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Blue skies and the thunder of running shoes

Spokanites are pretty pale after the long winter and chilly spring. So Group Health volunteers are spraying sunscreen on those in need where the course passes Spokane Falls Community College.

With the temperature approaching 50 by midday, hard-working Bloomies were exposing a lot of skin.

“I saw a guy wearing underwear — just underwear,” said 10-year-old Shawn Jones, running his fourth Bloomsday.

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No Nikes or Bloomsday t-shirts for Adrienne Bousquet. She was posted at Mile 6 in a red sequined dress and silver heels, singing classic American tunes like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

This is not Bousquet’s first Bloomsday gig. Out of the 27 groups or individuals who garnered votes for best course entertainment in 2009, she placed second, winning $300. It would have been hard to beat that year’s patriotic favorite, Wingspan, the Air National Guard Band of the Northwest.

According to the Tri-Cities Herald, Bousquet was named Miss Tri-Cities in July, after impressing the judges with her rendition of “Can I Steal a Little Love,” an old Frank Sinatra favorite.

You can watch a clip of her singing “Fever” at the 2009 Bloomsday here: http://bit.ly/mCkpkv

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Lilac Bloomsday Association reports that 56,640 people registered for today’s event. That’s the most since 1996, and ranks eighth for all Bloomsdays, since the race started in 1977.

More statistics: The National Weather Service reports an 8 a.m. temperature of 36 degrees. That makes this the second-coldest year for those who arrived early for the start of Bloomsday.

According to the Lilac Bloomsday Association website, only 1988 had a colder temperature at 8 a.m., with 34 degrees.

Luckily for participants, the temperature rose signifiantly when the morning fog lifted.

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Sure, April was miserable. But all that’s forgotten as this Bloomies enjoy perfect May Day weather. Downtown trees are blooming with sweatshirts and other discarded clothing, and some male runners already are shirtless.

“It’s like they planned this weather,” said Kelly Fletcher, 52, of Rock Springs, Wy., where today’s low was 22 degrees.

Fletcher came to Spokane to visit her son and daughter-in-law, participate in Bloomsday and watch Spokane Chiefs hockey.

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When you’re surrounded by 40,000 people and want to stand out, you can either run with the elites or wear something attention-grabbing. Thus, 14-year-old Corbin Breithaupt of Spokane donned a pink wig for his first-ever Bloomsday.

“I wanted people to see me and I’m not much of a runner,” Breighaupt said.

Twelve-year-old Colby Aitchison, meanwhile, wore a “Waldo” costume. All over the course, he said, people kept announcing that they had found him.

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No one’s going to give Sara Kimball grief if she doesn’t match her personal best Bloomsday time.

“I wanted to run it when I was pregnant,” said Kimball, 26, who is just a few weeks away from giving birth.

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Karen Fall and Michael Smith love each other.

They love Bloomsday.

So shortly before 8 a.m. this morning, in front of the yellow starting area on Riverside Avenue, the Seattle couple married.

She wore a long white veil in her ponytail, he a black tuxedo bow tie.

Presiding Rev. Ralph Fishburn read vows laced with race references.

“And just as today you will conquer these hills, foil the (Doomsday Hill) vulture and emerge onto a level road, so it will be with your marriage if you tackle the hills and challenge together,” he said to the couple, and the dozens of racers already stacked up in the starting area.

Both threw bouquets back into the applauding crowd.

Smith said the two renewed an acquaintanceship after divorces, and found that running was something they had in common.

They ran in races all over the Northwest, gradually building up to Fall’s first marathon.

They most enjoy Bloomsday, he said, so when it getting married, they decided to do it before their favorite run.

Despite vows of togetherness, and a common start in the yellow zone, he said they will run their own races, with his post-finish assignment a table at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub, where the couple will have a Guinness before returning home.

Twelve kilometers behind them, a much longer road ahead.



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