Spokane Falls Community College was swarming with students Saturday morning.
Not college students, but elementary and middle schoolers who braved chilly temperatures with long sleeves and weaved through campus for a 1.2-mile Junior Bloomsday run.
“It wasn’t that hard,” 10-year-old Jude Brown said.
“It was a lot of turns, though,” 8-year-old brother Oliver Brown said.
The run precedes the 7.46-mile Bloomsday trek that draws thousands of participants every spring to the streets of Spokane. The run is set for May 1, two weeks from Sunday.
With music blaring and temperatures hovering around freezing, children gathered at the starting line Saturday outside the college’s Student Union Building. They jogged east, north, zigzagged and finished at the track grandstands, where they reunited with their families and friends.
Otto, the Spokane Indians’ blue Spokanasaurus mascot, and Skitch, the college’s Sasquatch mascot, were on hand interacting with the runners and family members.
Jon Neill, Bloomsday race director, said 2,449 children finished the race. He said it was a bit chilly, but he still saw lots of smiles on the faces of racers and parents.
It was the first in-person Junior Bloomsday since 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the previous two years.
“Being able to put on a road race again meant the world to all of us,” Neill said.
Watching the community celebrate fitness was also exciting, he said. Children of different ages and fitness levels participated, “but everyone enjoyed themselves, and that’s really our goal,” Neill said.
The Brown brothers, who are cross country runners at school, finished around the same time, which was 13 minutes, according to their father, Mac Brown.
“I think they did fantastic,” Mac Brown said. “Yeah, they pushed themselves. Right, guys?”
Ray Gleason, 13, said it was a little cold and completing the race was the best part.
“I felt accomplished with what I had done,” he said.
Abby Martin, 12, said she is also a cross country runner and she did two runs with her mother this week in preparation of Saturday’s event, which she ran with one of her friends.
Meanwhile, Neill said a little more than 19,000 runners have signed up for the in-person Bloomsday race, and a little more than 4,000 are registered for the virtual race.
He said he and organizers are extremely encouraged by those numbers, and they typically get a “good surge” of registrants in the final two weeks.
Neill said 35,000 to 42,000 normally participate. He said it’s anyone’s guess for how many people register before race day.
Runners can register online at bloomsdayrun.org. The entry fee is $35 through April 28 and $50 April 29 and 30.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.