February 24, 2015—With a little over two months before the 39th 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 3.
“Our recent spate of warmish weather has naturally turned our thoughts to spring,” said Bloomsday Association President Steven Jones. “It also reminds us that Bloomsday will be here before we know it and with it an opportunity to share in this sense of rebirth, of life with 50,000 of your closest friends. Do something positive for yourself; set Bloomsday as a goal on your path to personal fitness. Do it for the first time, beat last year’s time or enjoy a stroll with a loved one. But, most of all, celebrate that sense of community, of Spokane coming together to share something unique and all too rare in this day and age.”
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 nearly 80 participating schools in the region. The Fit For Bloomsday program, now in its 30th year, is sponsored by CHAS Health. Kids in the program will be the first to receive the eight new Bloomsday “character cards” that will be introduced this year, beginning with Bruce Sprintsteen (“He was born to run!”) and Tia Shirt (“She finishes with style!”). For the third year the cards will be distributed through the Fit For Bloomsday program and available at the Trade Show.
Bloomies are encouraged as part of the registration process to support Bloomsday’s official 2015 charity, the Spokane HOPE School, an early learning program for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Entrants can support the HOPE School 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 2014, with everyone starting on Riverside Avenue near Lincoln Street and finishing at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge, just above the Spokane River falls. Timing 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. As in 2014, 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.
In addition to the free photos to download, this year Bloomsday will be partnering with Photoboxx to offer all participants FREE souvenir prints directly off their Twitter and Instagram accounts. Participants just need to include #BloomsdayRun in the description of their social media posts on Bloomsday, and Photoboxx will automatically print the photos and have them available for pickup at their booth in Riverfront Park.
Bloomsday is also working this year with Outside Interactive, a Hopkins, MA based technology developer that created the app “Virtual Runner,” which delivers a virtual race-day experience (video) that runners can enjoy during the other 364 days of the year. This new technology will allow runners to interactively train at their own pace for the big day with the use of their iPad, Windows or Android tablet on any treadmill in the world. Through the use of state-of-the-art cameras the HD virtual course videos will provide live footage of the 2015 Bloomsday course from a runner’s point of view. The free “Virtual Runner” app gives users the freedom to manually adjust the video speed to match the runners pace by minutes per mile or kilometer. By July, Bloomsday runners should be able to purchase the Bloomsday course video. Those on the course should watch for the Outside Intereactive Segway on race morning and cheer it on, so the final video will simulate the actual experience of running the course.
Those entering online for this year’s Bloomsday Run, which represented over 83% of the field in 2014, 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 18,000 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. And for those looking for a group of like-minded folks to train with, Providence Health will once again organize free Saturday clinics at Spokane Falls Community College, beginning on March 14.
Along with the run itself, this year’s Bloomsday weekend will feature the tenth annual Marmot March, a non-competitive one-mile kids’ event in Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 2, the day before Bloomsday. The Marmot March, traditionally for children second grade and younger who run with their parents, will be expanded to include 3rd graders, and will start an hour earlier (9:00 a.m.). The Marmot March is sponsored by Franz Bakery, and is open for the first 300 children who sign up.
Also on Bloomsday weekend, the Bloomsday 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 centering on health and fitness. 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 Riverfront Park, 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 six 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 Riverfront Park 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 the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, New York, and businesses will scramble for top honors among over 325 teams in the Corporate Cup, which is sponsored again this year by Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists.
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-nine 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 ’15, who help keep the Bloomsday entry fee affordable for families, include Washington Trust Bank, New Balance, Premera Blue Cross, Providence Health, Franz Bakery, Fruit of the Loom, Sports Authority, The Inlander, Itron, Cinch, BDO, 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 smoke-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 ’15 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 $18.00 this year, the lowest in the nation for a major running event. Mailed entries must be postmarked by April 14 to avoid the late entry fee of $35.00. In addition, three area Sports Authority stores will be taking entry forms from March 1 until the entry deadline of April 14, and online registration at the $18.00 fee will be available until April 19.
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