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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Low Bloomsday turnout blamed on this year’s frequent bad weather

By Pia Hallenberg and Chad Sokol The Spokesman-Review

The long, cold and wet winter gets the blame for the relatively low number of finishers in this year’s Bloomsday.

Of 42,985 people who registered for the race, an estimated 38,748 finished the course on Sunday. In both categories, those are the smallest numbers since 1985. And it’s the first time the number of finishers has dipped below 40,000 since 2004.

“Races around Spokane were way down,” Bloomsday founder Don Kardong said. “We expected to be hit with the same thing, and our best guess is it was the nasty weather.”

Since the inaugural Bloomsday in 1977, the race grew in popularity every year before reaching a jagged plateau in 1988. The number of finishers reached an all-time high of 56,156 in 1996.

After a slump through the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the number of finishers peaked again at 51,303 in 2011. It has fallen every year since then.

Counting every Bloomsday through last year, the average number of registrants who didn’t show up to race was 3,775. There was a wider margin this year, with 4,237 no-shows.

Bloomsday board President Mark Starr blamed that on misty gray skies that hung over the first starting groups.

“When it’s chilly and it’s raining, there’s lots of people who get up and say, ‘To hell with this. Let’s go get breakfast,’” Starr said. “The weather really does have that effect.”

Bloomsday founder Don Kardong said it takes about a month for final race numbers to be calculated. The official numbers of racers and registrants for each year are available at

The sun did rise in time for most participants, and Kardong said the event panned out smoothly.

In other years, Bloomsday has set up an after-race festival in Riverfront Park, but this year’s park renovations forced the vendors downtown.

“I think it worked out OK,” Kardong said. “We are still waiting to hear from the vendors to see how well they did.”

Bloomsday’s official charity, World Relief, will have to wait until the end of the month for a final tally of how much was donated.

“Early numbers looked very good,” Kardong said, without disclosing exact figures. “We will know by the end of the month how much they got.”

T-shirt distribution also was moved to a different place – right in front of River Park Square – because of road construction near the downtown library.

“That actually worked out really well; there was no clogging whatsoever,” Kardong said. “We may want to do that again.”

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