Karen Fall and Michael Smith love each other.
They also love Bloomsday.
So shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday, 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.
The Rev. Ralph Fishburn read vows laced with road-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 challenges 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, so when it came to getting married, they decided to do it before their favorite run.
Twelve kilometers behind them, a longer road ahead.
Pale of the moon?
Spokanites tend to be pretty pale after the long winter and chilly spring. So Group Health volunteers sprayed sunscreen on those in need where the course passes Spokane Falls Community College.
With the temperature approaching 50 by midday, hardworking 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.
The Gonzaga University women’s basketball team was the celebrity starter for this year’s Bloomsday, earning a quilt given annually to the designee.
Team seniors Courtney Vandersloot, Janelle Bekkering, Tatriana Lorenzo, Carter Schick and Claire Raap used the quilt as a starting flag before rolling it up for future installation in the team’s locker room.
Not surprisingly for a team that played its way into the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, their timing was flawless. Gun sounded and quilt snapped down simultaneously.
Dressed to impress
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 such as “Fly Me to the Moon” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
This was 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.
The buzzard did not have the top of Doomsday Hill to himself. A caped chicken, the Gonzaga Bulldog, and Spokane Indians mascot Otto were all backing him up. But the buzzard remained the photo op of choice.
Running on the job
Mead High School’s track and field team, along with the school’s leadership group, collected the sweatsuits, extra shoes and other gear from the elite runners before the race, ran the stuff over to the Monroe Street Bridge, and lined up the runners’ gear bags according to bib number. They had little time to get there before the wheelchair competitors and elite women finished.
“We have to hustle,” assistant track coach Jim Miller said.
Big crowd of contenders
Lilac Bloomsday Association reported that 56,652 people registered for Sunday’s event. That’s the most since 1996 and ranks eighth for all Bloomsdays. The race started in 1977.
More statistics: The National Weather Service reported an 8 a.m. temperature of 36 degrees. That made 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 significantly when the morning fog lifted.
Running for two
No one was going to give Sara Kimball grief if she didn’t match her personal best Bloomsday time.
“I wanted to run it when I was pregnant,” said Kimball, 26, who ran Sunday just a few weeks away from giving birth.