Spokane, WA—After two straight harsh winters that resulted in increased numbers of entrants, organizers are wondering what impact the mild winter of 2009-2010 will have on participation for the 34th running of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 2. At the end of January, over 3,000 people had already signed up, three times the number of a year ago.
“Our field increased by well over 3,000 entrants in both 2008 and 2009,” said Bloomsday Association President Jerry O’Neal. “We thought tough winters were actually helping increase participation, but this year it’s looking like our unusually mild winter is having an even more dramatic impact.”
Online registration has been robust since opening on January 1, and sign-ups show no sign of slowing down. Along with online registration, printed entry brochures will soon be available at hundreds of locations in the Inland Northwest. Meanwhile, more than 7,300 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 25th year.
Most of the Bloomsday experience this year will be similar to what participants enjoyed in 2009, with everyone starting onRiverside Avenue and finishing at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge, just above the Spokane River falls. An estimated two dozen performers will keep things lively along the 7-1/2 mile route, and organizers are using a new timing system called the D-tag to accurately time every entrant from start to finish.
Two new events—The Bloomsday-Hoopfest Team Championship and the Bloomsday Teen Challenge—should add some zest to competition in the streets of Spokane. The Team Championship will answer the question of which group of four athletes can combine footspeed and stamina with the ability to pivot, jump and shoot with precision. The Teen Challenge, meanwhile, will match teen runners from area middle schools and high schools to see which team can finish the race with the lowest total time.
Those entering this year’s Bloomsday online, which represented 74% of the field in 2009, 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 3,000 fans.
Along with the run itself, this year’s Bloomsday weekend will feature the fifth 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, and it includes an .8-mile route for those wanting a shorter trek. The Marmot March is sponsored by Franz Family 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, participants will once again be able to purchase personalized Bloomsday souvenir gear from VictoryStore.com. This means they can individualize apparel with a name, company, number of Bloomsdays run, and other information. A wide assortment of souvenir gear with the Bloomsday logo will also be offered online, and a special environmentally friendly shirt made of recycled polyester with bamboo charcoal will be available for purchase during online registration and at the Trade Show.
After successfully composting over a ton of discarded water cups last year, 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 SNAP—Spokane County’s Community Action Agency—which is Bloomsday’s official 2010 charity. SNAP serves the low-income, homeless and vulnerable in the community with over 35 different programs. Bloomies can support SNAP 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 racers and wheelchairs battle for prize money, which includes a $20,000U.S. citizen’s purse that was added in 2009. 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-four 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 for Bloomsday ’10 include Washington Trust Bank, New Balance, Premera Blue Cross, Franz Family Bakeries, Fruit of the Loom, Sports Authority, Safeway, Microsoft, Travelers Insurance, GD-Itronix and The Inlander, as well as Corporate Cup Sponsor Orthopaedic Specialty Clinic and Results Sponsor Providence Holy Family Hospital & Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. 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 ’10 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 $15.00 this year, the lowest in the nation for a major running event. Mailed entries must be postmarked by April 13 to avoid the late entry fee of $30.00. In addition, two local Sports Authority stores will be taking entry forms from now until the entry deadline of April 13.
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