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Clark: Bloomsday racer lets strength be her guide

Ah, Bloomsday.

Another mass of perspiring humanity pounds the Lilac City streets.

Another official T-shirt is disseminated to soak up some of the sweat.

And once again, Mandi Walters and Shannon Little plan to unleash their inner-crazies.

The loon factor. That’s one of the things I find endearing about our famed annual 7.46-mile run.

Sure, this may be a serious endeavor to the fleet of foot. But to many, the event is an opportunity for costumes and clowning.

Here’s how Mandi and Shannon do Bloomsday.

Mandi, a 30-year-old yoga instructor, ties a leg to one of Shannon’s gams using an aging gray sports bra for a rope.

Legend has it that said bra was discovered in the trunk of Mandi’s car when this three-legged ritual was hatched. That was about six Bloomsdays ago, added Shannon, a 29-year-old caregiver.

Did I mention that they perform their conjoined comedy as “Sillysally” and “Sillybilly” and wear wild outfits?

“Last year had a polka dot theme,” offered Mandi.

I laughed hard when a friend tipped me off about these two.

Little did I know that I’d also get choked up while ferreting out the rest of the tale.

More on that in a moment.

It should first be noted that being tied leg-to-leg hasn’t slowed these two athletic women as much as one might presume.

Shannon said they three-legged it across the line last year at around the hour-17 mark.

Not bad. It is, however, a long way off the record I set during my one and only Bloomsday appearance a few years ago.

I don’t want to brag. But I finished my race in, oh, maybe five minutes.

That’s how long it took me to run full tilt from the start of the race to a table inside the Spokane Club lounge.

Once comfy, I ordered a strawberry waffle and the first of a couple of stiff tequila sunrises.


True, Mandi and Shannon claim they actually finished the thing, while I didn’t get a T-shirt.

Details. Details.

But getting back to the story, when I first learned about these two, I was told there was a special reason why this year’s three-legged rite would be conducted at a much more leisurely pace.

Shannon is seven months pregnant.

Ah, a blessed event, I assumed, supplying the storyline I wanted to believe.

Life, however, isn’t always so linear.

During our interview, Shannon told me her baby, a girl, suffers from a severe chromosome abnormality. This has caused catastrophic defects. The baby isn’t expected to survive outside the womb.

All these truths, she said, were revealed over the course of one awful week.

Shannon decided to deliver her child. Trinity Phoenix. That’s the name she and her husband, Bradford, gave to their daughter.

I’m betting a lot people would forgo cutting it up at Bloomsday in the wake of such a devastating development.

This strong and amazing woman told me that she thinks of herself as being at a Y on a road.

“I can go left, which is hiding and being in this big secret,” she said. “Or I can go right, which is filled with joy.”

So what “better way than to continue this tradition of the ultimate silliness?”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at