Maybe it's the mild winter weather, or maybe it's the fact that the only way to earn the coveted Bloomsday finisher shirt is by going the distance. Either way, entries for the 36th running of Bloomsday have been pouring in since online registration opened on January 1. And for those whose entries haven't been part of the early surge, there's still plenty of time to sign up for the popular 12-kilometer (7.46 mile) road race, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 6.
"We won't know until race weekend exactly where our numbers are going to end up,” said Bloomsday Association President Carol Hunter. "But based on early interest it's pretty clear that this year's Bloomsday is going to be another big one.”
Along with online registration, printed entry brochures will soon be available at hundreds of locations in the Inland Northwest. Meanwhile, over 8,000 elementary school children have already begun getting in shape by participating in a Fit For Bloomsday…Fit For Life training program at one of 80 participating schools in the region. The Fit For Bloomsday program is now in its 27th year.
Most of the Bloomsday experience this year will be similar to what participants enjoyed in 2011, with everyone starting on Riverside Avenue and finishing at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge, just above the Spokane River falls. But this year timing will be accomplished with the B-tag, the newest adaptation of RFID technology. Instead of removing the tag from the bib number and placing it in the laces of the shoes, participants will leave the B-tag on their bib numbers. Timing company EMMI believes the B-tag is even more accurate than the D-tag Bloomsday has used the past two years. And to take advantage of the technology, participants this year will be given a "Time Up Doomsday” in their results after the run.
Bloomsday has added additional technological enhancements to the experience this year. Online registration has been optimized to make registration smoother for smart phones and tablets, and QR codes on bib numbers will give a direct link to each individual's results beginning on Monday after the run. Entrants also have the option of purchasing digital training and finisher "medals” during online registration, which can be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
Another change this year will be with the Bloomsday School Challenge, now in its third year. The School Challenge, which matches four-person competitive teams of teen runners from area middle schools and high schools, will allow fifth and sixth grade teams to enter this year in non-competitive divisions.
To help people get ready for this year's 12-kilometer challenge, Bloomsday has once again partnered with Step Up Spokane—a local non-profit which is encouraging residents to engage in daily physical activity and healthier eating year-round—to offer training programs for Bloomsday participants. In addition, sign up for two national training programs—Focus-N-Fly and the Lydiard Running Wizard—is available during online registration.
Those entering online for this year's Bloomsday Run, which represented over 80% of the field in 2011, will continue to enjoy features that are only available to online entrants. That includes an email about a week before Bloomsday weekend letting them know their race number and the color of their starting group, as well as the option to keep family and friends together in the same starting group. Online entrants may also want to join Bloomsday's Facebook fan page, which currently boasts over 12,000 fans. Entrants can also sign up for regular tweets from Bloomsday's Twitter account.
Along with the run itself, this year's Bloomsday weekend will feature the seventh annual Marmot March, a non-competitive 1.2-mile kids' event in Riverfront Park on the day before the run. The Marmot March is for children second grade and younger and their parents,. The Marmot March is sponsored by Franz Bakeries and is open for the first 300 children who sign up.
Also on Bloomsday weekend, the Trade Show, which is held in conjunction with Check-In at the Spokane Convention Center, will once again have a variety of displays and activities for those interested in health and fitness. After the run participants can enjoy a variety of post-race festivities and food from the Bloomsday Food Court in Riverfront Park. For those looking for memorabilia of their Bloomsday experience,a variety of souvenir gear with the Bloomsday logo will also be offered during online registration and at the Trade Show.
After successfully composting over a ton of discarded water cups in each of the past three years, Bloomsday participants will once again be encouraged to help reduce, reuse and recycle as part of the Bloomsday's "Getting Greener” initiative. Participants are also encouraged to support Bloomsday's official 2012 charity, Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County. As a non-profit leader in youth development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County is dedicated to inspiring and enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Bloomies can support the Boys & Girls Clubs by adding a donation when they sign up online or through the mail.
While there have been many changes in Bloomsday in recent years, some things remain the same. Competition at the front end promises to be fierce, as world-class runners and wheelchair racers battle for prize money, which includes a $20,000 U.S. citizen's purse. In addition, top age-group runners will vie for medals, local stars will hope to earn a free trip to Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race, and businesses will scramble for top honors among over 250 teams in the Corporate Cup, which is sponsored again this year by Orthopaedic Specialty Clinic.
For those farther back in the pack, on-course entertainment and the cheers of spectators should help make the journey fun and memorable. During its thirty-six years on the Spokane scene, Bloomsday has become a favored spring gathering place for families and friends, most of whom complete the course and collect the coveted finisher's shirt, the color and design of which are kept secret until the finish line.
Major Sponsors of Bloomsday '12 include Washington Trust Bank, New Balance, Premera Blue Cross, Providence Holy Family Hospital & Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Franz Bakeries, Jerzees, Sports Authority, Safeway, Microsoft, The Inlander, Corporate Cup Sponsor Orthopaedic Specialty Clinic, and a new sponsor, Itron, who will also be on the bib numbers. Bloomsday is also supporting the efforts of the Spokane Regional Health District again this year by being designated an official tobacco-free event. As an event that promotes health and fitness, Bloomsday encourages participants and spectators alike to help keep all events and venues smoke-free on Bloomsday weekend.
Online registration for Bloomsday '12 is open at www.bloomsdayrun.org, and printed entry brochures will soon be available at locations throughout the Inland Northwest. The on-time entry fee for Bloomsday is $17.00 this year, the lowest in the nation for a major running event. Mailed entries must be postmarked by April 17 to avoid the late entry fee of $35.00. In addition, two local Sports Authority stores will be taking entry forms from now until the entry deadline of April 17, and online registration at the $17.00 fee will be available until April 22.
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