The Lilac Bloomsday Run, known as Bloomsday, is an annual timed 12K road race in Spokane, WA, held on the first Sunday of every May since 1977. The Lilac Bloomsday Run has had over 40,000 participants every year since 1986.
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With the exception of 2011, when I was in Eugene coaching an athlete to an Olympic Trials berth in the marathon, I’ve run Bloomsday every year since 1991, which also happens to be my fastest year.
Bloomsday is a true celebration of running. It offers international competition at the front, several start waves which accommodate all participants, and a challenging course for everyone. It is a race which the entire city of Spokane comes out to celebrate and cheer on every participant and at the end there is a giant party in Riverfront Park. For those who aren’t looking to run a 12K you can still walk as the final wave is the walker/stroller wave. There isn’t a time-limit to get off the course, so people are free to move at their own pace over the entire distance.
What is it that draws 50,000 runners every year to the streets of Spokane? First off the entry fee. It costs just $18 to run the 12K ($35 on race day weekend) and for that you get a tee-shirt at the finish and results card mailed to you post-race. You get a well-organized packet pickup with a virtual goodie bag so you can pick and choose those offerings you would like. The race course is closed to traffic and has 4 aid stations and porta-potties every mile. The result? A well-supported race which brings people back year after year.
The course is one of the more challenging courses around, but don’t let that mislead you. The women’s world record for 12K was set on this course just a few years ago. The first mile is flat, while the second mile features a 800m downhill followed by an 800m climb. The third mile is flat for the first half and the climbs past a cemetary before a flat fourth mile. The fifth mile starts downhill but then has the largest climb on the course up the famed “Doomsday” Hill, which is an 800m climb leading to a flat final two and one-half miles.
Bloomsday is held the first Sunday in May, so mark your calendar and make arrangements to experience this world-class race. You won’t be disappointed.
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