Bloomsday Run in Spokane

Since 1977, the first Sunday in May has been dedicated to Spokane’s Lilac Bloomsday Run. What started as a small run with about 1,200 runners over 40 years ago has now become an annual tradition and national running event attracting tens of thousands of runners every May.

Basics

This year’s race will take place on Sunday, May 6 with the race beginning at 9 a.m. An anticipated 50,000 participants are expected to run, walk, or jog the 12K course. Wheelchairs, kids, and stroller pushers are all welcome.
 
The competitive portion of the run is optional, but does get quite heated with world-class runners and wheelchair racers vying for a $20,000 purse. Bloomsday attracts runners from all over the U.S. and 8-10 foreign countries, and is one of five stops on the Professional Road Running Organization Circuit of major U.S. road races.

The seven-and-a-half-mile run takes participants through a course beginning and ending in downtown Spokane near Riverfront Park. Much of the course offers views of the Spokane River with the finish line at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge where the scenic Spokane Falls serve as a backdrop.

Tradition

Those running in the race are affectionately referred to as Bloomies. Those who have run every single Bloomsday race since it began in 1977 are called Perennials, of which there are currently 88 people!
 
With such a strong tradition, it’s no wonder that the city erected a public artwork in honor of the event in 1985. “The Joy of Running Together” depicts 40 life-sized runners in motion and can be seen near the race’s finish line to serve as a bit of encouragement as runners complete the last leg of the race.
 
Many participants have fun with the event and choose to run in costume. Look out for superheroes, over-the-top headgear, and tutus running past you. Atop Doomsday Hill, where the course gains 120 feet of elevation in less than three-quarters of a mile, runners are greeted by a 10-foot-tall vulture costume. The vulture of Doomsday Hill has made an appearance for over 30 years now.
 
Musical entertainment along the course has evolved from a few bands or groups here and there to an official roster of performers along the entire route. Around 27 acts participate for the title of Best Bloomsday Entertainer Award, as voted on by the runners. 

Technology

As technology has advanced, so has the Bloomsday Run. Race times are precisely tracked by a B-tag using radio frequency on the number worn by each runner. An app has been developed for training ahead of the race in which you can virtually run the entire course. There’s an app for the actual event too, which tracks friends and family during the race, lists race events, provides course maps, and displays results.
 
With 72% of participants carrying their mobile device along the route, seven different Snapchat filters will be set up along the course for selfies and photo opts. Runners can also use the event hashtag, #BloomsdayRun, when posting to Twitter or Instagram and free souvenir prints will be automatically printed and available for pickup after the race.

Charity

The race is put on by the Lilac Bloomsday Association, a Spokane non-profit dedicated to “promoting national and international sports competition and fitness education for the civic betterment, social improvement, and physical well-being of the general public.”
 
Every year, an official charity is designated to benefit from race donations. This year’s charity is the Spokane Guilds’ School and Neuromuscular Center, a 57-year-old nonprofit that provides a high-quality early-intervention program for children, from birth to age 3, who are impacted by developmental disabilities and delays. Entrants can support the charity by making a donation during registration.
 
The traditional tossing off of winter wear at the start of the race has also become a charitable aspect. The discarded sweaters and jackets amount to thousands of pounds and are collected to be donated to charity. 

Additional Events

  • Bloomsday Trade Show, May 4-5, Spokane Convention Center
    • Free and open to the general public with 280 booth spaces featuring displays and activities centering on health and fitness.
  • 13th Annual Marmot March, May 5
    • Non-competitive, one-mile run for kids, third grade and younger, to run or walk with an adult companion.
  • Post-Race Party and Bloomsday Food Court, after the race until 3 p.m.
    • Family-friendly activities, food, and music in the downtown area with a beer garden, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Whether you run, walk, stroll, or wheel, get out to Bloomsday and make a Spokane memory you’ll always remember.

Spokane Spotlights