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Newcomers are surprised by twists, turns

Defining Bloomsday to foreign exchange students is not an easy task, said Lisa Williams, a 15-year participant who works in the athletics department at Eastern Washington University. It’s a race, a walk, a party.

Although she sometimes finds it difficult to put the essence of Bloomsday into easily understandable language, Williams has convinced a fair number of foreigners to take the challenge. “They love it,” she said.

To some first-timers, especially those new to the region, Bloomsday can be a bit hard to grasp. Elite international runners trod the same asphalt as chubby walkers whose typical training might involve walking to the fridge for another beer. With the infusion of new residents to the Inland Northwest, many participants wore curious smiles Sunday.

“We really didn’t hear anything about it ahead of time – we were just thrown into it,” said Angel Cheng, who moved to Spokane in December.

Cheng’s race partner, Erick Harada, had a relative who once finished Bloomsday. Shortly after crossing the finish line, Harada, a Washington State University student, said he was surprised by the light-heartedness of many participants.

“Definitely a lot of weird costumes,” he said.

Post Falls resident Bre Crawford had heard some stories about Bloomsday, but she never had an incentive to enter until this year. “It’s extra credit for my history class,” she said. “Our teacher runs every year.”

Crawford and her two friends said they weren’t prepared for the huge numbers of people in the event. The terrain was also a bit of a surprise, said Brystle Montee. “They told us it would just be one hill.”

The girls weren’t prepared for what they found standing atop the biggest of the hills. “There was a vulture – a huge vulture,” Miranda Gibbs said.