January 16, 1998 in Nation/World

Bloomsday Shifts Course For Project River Park Square Forces Change In Race’s Finish Line

By The Spokesman-Review

The world’s largest timed road race no longer will finish next to Riverfront Park and the bronze statues commemorating runners of Bloomsday.

Because of the construction of River Park Square and the closure of Post Street, the Bloomsday finish line has been moved to the front of the Spokane County Courthouse on Broadway.

“I think it will be a spectacular finish,” said Don Kardong, a 1976 Olympic marathon runner who is considered the father of Bloomsday.

Bloomsday’s board of directors contemplated numerous locations for the finish, including in front of the Spokane Arena and the Flour Mill on Mallon. The new route is considered a long-term change by race organizers.

With the new finish, spectators will get ample opportunity to see runners duel to the end as they charge down more than a mile of straightaway on Broadway, Kardong said.

The race’s old route came down Broadway, past the courthouse and continued to Lincoln. At Lincoln, runners turned south, crossed the Post Street bridge and then the finish line.

Kardong said the race finish might be a little more strenuous for some runners this year because they won’t be able to run downhill on Lincoln past Salty’s.

To make up for the half-mile of asphalt lost by moving the finish line, organizers added a few twists in the route after Doomsday Hill.

Also known as Pettet Drive, Doomsday Hill comes at the 5-mile point of the 7.46-mile race. Last year, runners came to the top of the hill, went southwest briefly on West Point Road, then headed south on Nettleton.

This year, runners will go one block farther on Pettet and then turn west onto Mission. They’ll follow Mission onto Summit Boulevard, then turn south on Lindeke.

Runners will follow Lindeke and then turn east on Broadway for a straight shot to the finish.

Finishers will be funneled down Monroe, east on Spokane Falls Blvd., and then into Riverfront Park. T-shirt stands will be set up on the Monroe Street bridge.

“Our intention is to get people back to downtown and into the park,” said Tom Jones, a member of Bloomsday’s board of directors.

Since Monroe will be for pedestrians only, race coordinators recommend people not park in lots south of the courthouse.

“They’ll be trapped, there is no way out,” said Al Odenthal, a Spokane police officer and member of the Bloomsday board.

The start of the race and its first two miles have also been altered.

In the past, runners went down Riverside and Clarke avenues during the second mile. They merged just before Marne Bridge over Latah Creek.

The “merge” and the narrow bridge caused a bottleneck so severe that runners came to a near halt waiting to cross.

This year, the Clarke Avenue route has been eliminated.

On May 3, runners will line up on three streets in downtown Spokane: Sprague, Riverside and Main.

At 8:40, 8:41 and 8:42 a.m., wheelchair racers will leave on Riverside at Washington. At 8:45 a.m., the elite women runners will leave from the same spot, followed by the elite men and invited field at 9 a.m. Behind them, will be roughly 10,000 runners in the yellow group - the fastest non-elite entrants of an estimated 60,000 participants.

Runners are grouped by color based on how quickly they are expected to complete the course.

Following the yellow group will be 10,000 green runners. An estimated 3,000 Corporate Cup runners and second-seed runners will also start at 9 a.m., but they will run down Sprague.

At 9:10 a.m., 25,000 orange and blue runners - who will have been waiting on Main - depart. Prior to their start, they will be walked - and race organizers emphasize walk - around the corner of Main and Stevens. Walking south on Stevens, they will go to Riverside and officially start the race.

In the past, tens of thousands of runners started on Main and followed the street directly into Peaceful Valley. No more. Race organizers worried the barricades on the north side of the Federal Building and a wooden walkway by the River Park Square project would be hazardous.

At 9:20 a.m., the last 10,000 runners will start. This group, which includes people with baby strollers and wheelchair entrants with assistants, will have been waiting on Sprague. They will run down the street until it merges with Riverside.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Map of new Bloomsday course

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