Ginny Warden, the oldest of 124 perennials who have participated in all 30 Bloomsdays, had announced Bloomsday 2006 would be her last. But after walking the course in less than 2 ½ hours, the 86-year-old South Hill resident has taken a never-say-never approach to 2007.
“I made it, I got my shirt, and I made it,” said Warden, who first ran Bloomsday at age 56. “It was my idea that I’d never do it again, but who knows?”
In celebration of her milestone, 14 out-of-town family members ran or walked Bloomsday this year, all wearing “Ginny’s 30th Bloomsday. May 7, 2006.”
However, because of her perennial status, Warden’s place among the 43,000-plus racers was near the front of the pack. Family members were slotted farther back.
“She said, ‘I’ll see you later,’ and she was off,” daughter-in-law Michele Hake said of Warden’s rabbitlike start.
Bloomsday officials said 173 people were disqualified for jumping in on the course or because of a chip malfunction. Race rules stated people would be disqualified for jumping ahead of their starting tag color, but according to Bloomsday officials, the 173 disqualifications were unrelated to that rule.
A Spokane couple with several Bloomsday races behind them saw the rain Sunday morning and decided to wear garbage bags over their running clothes to stay dry. It was a popular option for participants who didn’t want to throw worn-out sweat shirts into the trees lining Riverside Avenue.
Yet they were too embarrassed about their fashion decision to give their names.
“I refuse to identify myself as a garbage bag wearer,” the woman said.
A teenager got in a jam at the starting line when he couldn’t get his blue wind pants off over his high-top Nikes. He scuffled to the gate near the line and asked the timers for help. They shrugged and told him to take off his shoes. The boy looked panicked, so the timers told him not to worry because he hadn’t yet activated the chip.
“As long as he doesn’t get trampled,” the timer said.
The boy eventually sat down, untied his shoes, slipped them off and removed the wind pants. Then he slowly put back on his shoes as people ran just inches from him. As he took off over the start line, he threw the troublesome pants on the fence and didn’t look back.
Honoring a loved one
Lindsey Moll of Spokane ran in honor of her husband’s grandmother, Pat Moll, who died last year. Pat Moll had run every Bloomsday from 1978 until 2004. She even won her age group at the New York Marathon.
“I promised my husband I would do it for 30 years for her,” said Lindsey Moll, who safety-pinned a laminated card with Pat Moll’s name and photo on it to her shirt.
While warming up, Matt Cohen of Spokane took the opportunity to lobby for the preservation of the Rookery Block downtown.
A member of Spokane Preservation Advocates, Cohen pointed to the buildings and said they are a part of what makes downtown special. That would change, he said, if the buildings were demolished and the lots became parking areas.
“They have the start of Bloomsday downtown for a reason, it’s the heart and soul of Spokane,” he said. “There’s only a need for so many parking lots.”
One Bloomsday spectator went beyond encouragement as she cheered on runners in front of her home on West Broadway Avenue.
When a woman had to stop because of heat stroke, Stephanie Bering brought the troubled Bloomie into the house, got her something to drink and let her use the bathroom.
“Watching all the different generations go by is really cool,” Bering said afterward while waiting for her kids to run past.
A healthy outlook
Lorinda Travis of Loon Lake has run every Bloomsday since it started, and not even a 12-pound tumor removed from her abdomen last summer was going to stop her from running this year.
“I decided that first year that I would always run Bloomsday,” Travis said.
After nearly two weeks in the hospital she could only spend a few minutes on the treadmill. By October she should go a couple of miles, and by the time the perennials take their yearly jaunt through the course, she could do all of it.
“It’s been a great motivator for me,” Travis said. “I think Bloomsday has helped the health of everybody”
Shaking it up
For the third year in a row, those who made it to the last couple miles of the course were met with the exotic stylings of the Sisters of Selket belly dancing troupe from Coeur d’Alene.
“They love it,” said Dolores Wiesenhutter while a runner and another dancer circled each other on the course in front of cheering fans.
No appointment necessary
It was a slow year at the finish line medical tent.
About a dozen people came in with minor ailments varying from dehydration to a sprained knee. About 50 people were treated last year, said nurse Carole Stansberry.
She said the cooler weather probably helped this year, as does the desire to finish.
“A lot of people wait until they are done with the race and then they go to the hospital,” she said.
A T-shirt with heart
T-shirt worn by Abbie Pintar, 9, of Spokane: “Are you going to let a 9-year-old kid beat you to the finish line?”