The Ritual.

Field Report 20150501RC

Topic: A City Prepares for Bloomsday

Conditions: Eye-of-the-Tiger Inspiring



Driving around town they hang on the fronts of houses, colorful and flapping, like Tibetan prayer flags. Nope: there hasn't been a Buddhist revival in Spokane. Yep: it's the Friday before Bloomsday, and as I drive just a few blocks, I see two houses proudly displaying t-shirts from the first 37 years of the road race.  In a running town like Spokane, the Lilac Bloomsday Run is a big deal.

Each year, about 50,000 of us take part in this spring ritual: a 7.46-mile jaunt around Spokane, one of the largest timed races in the nation. There are folks like Allan Kiprono, an elite Kenyan runner looking to claim his third Bloomsday victory and a share of nearly $100,000 in prize money. Then there are people like me: locals who use the race as a motivator to maintain a decent fitness level over the winter. Both Allan and I will make our way from Riverside Ave around to Doomsday Hill and on to victory on the Monroe Street Bridge. Some victories look different than others: a friend of mine used to jog it every year dressed in a foam hot dog costume.


Pre-race rituals over the course of the weekend are crucial. Make your way downtown to the Spokane Convention Center to pick up your race number and swag bag (Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m). I like to ride my bike down to avoid parking ridiculousness, and use it as an excuse to knock around my favorite downtown spots. The proximity to an independent bookstore like Auntie's usually has me taking home something to work my literary muscles, in addition to my runner packet.

If you want to get real weird, walk among the blooming lilacs in Manito Park sometime this weekend, for good smells and good luck. 


Caffeine an hour pre-race. I do it every year, and it is an incomparable feeling to mix a shot of adrenaline with a shot of "Mile Seven" from Indaba: it's from Ethiopia (like a few past Bloomsday winners), and it's named for the coffee bar's location on Broadway near the end of the course. If you're casual about your finishing time, you can just stop in to enjoy one during your race.