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Attire, attitudes provide a running commentary

Shadle Park softball players Jesica Berlinger and Jennifer Schwartz distribute T-shirts to finishers.
 (J. BART RAYNIAK / The Spokesman-Review)
Shadle Park softball players Jesica Berlinger and Jennifer Schwartz distribute T-shirts to finishers. (J. BART RAYNIAK / The Spokesman-Review)

From Superwoman to Uncle Sam, from green Mohawks to the Blues Brothers, Bloomsday has a way of bringing out the whimsical side of participants.

Among this year’s entrants were The Blues Brothers. Channeling the soul singers Jake and Elwood were Spokane’s Paul and Tabea Wiersma, a father and daughter team.

They stood out from the pack in black hats, black suit coats, starched white shirts, skinny black ties and black shoes. Their sole costume deviation? Black shorts rather than slacks – a whimsical nod to the warm weather.

The two have entered their characters in the race for four years running, said Tabea Wiersma, a University of Idaho student.

“If you can’t win, you’ve got to stand out somehow,” joked her dad, relishing a peanut butter Clif bar while resting on a Doomsday Hill guardrail.

Also afoot: Uncle Sam; Superwoman wearing her red cape; three 5 1/2-foot tall salmon; a band of angels with wings of black feathers, pink fabric and synthetic white gossamer with silver glitter; a participant plastered in previous Bloomsday bib numbers; and an overheated young man in a gray Ghillie suit, which made him look like Bigfoot.

Race, rest, shop

After the race, a group of Canadian students from a rural school west of Edmonton donned their red 2008 Bloomsday shirts in Riverfront Park. The runners made a 13-hour bus ride from Stony Plain, Alberta, for the race – the third year the club, of the Ecole Meridian Heights School, made the long journey.

Chris Hallows, a teacher and club coach, said his experience with Bloomsday prompted the team trip.

“When I was in high school my high school did it,” he said. “I wasn’t much of a runner at that point, but I really fell in love with the run and the town and with running.”

The team was preparing for the return trip, but not immediately.

“We’re going shopping first,” said Courtney St. Amand, a 15-year-old team member.

Cruisin’ for a spankin’

The design of the annual Bloomsday T-shirt is a closely guarded secret – then suddenly the shirt is everywhere downtown.

This year’s shirt was red, with a colorful depiction of the runners in Riverfront Park. But a lot of people brought their own T-shirt messages to the race. Here are a few slogans spotted on shirts:

Bringing Sexy Back


Frankie Says Relax

Moms in Motion

Hippies Smell

Got Superpowers?

Vote or Die!

And then there was this – not a T-shirt, exactly. A man wearing a cowboy hat and little else had this painted on his chest: “Almost Naked Cowboy.” On his back: “Spank Me.” For those with limited spanking experience, an arrow pointed downward.

Supportive family

Before the starting gun, Floyd Brown was ready to walk the course with his five grandchildren and other family members. One grandson, 9-year-old Scott Brown, was bouncing with excitement.

“I’ve never done it before, and this is my first one,” he said. He pointed to his grandfather. “He’s probably going to have to carry me up Doomsday Hill.”

Human roadblock

Kennewick’s Mitchel Mueller, 12, had a wily strategy for the start of the race.

“Pass a lot of people,” he said. “Then slow down.”

Upper-body workout

Things Bloomies carry: Beach balls, the American flag, red pompoms, exhausted preschoolers, walkie-talkies, cameras, cell phones, aluminum hiking poles and CamelBak water packs for on-the-go hydration.

A painful realization

Overheard from a woman as she clutched her side and hiked Doomsday Hill: “Crap, I should have started training sooner.”