When five teachers and staffers and 20 students from Havermale Alternative High School wake up with tender legs the morning after Bloomsday, they’ll know to blame Bob Chadduck. He’s a math teacher at the school who came up with the idea that they should have a Bloomsday team this year.
“I have run something like 20 Bloomsdays in a row,” said Chadduck. “My last big run was the Sacramento Marathon on Dec. 6 last year. I qualified for the Boston Marathon by six seconds.”
Yet he wasn’t trying to project marathon dreams onto his colleagues and students when he brought up the Bloomsday idea sometime around New Year’s.
“It just fitted in,” said Chadduck. “A lot of people had New Year’s resolutions of losing weight and quitting smoking, getting healthier, that sort of thing.”
Everyone began training together, twice a week, around spring break.
“I don’t think any of us adults smoke, but some of the students do – or did,” said Chadduck. “They very quickly realized what a huge difference that makes when you are trying to catch your breath while running.”
When Don Kardong, founder of Bloomsday, heard that Havermale was trying to get students to run, he sent the school 10 free registrations.
“Staff got together and donated some money to help make sure students could do Bloomsday with us if they wanted to,” said Chadduck.
Soon, 20 students had signed up – they may run together as a group or with their families, or they can simply walk.
“My plan is to run part of it and walk part of it,” said Merrina Grace, 17, a Havermale student. “I’ve done Bloomsday before. I’ve walked it with my mom and I run with my nephews.”
Grace has stuck with training runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“My goal is to do it in two hours straight,” Grace said. “But mostly, it’s just fun. I’ll probably do it together with my friend.”
Spokane Public Schools sponsors three corporate teams: one is competitive and two are not. Qualification for the competitive team depends on speed and age group, but the noncompetitive teams are selected through an application process.
“We had about 10 teams apply this year, and we don’t just give it to the same team every year,” said Doug Wordell, Spokane Public Schools director of nutrition services and wellness program coordinator. “We look for the enthusiasm in the application and how are they going to be wellness cheerleaders for their school and the district. It was very clear that the team at Havermale wasn’t just doing this for themselves; they are really trying to get the students involved.”
The funding for the corporate teams comes from vendor fees collected at a wellness fair hosted by Spokane Public Schools once a year.
“We have a very small wellness budget and then the fees from this fair, where vendors pay for booths so they can meet our 5,000 employees,” said Wordell, adding that the main wellness sponsor this year is Snap Fitness.
“We really want our schools to participate in Bloomsday,” said Wordell.
Mary True, who teaches photography and video at Havermale, is one of the other teachers on the Havermale team.
“I’ve done everything running,” said True, laughing. “I’ve run Bloomsday and I’ve done it pushing a stroller. The year with the stroller I think we were among the very last people to cross the finish line.”
True said she runs to be a role model for the students.
“The students named our team the Pavement Stompers,” True said. “We are really proud of our team.”
It’s not certain if participating in Bloomsday will become a Havermale tradition, but it could happen, said Chadduck.
After a bit of conversation back and forth, True, Grace and Chadduck agreed on one thing:
“This year’s Bloomsday T-shirt is green. Pale green, like a celery green,” said True. “Well, no matter what color it is, we’ve asked our students to wear it the day after Bloomsday. That’s going to be very cool.”