May 3, 2012 in Washington Voices

Bloomie figures easy will do it again

Fun, friends trump finish time for hairstylist
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Hairstylist Steve Ellis has all 19 of his Bloomsday T-shirts on display at Alicia and Associates at 1001 W. 25th Ave. He is aiming to earn his 20th Bloomsday shirt on Sunday.
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When Steve Ellis puts on his running shoes Sunday morning, he’s headed out for his 20th Bloomsday race. For the past couple of weeks, the South Hill hairstylist has displayed his collection of Bloomsday shirts on the wall of Alicia and Associates on West 25th Avenue, where he’s worked for three years.

He did Bloomsday for the first time in 1988.

“We were just a bunch of friends who got together and did it,” said Ellis, who’s 62. “It was my instructor at Mister Jay’s that got us all started.” Mister Jay’s was the cosmetology school on the North Side where Ellis got his stylist training, after his career with railroads ended in 1986.

Ellis is a trim man, so one might assume his Bloomsday participation involves lots of rigorous training, protein shakes and lean chicken. Not so.

“I really don’t train, I don’t do anything,” Ellis said, laughing. “I’ve belonged to the same gym for 10 years but I haven’t been there much.” His fastest Bloomsday time was around an hour and 10 minutes, achieved on a year where he alternated jogging downhill with fast-paced walking.

The observant customer will notice that the T-shirts on the wall at Alicia and Associates aren’t all the same size.

“I was 50 pounds heavier in 2001 than I am today,” Ellis said. Yet he attributes the weight loss to genetics rather than to his Bloomsday career.

Ellis still gets together with friends and relatives before the race, and the group’s Saturday evening carbo-load dinners have occasionally gotten a little out of hand.

“There have been a few years where it didn’t work out and we were too hung over to go,” said Ellis, smiling sheepishly.

On race day, the group gets together for croissants and mimosas before heading downtown.

Ellis said his favorite part of the race is listening to the bands along the course and enjoying the scenery.

The only year he’s donned one of the infamous black garbage bags runners wear to stay warm at the starting line was a year it snowed.

“I can’t remember what year that was, but we had two inches of snow on the top of our heads,” said Ellis.

His best advice to Bloomies is to take it easy, have fun with it, and to not push yourself too hard.

“That’s when you get hurt,” he said.

Post-race, Ellis and friends usually swing by O’Doherty’s for refreshments before heading over to the Satellite for a late-morning breakfast. He plans to do Bloomsday in the same relaxed fashion for as long as he possibly can.

“If I’m in a wheelchair, I’ll find someone who can push me,” Ellis said, laughing. “If I keel over during the race I’ve asked my friends to drag me over the finish line so they can bury me in my new Bloomsday shirt.”

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