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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Reversing Bloomsday’s lagging participation begins with a first step

Runners hard to the finish line during Bloomsday, Sunday, May 6, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Runners hard to the finish line during Bloomsday, Sunday, May 6, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

You can single-handedly save Bloomsday.

Yes, you.

Well, perhaps “save” overstates it a bit. The annual run isn’t on life support. Not yet anyway.

Let’s just say you could be the one who will be personally responsible for reversing the downward participation trend. Starting next year.

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page here.

You know who you are, right?

You have never done Bloomsday. You have nothing against it. Not really. You don’t regard it as a mind-control cult.

But you have noticed that many of the “Ya gotta love it” evangelists/runners tend to be built like whippets. And that’s so not you.

Also, you have no desire to be called a “Bloomie” and, generally speaking, your tolerance for the “Woo-hoo!” factor at public events is rather low.

You went downtown one Bloomsday ages ago and saw/heard that finishers were being greeted by the guy on the PA system as if they had just come home from an extended combat deployment. Please. Last time anyone checked, Bloomsday was a voluntary recreational activity.

Still, you have always liked the idea that everybody is welcome to sign up. It brings friends together and, though you’ve never met him, you have long had the impression race founder Don Kardong is a good guy.

Plus you’ve always sort of liked it when co-workers wear their finisher’s shirts to the office on the morning after.

But you have never registered. And practically everyone you know is well aware you have never registered.

So when you loudly declare your intention to do Bloomsday in 2019, people will sit up and take notice.

“You? Bloomsday? That will require getting up off the couch, you know.”

So just how is this going to reverse the event’s numbers decline? How would your participation be more of a dynamic catalyst for growth than would the involvement of any other first timer?

I’ll tell you.

It’s like what coach Herb Brooks told the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team before their historic game with the Russians.

This is your time.

I think your signing up has the potential to be the metaphorical butterfly flapping its wings and setting in motion a chain of events that eventually produce a hurricane 1,000 miles away.

Your modest example might have the power to inspire.

“That guy? That guy’s doing Bloomsday? Maybe I ought to sign up myself. ”

Now let’s be clear. You won’t be doing this next spring because of guilt. Nobody pleaded, cajoled or wheedled you into pulling on a pair of sneakers.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee that your participation will prompt a riot of rookie registrations. But who knows? It might.

You see, the thing you realize – the thing others might have forgotten – is that Bloomsday is one of the happenings that make Spokane special.

Even those annually able to resist the event’s charms have to admit that.

Do you really want to see us lose that?

Sure, you could dismiss the Sunday run as pointless. You could suggest other ways to harness that energy.

But the thing about Bloomsday is it brings a lot of people together to do something physically active in the heart of our rising city.

It isn’t about just sitting in a stadium and complaining about the price of beer.

It’s about testing ourselves and doing so among thousands of friends you have not met.

It’s about reflexively reaching to help someone who stumbles.

It’s about tradition.

It’s about doing better than last year.

It’s about feeling sore and liking it.

It’s about feeling pride of accomplishment and seeing the same in the sunburned faces of your pals.

And yes, it’s a way of cheering for imperfect, irascible, sometimes confounding Spokane.

For the most part, nobody really loses at Bloomsday.

Once you have declared your intention to be in the throng next May 5th, you can adopt a new persona.

You can be the guy training for Bloomsday. It can be your thing.

Someone wants you to mow the lawn?

“Sorry, I’m training for Bloomsday.”

OK, maybe you won’t reverse the declining numbers trend. Not all by yourself at least.

But you know what they say about a journey of 7.46 miles.

It starts with the first step.

When it’s all over next May, you can paraphrase the famous battle speech from Shakespeare.

And gentlemen in Spokane now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That ran with us upon Bloomsday’s day.

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