PHOTO CAPTION: Marcus Riccelli, then a staffer for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, runs the 2009 Bloomsday with Cantwell. Picture provided by Riccelli.
I got an unusual news release yesterday from state Rep. Marcus Riccelli.
Riccelli, D-Spokane, announced that his New Year’s resolution is to run Bloomsday. He challenged me to do the same.
“Today, the first day of the new year, I am committing to running Bloomsday in 2014 and am challenging Spokesman-Review reporter Jonathan Brunt to do the same,” Riccelli said in a new release before mocking the eating and exercise habits of politicians and journalists. “I think that both of us can set a good example for our colleagues and the public by participating in Bloomsday.”
I was too busy watching my alma mater win the Rose Bowl to respond immediately.
But I will accept the challenge today since I’ve participated in the last nine Bloomsdays and had planned to do so again. More importantly, the challenge is only about participation. I care about my Bloomsday time, but it’s not impressive. The only Bloomsday competition I care to have is with my previous times. (Also, I might be pushing a baby carriage this year.) The beauty of Bloomsday is that everybody who crosses the finish line is treated like a winner.
Riccelli’s challenge to me stems from this Spin Control post, in which I noted that none of the legislators who represent the Third Legislative District, which includes the Bloomsday course, participated in the 2013 event. (Campaigning on the sidelines doesn’t count.)
He is one of the three legislators who represent the Third. As the vice chairman of the house Healthcare and Wellness Committee, Riccelli said he’s hoping his challenge will promote exercise and healthy living. (A skeptic might wonder if it has more to do with it being an election year, but I digress.)
Riccelli acknowledges that he’s competitive by nature and says his goal is to beat Spokane Councilwoman Amber Waldref, who had the best time among elected leaders in Spokane County last year with a time of 1:07:39. (This does not include Rudy Peone, chairman of the Spokane Tribal Business Council, who ran Bloomsday last year in 50:55).
Former Third District state Sen. Lisa Brown responded to the Riccelli’s news release on Facebook and said she would also participate in Bloomsday this year even though she wasn’t the target of his challenge. Riccelli said that state Sen. Andy Billig, who now holds Brown’s old seat, has told him that he will participate, too.
Riccelli is a Mead High School and Gonzaga University graduate. He says he ran it often as a kid and has great memories of participating with his dad, but hasn’t done it much as an adult. Perhaps, he said, because he’d rather be running after something, like a basketball, then just running. (In his first year in the House, he organized bipartisan basketball matches among legislators).
His long absence from the Bloomsday course ended in 2009, when he ran it with his then-boss, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and in 2012, when he was a candidate for the seat he now holds.
Riccelli said he agreed to run in 2009 after Cantwell questioned if he would chicken out on the run. He said he was too competitive to run slower than Cantwell, but smart enough not to beat her. They both finished in 1:08:09, according to Bloomsday records. (But he actually beat her. He is recorded as coming in 5,619th place; Cantwell finished in 5,628th.) She hasn’t run it since.