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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Bloomsday is a part of Spokane’s DNA

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Every year we look out the back slider and see the massive Lilac plant in the southwest corner of the yard. And wait for it to bloom. You know why? It’s simple. The emerging buds means Bloomsday is here. Read on.

••••••••••

• You don’t have to be a runner, or even a walker, to appreciate Bloomsday. It was the second of Spokane gigantic civic events – Expo ’74 is the granddaddy of them all – and continues to lead the world in number of participants.

Quietly. Which is perfect for under-the-radar Spokane.

Sunday morning some 50,000 folks will gather downtown and head west for a circuitous run or walk through some of Spokane’s oldest neighborhoods.

Up front there will be lots of sweat, competition and pain. In the back will be strollers, conversation and fun.

In between there is music. And cheering. And even a little road rage.

If you’ve ever participated in Bloomsday, and I’m sure most of you have, you know it can be exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

For everyone from the competitive runners to those just out for a Sunday stroll.

But that’s OK. Life can be exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

It’s been a few years since I rode the bus downtown – what a great deal – and joined the throng in pursuit of a colorful T-shirt. It used to be an annual event for me, one in which the sole focus was on catching up with our neighbors’ lives over 7-plus miles.

It wasn’t that way at first. When I moved here, alone and thousands of miles away from my family and loved ones (somewhat mutually exclusive in our clan), Bloomsday was a goal.

It was 1983. Michael Jackson was singing about the kid not being his son. The Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves were rivals in the National League West (that’s changed). And the M’s were trying to stay out of the American League West cellar (that hasn’t).

When I walked into The Spokesman-Review’s newsroom for the first time on April 1, everyone was talking about this Bloomsday run. I wasn’t fooled. No way there was a run that attracted 30,000 people.

But there was. So I began training – I had participated in a few Southern California road races over the years – with a goal in mind.

I got into better shape in a month. But I started way too far back in the throng and never came close to meeting my objective. Though I tried. The pictures S-R photographer Chris Anderson took of me at the finish line, pictures I still have, show one exhausted dude.

That began a, well, it’s never been a love affair between Bloomsday and me. It’s more of mutual respect. For years I would walk, then head into the office to work on the S-R’s coverage, back when the paper would put out a special section with everyone’s name and time. (This was pre-internet, of course.)

I would proudly wear my T-shirt. And would always go into the computer system and shave an hour off my time. No, I wouldn’t. I was tempted, sure. Who wants everyone to know you walked with your wife as your son finished a mile or two ahead with his buddies? But my ethics wouldn’t let me. Either that or the fear of being fired.

I won’t be walking this year. But I will be thinking about all of you who are. You are part of what makes Spokane, Spokane.

A special place. A unique place.

Home.

•••

WSU: The Cougars picked up a football commitment yesterday and Jacob Thorpe has the story. … Jacob also has his college baseball notebook, this week featuring the Cougars’ Shane Matheny (pictured). … Though Washington State’s baseball team isn’t going to make the NCAA tournament, it sure can spoil Oregon’s season this weekend. … Around the conference, spring football is over. And everyone reached their goals, right? Except maybe Larry Scott, who admitted this week he’s worried a bit by a looming revenue gap. … Oregon and Oregon State are ready for the offseason.

Chiefs: Spokane went big in the Bantam Draft yesterday, picking up a 6-foot-3 forward out of Kelowna in the first round. Josh Horton has the story on the Chiefs’ entire draft.

Empire: The Arizona Rattlers are in their first IFL season. The fans like it, despite the record.

Mariners: The M’s took the series from the visiting Angels thanks in large part to Ariel Miranda’s settling down and controlling the game for seven innings. Dave Nichols has his Mariners Log, with our links added to the bottom.

Seahawks: Yesterday was Pete Carroll’s turn to take to the Seattle radio waves, and he spoke optimistically. As if he knows any other way. Richard Sherman? The relationship is the best ever. Jimmy Graham? He looks great. Injuries? Everyone will be healed and ready to go.

•••       

• Greg Lee has the S-R’s coverage this year of Bloomsday’s elite races. The field is a strong one. Until later …

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