February 25, 2014—With a little over two months before the 38th running of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, plans are well underway for yet another big crowd to take to the streets of Spokane. Over 8,000 runners and walkers have jumped on board since online registration opened on January 1, and a final tally of 50,000 is expected by race day. For those who didn’t join in the early surge, there’s still plenty of time to sign up for the popular 12-kilometer (7.46 mile) road race, which takes place on Sunday, May 4.
“We won’t know until race weekend exactly how many people will join Spokane’s annual celebration of health and community,” said Bloomsday Association President Steven Jones. “But whoever signs up will have the great joy of participating in one of those life affirming events that makes Spokane such a wonderful and special place to live.
Along with online registration, printed entry brochures will soon be available at hundreds of locations in the Inland Northwest. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 elementary school children have already begun getting in shape by participating in a Fit For Bloomsday…Fit For Life training program at one of over 70 participating schools in the region. The Fit For Bloomsday program is now in its 29th year. Kids in the program will be the first to receive the eight new Bloomsday “character cards” that will be introduced this year, beginning with Humun Gus (He’s Larger Than Life!) and Green Jean (Recycling Queen).The first set of trading cards were distributed last year, and the new ones will be available at the Bloomsday Trade Show as well as through the Fit For Bloomsday program.
Bloomies are encouraged as part of the registration process to support Bloomsday’s official 2014 charity, the NortheastCommunity Center. The NortheastCommunity Center focuses on health, education, economic development, social issues, and recreation. The support provided will help families throughout Spokane—especially those in the Northeast neighborhoods—become and remain self-sufficient. Entrants can support the NortheastCommunity Center by adding a donation when they sign up online or through the mail.
The Bloomsday experience this year will be similar to what participants enjoyed in 2013, with everyone starting on Riverside Avenue near Lincoln Street and finishing at the north end of the MonroeStreetBridge, just above the SpokaneRiver falls. Timing this year will once again be accomplished with the B-tag, the latest adaptation of RFID technology. The B-tag is embedded on the number itself and only has to be worn to work. To take advantage of the technology, participants this year will again be given a “Time Up Doomsday” in addition to their finish results after the run. The technology will also be used to match runners to photos taken near timing mats at the top of the hill and at the finish. And for the first time, all photos will be provided online at no charge, for posting to Facebook and other social media sites or to have turned into prints at a location of the participant’s choice.
Those entering online for this year’s Bloomsday Run, which represented over 83% of the field in 2013, will continue to enjoy features that are only available to online entrants. This 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 16,500 fans. In addition, online entrants can sign up later this spring to have to have their real-time results instantly broadcast to Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones as soon as they cross the finish line.
To help people get ready for this year’s 12-kilometer challenge, Bloomsday has once again partnered with Step Up and Go—a local non-profit organization which is encouraging area residents to engage in daily physical activity and healthier eating year-round—to offer training programs for Bloomsday participants. In addition, sign up for a national program, the Lydiard Running Wizard, is available during online registration. For those looking for a group of like minded folks to train with, Providence will once again organize free Saturday clinics at SpokaneFallsCommunity College, beginning on March 15:
Along with the run itself, this year’s Bloomsday weekend will feature the ninth annual Marmot March, a non-competitive one-mile kids’ event in RiverfrontPark on Saturday, May 3, the day before Bloomsday. The Marmot March is for children second grade and younger who run with their parents, and is sponsored by Franz Bakery. It is open for the first 300 children who sign up.
2014 also marks the second year of Junior Bloomsday for 3rd and 4th grade runners, who will race over the same one-mile route as the Marmot March. This competitive race will be open to the first 200 3rd and 4th graders who sign up. It will take place one hour prior to Marmot March in RiverfrontPark. Times will be recorded and T-shirts will be provided to all finishers.
Slightly older youth runners are encouraged to take part in the Bloomsday School Challenge, now in its fifth year. The School Challenge, which matches four-person competitive teams of teen runners from area middle schools and high schools, also allows fifth and sixth grade teams to enter in non-competitive divisions. The School Challenge is expected to draw as many as 75 teams.
Also on Bloomsday weekend, the Bloomsday Trade Show, which is held in conjunction with Check-In at the SpokaneConvention Center, will once again have a variety of displays and activities centering on health and fitness, including this year a giant heart big enough to walk inside. Those looking for memorabilia of their Bloomsday experience will find a variety of souvenir shirts and other items with the Bloomsday logo. These items may also be purchased during the online registration process. After the run most Bloomies enjoy gathering in RiverfrontPark, where a variety of post-race festivities take place, and where food will be available for purchase in the Bloomsday Food Court.
Bloomsday is proud of its efforts to be more environmentally sensitive, as demonstrated by the successful composting of over a ton of discarded water cups in each of the past five years. Bloomsday participants will once again be asked to help reduce, reuse and recycle as part of Bloomsday’s “Getting Greener” initiative. Finishers should look for and use the appropriate recycling and composting containers, which will be set up in RiverfrontPark for use after the run.
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. Bloomsday is a member of the PRRO Circuit of major prize money races, and as such supports national and international competition while working in partnership with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to promote a drug-free sport.
In addition to the elite racers at Bloomsday, 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 300 teams in the Corporate Cup, which is sponsored this year by Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists. Bloomsday has also been designated a championship race of the Road Runners Club of America this year. The RRCA will be holding their annual convention on Bloomsday weekend, with approximately 300 representatives of major running clubs from across the United States meeting to discuss an array of issues dealing with race organization and club management.
For those farther back in the pack, on-course entertainment and the cheers of spectators will make the journey fun and memorable. During its thirty-eight years 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 ’14, who help keep the Bloomsday entry fee affordable for families, include Washington Trust Bank, New Balance, Premera Blue Cross, Providence Holy Family Hospital & Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Franz Bakery, Fruit of the Loom, Sports Authority, Microsoft, The Inlander, Itron, Cinch, American Family Insurance, and Corporate Cup Sponsor Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists. These community minded sponsors are deserving of the thanks of all Bloomies. 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 ’14 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 15 to avoid the late entry fee of $35.00. In addition, two local Sports Authority stores will be taking entry forms from March 1 until the entry deadline of April 15, and online registration at the $17.00 fee will be available until April 20.
# # #