Bystanders fill the streets with the sound of cheers while the echo of sneakers on the pavement can be heard from any direction.
The Lilac Bloomsday run is a community race first established in 1977 by olympian Don Kardong. The race is held annually, taking place on the first Sunday of every May. The race begins in Downtown Spokane and ends at the Monroe Street Bridge, a 7.46 mile distance. 40 years later, Spokane is hosting the 41st annual Bloomsday run. Although many aspects of the race have changed, it is clear that the culture and welcoming attitudes of the community associated with the race still remain.
Mother-daughter duo Denette and Bonnie Mauck have been participating in Bloomsday for a total of nine years. Denette travels all the way from Virginia while Bonnie travels from Cocolalla, Idaho to participate in the Bloomsday race together.
The biggest improvements to the race itself has been in the functionality of it all, according to the Maucks.
“It’s smoother now,” said Denette Mauck. “The t-shirt pickup went a lot better this year.”
Along with these improvements, Bloomsday has evolved into an event that can more accurately hold runners accountable in regards to fully completing the race.
Stacy Nichols, an SCC student in the criminal justice program has been participating in the Bloomsday run for 20 years. Over the last five she has begun running the race with her children as well.
“When I was 12 and I first started doing bloomsday, they used rows and didn’t have ways of tracking us,” said Nichols. “I noticed a lot of people would come in the middle racing because they weren’t being tracked”.
In the 2006 Bloomsday run “a new timing system using transponder chips was implemented” according to bloomsdayrun.org. “The chips allowed all participants to start on Riverside Avenue and to be recorded based on net time from start to finish”.
Nichols explains that Bloomsday has created a positive impact in the community since it began.
“Bloomsday gives back to the community,” said Nichols. “It brings people out who wouldn’t normally be out and getting involved”.
Few people have attended the annual Bloomsday run longer than Denese Masters. Masters, a citizen of Newport, Washington, who has traveled to Spokane every year since the early 80’s. Each year Masters travels to downtown Spokane to observe the races and join in on the festivities.
“Gosh, I can’t even count how many years I’ve been coming,” said Masters.
Although Denise has since lost track of her years on the Bloomsday sidelines, she has no plans to end her tradition any time soon.
“I travel to Spokane every year to watch the race,” said Masters. “My oldest daughter Sandi ran Bloomsday and now I come every year for her”.
Over the many years that Masters has come to observe Bloomsday, members from all walks of life have continued to gather.
“I come because of the people,” said Renne Masters, daughter of Denese.