May 9, 1995 in Nation/World

Computer Pulls Slow One On Runners

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Despite cool weather and recordbreaking running Sunday, the timing was just a little off for Bloomsday ‘95.

Because of a glitch, most Bloomsday participants will receive postcards listing their times as 30 seconds slower than they actually were. The times are listed correctly in today’s Spokesman-Review.

Organizers aren’t sure why the error occurred, but it most likely happened at the finish line.

“We’re still trying to figure it out,” said Karen Heaps, Bloomsday coordinator.

The first 164 men and the first 32 women were hand-timed. But times were off for those men clocking in slower than 44:03 and women slower than 51:17.

At first, Bloomsday officials didn’t notice the problem Sunday night. Then one person noticed his time was off by 30 seconds. Then another person noticed.

“We started random-calling people we knew,” Heaps said. “Everybody’s time was off by 30 seconds.”

By that time, volunteers at Medical Service Corp. already had processed the untimely postcards.

Still, 30 seconds isn’t that large an error considering that Bloomsday is the largest timed race around, said Cher Desautel, vice president of corporate communications at MSC.

“This is the only race (of this size) where all finishers do receive a time,” she said.

MSC is responsible for all the computerized times as well as race registration.

This year, 54,154 people finished Bloomsday - more than 1,000 fewer than last year and almost 5,000 fewer than had registered for the race.

A lot of Bloomies apparently rode the bus.

On a typical Sunday, about 3,500 people ride Spokane Transit Authority buses. But Sunday, 4,913 people used regular bus routes and 20,649 people rode buses to and from 10 special Bloomsday park-and-ride lots, said Teresa Stueckle, STA customer relations manager.


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