkrun.

“What a soggy day for a run! I did my usual 4.5 miles on Beach Drive today. The rain picked up while I was out and I was completely soaked by the time I got back. But here's the magic thing about running that I've learned in the past year: it makes you feel better:

if you're sad
if you need a reset after a tough week
if you have a problem you need to think through
if you're anxious
if you're cold from sitting at a computer too long
if you're looking forward to something and need to make the time pass
if you're glum about the weather
if you're trying to stay fit in a pandemic
if you're just fine at the moment but want something to boost your spirits anyway

It really does fit the bill no matter what, and I'm always glad afterward that I did it. Here's wishing health and happy trails to all in 2021!”


Until next time!

Your CPVp Team


One of Saturday's "water features" on the Paint Branch Trail


Malik on his second 5K of the weekend


Jen did a Virtual Pop Tart 5K run on Saturday. That pop tart does not look virtual.


Snow and ice around the U of Michigan campus for Emma Keer's Saturday walk


We love these Maryland-themed gloves. You can get them at Franklin's Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville.


New Year's baby!


Bud was on the Paint Branch Trail Friday and Saturday mornings


See you next Saturday


College Park Virtual Resolution Run/Walk

Hands up if you hope to be a little more active, and a little more connected as we leave 2020 behind and head into 2021? The College Park Resolution Run/Walk on January 1st-2nd is all about getting started on that goal.

Join us! Better yet, encourage family or friends to join, too, whether they’re part of your bubble or in far away places that you can’t visit right now.

Our virtual events are free, sustainable, and led by community volunteers. Our approach has already helped hundreds of people to keep moving and keep connected through much of 2020.

Don’t worry that you’re “not yet fit enough” to join. If you can walk around the block, then you’re ready!

Friday January 1st: New Years Resolution Run/Walk (CP Virtual parkrun #37)
Saturday January 2nd: College Park Virtual parkrun #38
… and every Saturday after that, at least until the end of the pandemic.


A virtual run/walk. Before the pandemic, College Park parkrun would offer free, weekly 5K events on the beautiful Paint Branch Trail in College Park, MD, every Saturday at 9am. We would always start the new year with an extra event on January 1st. On 1/1/20 hundreds gathered to kick off what we all hoped would be a year to remember. We were at least partly right about that!

College Park Virtual parkrun is a new free, weekly event that keeps us moving and connected during the pandemic. This community has come together -- at safe distances, from six feet to six thousand miles -- to provide support and encouragement. Unlike other virtual events there are no fees, no swag, and no prizes. The focus is on sharing stories, pictures, kudos, and motivation.

The community-first approach of College Park Virtual parkrun has been so well received that participation is even higher than in the regular face-to-face events, with 150-200 taking part every week. Most participants are in the College Park area and the DC metro region, but more and more regulars now “join” from as far away as Wisconsin or Berlin, Germany. Some locals also join when they are traveling.


Light at the end of the tunnel. We have many reasons to enter 2021 with optimism. But the next few months could be hard. All the more reason to support each other in staying active.

Participation is super simple.

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

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

Read about what went down. We collect activities, pictures, and stories and share them  through our social media and website. Check out our 2020 in Review story to see how we roll.


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

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


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

If you visit the Paint Branch Trail, you might also find encouraging chalk messages. Or you might pick up a stick of chalk and leave encouraging messages of your own. Or you might see some cool new signs that we placed along the trail, featuring some of our community volunteers.


Supporting local businesses. Each week we have a social-but-distanced outdoor coffee meetup. It’s a chance to safely chat with others while helping local businesses that could use our help in these difficult times. Winter Saturdays we use the Discovery District Park behind The Hotel at UMD, which is spacious and sunlit. The backup location, in case of rain, is the outdoor patio by The Board and Brew. Bring a mask and a warm jacket. Blankets recommended.

The fine print. There's more information on College Park Virtual parkrun in our blog post from Spring 2020: Introducing College Park Virtual parkrun.