Monday, May 3, 2004

Spokane

Race a sight to see, on course and off
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From staff reports

photo
Jed Conklin - The Spokesman-Review
Eva Cushing cheers on runners from the front yard of her sister's house along Broadway on Sunday. Her family decided to have a costume party for the race.

It's hard not bumping elbows and ankles in the first two miles of Bloomsday, where the masses are packed into narrow neighborhood streets and the rule of the road is to look before you step.

Bryant McKinley makes his way through the pack without looking at all. The 67-year-old Spokane man is blind and runs with the help of a cane and friend Greg Wilkinson.

Wilkinson takes the lead and the front of the McKinley's walking stick. McKinley takes the back. Less than three feet separate the men during the race.

"We strike fear in the heart of the Kenyans," McKinley said before the race.

McKinley, of Spokane, finished 12th in his age group in 2003 and easily finished in the top third this year.

Lighter attire

The white Bloomsday shirts came as a surprise for many folks who expected a yellow or pink this year. For most it was a pleasant surprise.

"It's better than last year," said Amanda Salisbury, who finished in 1 hou
r, 46 minutes. "It looks great."

Ron and Judy Griffith, both in their 60s, said no matter what the shirt looked like they'd still love it.

It's been 24 years since they last collected a shirt.

Stripping of the seconds

Pam Scott, of Cle Elem, runs Bloomsday in under an hour. She knows that as the start nears, there'll be a surge from behind.

That's why she and friend Amy Lochow, of Moses Lake, wore bathrobes so they can "disrobe" more efficiently in the tight crowd.

Spectator sport

Cheney resident Ron Peterson has only missed about five races in the history of Bloomsday. He's never run or walked the event. He just likes to go to the Broadway Tavern, have a cup of coffee or a cocktail -- "depends how things are going," he said -- and watch the race go by.

Peterson once planned on participating, but cancer slowed him and left permanent injuries to his legs.

"It's just kind of revitalizing to see all these people put forth the effort," he said.

The sidewalk in front of the Broadway Tavern was home to some of the most spirited race-watchers. A man with flame tattoos shooting out from under his receding hairline danced barefoot nearly nonstop for two hours.

A Spokane resident who goes by the name LJ arrived at the bar early in the morning. It was noon somewhere in the world -- New York City, to be precise -- when LJ drained his first glass of beer.

Every few minutes LJ walked out of the bar wearing his cut-off T-shirt, blue jeans and knee-high buckskin boots. He pumped his fist in the air and cheered on the racers.

"How come everybody looks so tired? I'm not tired!" he yelled from the sidewalk.


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