Many Bloomsday runners and walkers secured their final step before Sunday’s race by picking up their race number and perhaps a hot dog or fitness attire Friday at the Spokane Convention Center.
Several participants are relishing the opportunity to take the nearly 7.46-mile journey in person for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It will just be so much fun to, yeah, to be back in person and do it again,” Jen Lawton said. “We’ve been talking about the vulture, so they’re kind of curious about the vulture.”
Lawton said she is going to run the course before meeting up with her husband and their three young children, all of whom are participating. The vulture she referred to is Bill Robinson, who dresses in a 7-foot vulture costume and greets runners at the top of Doomsday Hill.
Lawton is a Bloomsday regular and avid runner, who ran the course in just under an hour her first time.
“Since then, it’s just been for fun,” she said.
Lauren Hopkins, of Spokane smiles as she picks up her Bloomsday packet at the Bloomsday Trade Show on Friday, Apr 29, 2022, at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Longtime friends Misti Ross and Becky Gregerson will walk the event for a fourth time. Gregerson said it’s fun to enjoy the day together as both are busy in their careers – Ross as an ultrasound technician and Gregerson as a teacher.
“It’s nice to be with everybody and be excited to do it,” Gregerson said.
Gregerson said she hopes popsicles are available Sunday on the course – something a virtual Bloomsday walk does not offer, she joked.
“When it’s warm, it’s fun to have that,” she said.
Ross jokingly said she is excited to complete Bloomsday and rub it in the face of her sister, who is not participating this year but has finished the IRONMAN triathlon in Coeur d’Alene.
“It’s just fun to say, ‘I did this and you didn’t,’ ” Ross said.
Patti Bailey, a Bloomsday volunteer since 1987, said a morning rush of participants filed into the Convention Center when the doors opened at 11:30, adding that it looked like the old times before the pandemic.
“I mean, when we said we were gonna open up the doors, it just all of a sudden felt right, didn’t it?” Bailey asked another volunteer. “We were home.”
It was fairly quiet early Friday afternoon inside the Convention Center, but Bailey said she expected traffic to pick up later in the afternoon and at night.
After picking up their race number and runner instructions, many passed through a chip verification reading and checked out the variety of vendors.
The timing tag is attached to the race number and, as they walked through the verification area, their name showed up digitally on monitors, meaning the chip works and should track their official running or walking time Sunday.
Many of the vendors Friday were tied to fitness.
Jonathan Rihel, a representative, was selling Karhu shoes.
He said he sold one or two pairs as of early Friday afternoon. Vendors always expect the first day of an expo to be a little quiet, and Saturday should be extremely busy, Rihel said.
“It’s really good to see bigger races like Bloomsday coming back,” Rihel said.
Meredith Wolfley, Real Time Pain Relief training director, offered lotions to people walking by.
“Honestly, a lot of people are looking for pain relief,” Wolfley said.
She said many runners complain about calf, knee and hamstring pain.
Bloomsday participants can pick up their race number from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Convention Center. Out-of-town entrants only can pick it up 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sunday.
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