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Bloomies will gather in person after two years away

Doug Nadvornick/SPR
The new 2022 Bloomsday poster was created by former Spokane resident Brian Maebius.

Spokane's Lilac Bloomsday run will have in-person and virtual options

Spokane’s iconic Bloomsday Run will be back on the streets in May 2022.

“We will probably be, next to NFL games and other arena concerts, one of the biggest events, if not the biggest event, in the state of Washington to go in 2022,” said race director Jon Neill. “It’s been a running joke at Bloomsday that, for the last two years as we’ve done virtual, that we were looking forward to getting out of the mailing business and back into the running business.”

Neill says he and his staff feel they can safely sponsor an in-person component this year. He says they were inspired by marathons held in other cities last fall.

“In seeing those events that involved tens of thousands of people that we knew that we could do it on our scale here in Spokane. So, quickly, our strategy, planning and focus became one of ‘Yes, we are going to do an in-person event for 2022.’ It will probably come with some challenges, but we’re ready for those and, certainly, the Spokane community is ready as well,” he said.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR
Bloomsday race director Jon Neill, speaking at Wednesday's press event introducing the 2022 race.

Neill says the race will include some of the same public health measures that we’ve all been practicing for the last two years.

The race, as usual, will be run on the first Sunday in May on the usual course, beginning in downtown Spokane, through Peaceful Valley, up Cemetery Hill and Spokane Falls Community College, across the T.J. Meenach Bridge, up Doomsday Hill, through the West Central neighborhood, down Broadway Avenue to the Courthouse and then a right turn for the finish on the Monroe Street Bridge.

Neill says those still uncertain about gathering with thousands of others can participate virtually during a 10-day window from April 28 to May 8.

“There are some people that they’re most comfortable with that option and so we wanted to make sure that, as we’ve always done with Bloomsday, to make it as inclusive as possible. Therefore, if virtual Bloomsday is the better choice for them in 2022, as opposed to gathering in person, we welcome that,” he said.

They can run any 12-kilometer course in the world and submit their information to receive their Bloomsday finisher T-shirt. That’s an option that appeals to Dori Whitford, the president of the Lilac Bloomsday Association and coach of the state champion Mead High School girls’ cross country team, “because I am helping at the finish line and I’m there, like, 11 hours and so I don’t get to run it. With virtual, I get to participate, so that’s cool.”

In addition to the race, Bloomsday is continuing with several features meant to expand its appeal.

For those participating virtually, there’s an incentive to bring along your dog.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR
The official 2022 Bloomsdog bandanna

“Bloomsdog took on a life of its own last year when we introduced that,” Neill said. “It was nothing short of just how wonderful things happen on an email from a participant that said I love Bloomsday. I go out there and I do my 12-kilometer run. I do it with my pup and I’m the only one that receives a finisher’s shirt in the end? My dog deserves some swag as well. So we thought, as an association, that yeah, we think that you’re right. So last year we launched Bloomsdog.”

Entrants will receive the official Bloomsdog bandanna to tie around their neck to participate, as well as coupons from local restaurants and boutique retailers for dogs and a pup treat from Dutch Bros.

Neill says Bloomsday will also bring back its Junior Bloomsday event for kids on April 16.

“Spokane Falls Community College has graciously given us their entire campus and their track complex. We will have a fun start on the campus. We will run through the heart of the college and we will finish on the track. It will be about a one-point-five-mile distance,” he said. “Not only do you get the finisher’s shirt for doing Junior Bloomsday, but you also get a special champion’s lanyard, which includes a free Silverwood ticket, as well an assortment of free items, from Gatorade, from Dutch Bros., a chocolate milk from Darigold, as well as a free movie pass from the Garland Theatre. It’s an incredible bargain and we are encouraging families to sign up their kids in grades third through seventh as soon as possible because we are anticipating approximately 2,500 kids to sign up.”

To get young runners ready, Neill says Bloomsday has begun its Fit for Bloomsday program.

“We just introduced it to elementary schools here about two weeks ago, and amazingly enough, we already have 11,000 kids that are signed up,” he said. “It’s so fun to hear the appetite that’s out there in the community for fitness and getting kids engaged again with those sorts of fun extracurricular activities and just being active again.”

One new feature this year is the Bloomsday app that allows people to track their progress.

“We will now have timing mats at every mile marker for the race. When you go across every timing mat at every mile post, it will go ahead and record your time, your split, so you know exactly where you are on the course, what your split was, what your distance was, and then, likewise, you can keep track of all your friends and family as well, as you’re running Bloomsday, to know where they’re at, what their splits are. So then, when you finish Bloomsday, it will record your finish time and then it will roster you so that you know exactly how your time stacked up with every finisher ahead of you.”

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.