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Friday, April 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Bloomsday organizers unveil plans for colorful May race

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 26, 2020

Bloomsday race director Jon Neill unveils a stuffed vulture during a news conference on Wednesday at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Bloomsday race director Jon Neill unveils a stuffed vulture during a news conference on Wednesday at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Ay, you.

Did you know Bloomsday is rapidly approaching?

If not, the race’s organizers are working to change that, with an annual marketing blitz about to begin in full force – including with the fourth and final poster in a four-part, four-year series that, now complete, puts the “ay” in Bloomsday.

The poster, one of many details related to this year’s event revealed by race organizers on Wednesday, will adorn the storefronts of local businesses leading up to race day on May 3.

A hallmark of Spokane’s spring season, the 12-kilometer running, walking and jogging event will follow the same meandering course it has in recent years, from Riverside Avenue to the Monroe Street Bridge finish line.

That means the infamous Doomsday Hill – an air-gasping, thigh-burning 6.5% grade hill along the Spokane River – remains in play as the race hits its 44th year.

This year, racers’ bibs will reflect the colorful spring season. For the first Bloomsday of the new decade, its bib color scheme will harken to decades past, bordered in bright tie-dye colors.

“This will be one more great way that we’ll be able to add a bit more color to Bloomsday 2020,” said race director Jon Neill.

For the first time, the name on the bib is also customizable for participants who register before March 1.

Runners are known to collect bibs from their races, and the 2020 Bloomsday bib should stand out on a wall.

“This should be a great little piece to store away and remind yourself of the wonderful experience you had at Bloomsday 2020,” Neill said.

Along with the centerpiece Bloomsday race, 2020 will bring the return of Junior Bloomsday, a race for children from third to seventh grades held at Avista Stadium on April 11. On May 2, the Marmot March for toddlers and children will be held in the Kendall Yards Neighborhood.

Although a highly competitive event for many, organizers stress that Bloomsday is open to everyone. About 50% of participants run, but the remainder walks the course. That’s just fine with Neill.

“Bloomsday is meant for those who are very fast and also those who just want to take their time,” Neill said, adding there’s “plenty of entertainment along the way,” including live music, an array of food and a plethora of scenery.

Despite dipping below 40,000 registrants in 2019 for the first time in more than 30 years, race officials are optimistic about this year’s participation level based on early registration, which began in January. Bloomday’s drop in participation mirrors a national trend of decreasing interest in road races.

No matter how many people participate, Neill said Bloomsday’s primary focus is putting on the best event possible.

On Wednesday, organizers also announced a charity partnership with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest, which is in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign to support its expansion in Spokane.

The charity, which provides temporary housing for the families of children receiving medical care, will open a new facility on Fifth Avenue in March, but it’s still about $6.5 million shy of it’s $17.5 million goal to fund the project.

When it opens, the new Ronald McDonald House will feature 34 rooms, including 10 dedicated to long-term stays, more than doubling the capacity of its former location across the street.

“In recent years, our waitlist has hit some peak averages of 14 families per day,” said Mima Scarpelli, a board member with the Ronald McDonald House.

Runners can donate to the Ronald McDonald House through their registration form or by purchasing a $10 pair of red-and-white-striped socks. Every donation made through Bloomsday will be matched by the Community Cancer Fund.

The new facility is a response to the lack of capacity at its current location, which will remain open.

Bloomsday participants can register at bloomsdayrun.org.

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