Bloomsday and Hoopfest are joining forces. For the first time, teams can compete in both events this year to win the first Bloomsday-Hoopfest Team Championship. Event organizers announced the partnership today in a press conference to kick off Bloomsday 2010, which takes place May 2. The idea was to bring together two of Spokane’s most popular activities: basketball and running, said Rick Betts, founder of Hoopfest. Teams will be divided by gender and must consist of four people. This year’s Bloomsday, the 34th annual, will benefit SNAP, which serves low-income, homeless and other vulnerable people. “It couldn’t happen at a more appropriate time,” said Ron Hardin, SNAP’s communication’s director. SNAP adapted the slogan “Running Poverty Out of Town” and is planning a “special presence” along the course, Hardin said. “It’s a secret right now,” he said. Also new this year is a teen challenge that matches runners from local middle schools and high schools to see which team can finish the race with the lowest time. Organizers also are introducing a new tracking tag that fits through shoelaces instead of around the ankle. Organizers are expecting a huge turnout after last year’s harsh winter brought more participants than ever. “It’s looking like our unusually mild winter is having an even more dramatic impact,” said Jerry O’Neal, Bloomsday Association president. More than 7,000 students have been participating in a Bloomsday preparation program at about 70 local schools. Braiden Coston, a 12-year-old student at Assumption Parish School, designed this year’s winning poster, featuring a runner and the Riverfront Park Clock Tower.