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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Oxarc ensures Bloomsday can always use unique trophy

The four winners of this Sunday’s Lilac Bloomsday Run will receive trophies unique to Spokane.
The four winners of this Sunday’s Lilac Bloomsday Run will receive trophies unique to Spokane.

The top four winners of Sunday’s Lilac Bloomsday Run will receive the glory, accolades and cash prizes – plus one more prize that’s less well-known, a trophy based on The Joy of Running Together sculpture.

For the past 30 years the Lilac Bloomsday Association has given these trophies to the fastest male and female finishers and the top male and female wheelchair racers.

“They represent a totally unique Spokane image that forever reminds the winners that this is from Bloomsday, this is from Spokane,” said Don Kardong, Bloomsday race director.

Oxarc, a Spokane-based company that provides welding and industrial supplies throughout the Northwest, this spring gave a gift to the Lilac Bloomsday Association that will help ensure that this trophy tradition continues. Oxarc purchased the rights to reproduce the work from artist David Govedare and has donated the annual artist’s fee to the association into perpetuity.

“We are grateful to Oxarc for their donation to us, which will help us continue this trophy tradition for years,” Kardong said.

“We’re a family business here, and this gives us a great opportunity to support our city and Bloomsday,” said Oxarc president Greg Walmsley.

The trophies are bronze versions of the four study models Govedare created in preparation for his now-famous larger artwork, which depicts 40 competitors and is made of cor-ten steel, a high-strength copper-impregnated steel. The runners are at Post Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard, on the edge of Riverfront Park and near the Bloomsday finish line. Govedare created the models in the early 1980s when the idea of a public art piece to honor Bloomsday began to form in his head.

Not a runner himself, Govedare did a felt-pen sketch of runners to envision what he thought might represent the pulse and significance of this particular race. Then he laced up and ran Bloomsday – once – himself and “felt the flow and energy and what it feels like when people run together. There is a rhythm and almost a singular heartbeat. Being part of the solid flow of humanity was very fulfilling.”

And so he created the study models to see if the silhouette images he had in mind would work artistically in three dimensions. When it came to creating the life-sized runners, he traced exact silhouettes of real people – young and old, representing many ethnicities and nationalities – and took a full year to create The Joy of Running Together. He was able to secure sponsorships from individuals and companies to pay for each figure – with the Lilac Bloomsday Association sponsoring one as well. Several people helped him install the piece in 1985, including Oxarc’s Walmsley.

After the installation Govedare said conversations followed with Bloomsday officials, and it was agreed the study models would be perfect trophies for the race. And so the four models, cast in bronze annually at a foundry in Oregon, became the official Bloomsday trophies.

“I have a sense of closure now that the statues will endure,” said Govedare, who continues to create art in his studio near Chewelah, Washington. “They are truly where they belong.”

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