This year’s Bloomsday race will be one runner short unless a thief has a change of heart.
Earlier this month, someone stole one of the rusty racers from the Bloomsday sculpture in Spokane’s Riverfront Park.
Park officials believe the theft occurred the night of Feb. 17 because someone reported the statue missing the next day.
“We want him back,” said Judy Quinlivan, Riverfront Park manager.
The stolen runner is modeled after a small boy. All that remains is the right foot, broken off at the ankle.
In a city where Bloomsday is religion - the May race generally attracts more than 50,000 participants - the theft was akin to heresy.
“Why? That’s the first thing that comes to my mind,” said Dave Randolph, maintenance supervisor for the park.
Thousands of Bloomies have had their photographs taken by the sculpture or have drawn inspiration from its molded steel. Runners and non-runners alike use the artwork as a meeting spot throughout the year.
“The Joy of Running Together,” by David Govedare of Chewelah, Wash., depicts 40 life-size people - 39 now - running onto Spokane Falls Boulevard from Post Street.
The work was erected in 1985 as a tribute to Bloomsday, the country’s largest timed road race and a Spokane institution for 21 years. Money for the sculpture was raised through donations.
Govedare, who used real people as models for the statues, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
In 1985, he inscribed his work with a passage that said the sculpture “represents people of all ages and nationalities creating a positive symbol by acknowledging the larger spirit of our community and the world.”
The stolen runner was modeled after David Meeks, in 1985 a boy of 5 or 6. His statue ran forever at the back of the pack, alongside one patterned after his godfather, the late Lawson Dee DeLauder of Stevens County.
Meeks and his family have since moved to California.
Park officials aren’t sure how the thief or thieves broke the statue loose. The sculpture is made of half-inch Corten steel, a copper alloy that is supposed to last for 1,000 years. “We felt the thing was fairly vandalism-proof,” Quinlivan said Monday.
Park maintenance supervisor Dave Randolph said the statue weighs at least 200 pounds and likely took two or more people to haul away. It’s the first known theft of one of the statues, Quinlivan said.
Randolph and other park workers searched the park and surrounding area but couldn’t find the missing runner.
Park officials hope the thief or thieves start feeling guilty and leave the statue in the park where it can be found. Failing that, Randolph hopes someone turns the bandits in.
“This isn’t something you just have lying around your house,” he said. “If they took it home, someone saw them with it or knows where it is.”
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