Late Bloomers Make Starting Line At Last Reasons Vary For Joining The Bloomsday Crowds
Kris Dinnison used to live in a warehouse near the Bloomsday finish line. She now lives in Peaceful Valley and can watch the masses pass by on the first leg of the race.
But one perspective she never has experienced is from the race itself - until this year.
“You know the whole town doesn’t do it because it’s a big town, but whenever I tell people I haven’t run Bloomsday, they look at me as if I’m crazy,” said Dinnison, a Mead High School teacher who has lived in Spokane almost 10 years.
With the 20th race set for Sunday, the course has seen 683,344 finishers.
Still, it is possible to find longtime Spokane residents who never have participated in Bloomsday. Those entering the fray for the first time in 1996 say they have been lured by friends, family and a renewed vigor to get in shape.
“Besides that, I want a T-shirt. I don’t have one yet,” said Ken Spiering, an artist who has designed five Bloomsday posters but will participate in the race for the first time Sunday.
Although no one knows how many Bloomsday entrants are rookies, simple mathematics indicates most of Spokane County’s 400,000 residents will be doing something else on race day.
Dinnison has an annual Bloomsday breakfast at her house. Once, she walked with friends to the starting line to carry home their warm-up gear and coats.
“I was claustrophobic,” she said. “I don’t like to do anything with 60,000 people.”
She will take the Bloomsday leap this year as a way to help her 53-year-old mother, who is training to walk Portland’s marathon. Taking on the 7.4-mile Bloomsday course together is one way to offer encouragement.
Family ties also drew artist Spiering to the race.
Spiering, 46, gains inspiration for his Bloomsday posters by watching from various angles along the route. Last year, he stood at the Spokane County Courthouse and mixed with the elite runners as they sprinted down Broadway.
This year Spiering, a Spokane resident since 1968, will be one of the pack. He will walk the race with his son, daughter and wife.
With his kids growing older, he sees Bloomsday as another way to cement family memories. “I’m just a guy whose going to join the spectacle,” he said.
He also sees Bloomsday as a way to shake off the winter blues. “I’m so sick of winter I’m having to burn the cat’s scratching pole up here in the studio to stay warm. I just want to do something.”
Rene Cochran, 35, graduated from Shadle Park High School and has lived in Spokane her entire life. She also has an aversion to crowds and has never been near downtown Bloomsday morning.
“My family, my sister, my Mom, they all walk it,” she said. “I haven’t. Mostly I’ve wanted to avoid the crowd. I’ve never watched it. I never wanted to deal with parking and all that stuff.”
Come Sunday, the Suncrest resident will be there.
Cochran went back to school at Whitworth College and is about to graduate with a degree in social work. She figured Bloomsday would be a fit start to a new effort at staying in shape.
She and a friend will walk the race. They’ve been getting in shape by circling the Whitworth campus every morning after their 10 a.m. class.
“It’s a getting-fit type of thing and an inclusion in the community,” she said. “I need a new T-shirt, too.”
Eileen Howie moved to Spokane the year before Bloomsday started. She signed up to walk one year but her daughter got sick. They went home before the race started.
Until this year, that was her Bloomsday memory.
Howie, who has walked the course every Saturday morning as part of a Holy Family Hospital Bloomsday training clinic, feels ready to tackle the real thing.
“I feel firmer. I’ve toned up some and I feel better already,” said the Washington Water Power Co. analyst.
The incentive for Howie was surgery she had a year ago. “I’m 51 years old and working on getting myself back in good health.”
She never thought it possible she could even walk the course. Her first chug up Doomsday Hill last week for a Bloomsday clinic was tiring, but rewarding.
And she’s already thinking about next year.
“I’m going to keep rolling,” she said. “I want to do better and be thinner next year.”