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As virtual Bloomsday nears, so does the deadline for discounted registration

UPDATED: Fri., April 16, 2021

Steven Kutsch and Tate Kelly start their Virtual Bloomsday together at Riverside and Lincoln near where the traditional start line would have been on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Spokane. The original May race was rescheduled to Sept. 20 due to COVID-19 before being canceled altogether in favor of the virtual race, which could be completed anywhere in the world to allow for social distancing.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
Steven Kutsch and Tate Kelly start their Virtual Bloomsday together at Riverside and Lincoln near where the traditional start line would have been on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Spokane. The original May race was rescheduled to Sept. 20 due to COVID-19 before being canceled altogether in favor of the virtual race, which could be completed anywhere in the world to allow for social distancing. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)

The most exciting road race of the spring will be run right here in Spokane.

And Delaware. And Australia.

Without the ability to host its iconic 12-kilometer race in person, Bloomsday is again gearing up for a virtual race in 2021. The deadline for a discounted registration fee of $25 is Saturday, but runners can register for $35 up until the final race day, May 9.

Runners’ enthusiasm for the beloved Spokane event has hardly waned, as about 18,000 people have registered to participate, according to Lilac Bloomsday Race Director Jon Neill. Those include registrants from every state in the nation and countries as far away as New Zealand.

“You look to those things that you can celebrate, and that’s certainly what we can celebrate – the geographic reach of the race and 18,000 entries and climbing,” Neill said.

The race will be run by participants at any time of their choosing between April 30 and May 9, at home or wherever they feel like strapping on a pair of running shoes and hitting the road.

It’s all on the honor system, as runners will be responsible for timing themselves and submitting the results online to Bloomsday.

Those who register by Saturday will receive a race bib in time for the race. Those who sign up later will still receive a bib, but it will arrive after the race.

Everyone who finishes the race will receive the coveted Bloomsday finisher T-shirt after the race.

Last year, in its first virtual race, Neill expected race bibs to be more of a souvenir than an actual racing garment. But, lo and behold, scores of runners were spotted on streets throughout the area last September with those numbers firmly attached to their chests.

“You’re going to see a lot of those race numbers around” again this year, Neill said.

Last year, like so many other major events, Bloomsday was stuck in a will-it or won’t-it-happen cycle due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was eventually pushed back to September, then made all-virtual as it became clear that a major gathering wouldn’t be possible given stubbornly persistent COVID-19 case numbers.

“Things just changed dramatically by the week, and it was so difficult to plan and to prepare,” Neill said.

This year, race organizers hoped to avoid that uncertainty and pay tribute to the race’s origins as a spring event, especially given that 2021 is the 45th anniversary of Bloomsday.

Of course, based on the 18,000 sign-ups so far, participation will likely fall below what it was before the pandemic. For comparison, the 2019 race saw 38,500 entrants.

But that hasn’t dampened organizers’ spirits, nor does it make hosting the race any less of a monumental effort.

All of those racing bibs and T-shirts? They have to be mailed from the Bloomsday warehouse by the thousands.

“It’s a well-oiled machine and if there’s anything we’ve learned (last year), it was how to mail and how to make sure that we have our system down for moving data from the registration portal into the mailing process so that we can successfully deliver bibs and deliver T-shirts,” Neill said.

Registration can be completed at www.bloomsdayrun.org/registration/bloomsday.

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