Bloomsday brings out EWU track and field members


Mckenzie Ford

Thousands make their way through downtown Spokane on Sunday as a part of the 43rd annual Bloomsday.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Bloomsday is one of the vanguards of Spokane’s culture. Over the past 43 years the 12 kilometer road run has become one of the largest in the world, with over 40,000 yearly participants.

Many of those 40,000 include Spokane County  natives, and as long time runners, members of the EWU track team are no stranger to Bloomsday.

25 years of Bloomsday

Men’s head coach Stan Kerr, a graduate of EWU, said he has done Bloomsday roughly 25 times. He didn’t run this year due to prior family commitments, but said he loves participating in the event. He and his wife used to run even when their two sons were young.

“We’d initially take our kids when they were under five (years) old,” Kerr said. “We’d watch the elite athletes come through. If the weather’s good it’s just a tremendous event.”

Kerr said that when his son was still young, he ran Bloomsday while pushing his son in a three-wheeled stroller.

“That was very unusual … because the carriages (start) at the back of the pack,” Kerr said. “You look up and there’s 50,000 people starting in front of you.”

While his time in the race decreases every year, Kerr said that participating is what matters to him. Most years, he ran for enjoyment and to spend time with family. But in 2016, he ran in memory of his friend Richard Runyon.

Runyon, was killed when piloting a plane that crashed into the Spokane River near Felts Field in 2015. Kerr said he and his wife ran to support his wife, Karen Runyon.

“It was more of an awareness for (her),” Kerr said. “ I still have the shirt that she made up for all of us that wanted to go with her in that run. It was a very positive event, very uplifting.”

Running since fourth grade

Many current EWU distance runners have run Bloomsday, with some having run multiple times. Freshman Jacob Stirpe, a Ferris High School graduate, ran Bloomsday with his mom in the fourth grade. A picture of them was published in The Spokesman-Review on April 30, 2009, as Stirpe’s mother Jody had been interviewed about the newly debuted Bloomsday Facebook page.

Jacob Stirpe has run Bloomsday a total of seven times. He preferred to run alone, but was willing to run with others “if they were setting a good pace.” Stirpe said that his best time is 43 minutes, coming in his sophomore year of high school.

“I love all the little things people are doing as you run,” Stirpe said. “The bands, (people) handing out water and lemonade. There’s a lot of things you get to see when you run. .. it’s the one time where a lot of people come together for a big race. It’s cool, not a lot of places do that.”

First timer

Redshirt freshman and Spokane Valley High alum Jack Sloan ran Bloomsday for the first time last year. He said that since he was in shape, he figured should run the event since he lives in Spokane and had never done Bloomsday before. He estimates his time was around 44 minutes. Sloan said he appreciates that the race is open to anyone.

“People walk it, people jog it, people crawl it,” Sloan said. “People do everything.”

For the love of running

Senior Gracie Ledwith, a Lewis and Clark High School graduate, has run Bloomsday four times. Her personal best was 50 minutes. Ledwith has ran another city’s road race, the Butte to Butte, a 5K competitive in Eugene, Oregon.

“I just ran for fun, because I love running,” Ledwith said.

Ledwith said that the layout of Bloomsday contributes to its popularity within the Spokane community.

“Running such a fun course makes it really fun,” Ledwith said. “It’s a challenging course for sure … it brings the running community together.”

Elite speed

Redshirt freshman Jacob Christner, a North Central High School graduate, estimates he’s ran Bloomsday seven or eight times. His fastest completion of 48 minutes was in eighth grade, while running with his middle school track team, which was the last time he participated.

Christner said running has become a staple of Spokane, which heavily contributes to Bloomsday’s popularity.

“It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year,” Christner said. “Because of that, they’re able to bring elite runners in. That really hypes me up and gets me excited to run Bloomsday. I’m sure it does the same for other people.”