Monday, May 3, 2004

Spokane

Bloomsday brings miles of smiles
Thousands cheer as 39,557 run, walk, roll through town
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Megan Cooley
Staff writer

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Julie Peone, 43, sat on a stoop in the West Central neighborhood Sunday and summarized the Bloomsday feeling in five words.

"It's just got me grinning," said Peone as she watched Spokane's famous 12-kilometer race for the first time.

Peone doesn't like to sweat. She doesn't run. And when it came to Bloomsday, she always wondered, "Why would I pay to do it?"

"But now I'm seeing it," she said.

The final tally showed 39,557 runners, walkers and wheelers completed the 28th-annual Bloomsday, down 239 people from last year.

This year, a thin layer of clouds covered the sky as participants warmed up downtown during the 8 a.m. hour. But just as the elite male runners put their toes on the starting line at 9 a.m., the sun broke through.

Race director Karen Heaps gazed at the sky during the race start and said, "Ah, this is going to be perfect for everyone."

Well, not quite everyone.

After temperatures climbed into the 70s,

>water and sporting an IV mark on his left elbow.

"Some of the people in there were delirious. They didn't know what was going on," Cronk, 48, said. "I was lucid."

Cronk knew that in order to finish the race in an hour, he would have to run 8-minute miles.

He was on time when he checked his watch with two miles to go, but the end of the race was a little sketchy.

For Christina Vensel, things began falling apart after the first mile when she badly sprained her right ankle. She skipped the next five miles then dragged her injured leg the rest of the way.

"I just said, `OK, Christina, use your brain cells and figure this one out. How are you going to finish this race?"' Vensel said.

The 31-year-old Spokane Public Schools lunch lady actually beat her previous time, finishing in 1:21. Of course, last year she finished on sprained ankles.

"Not too bad for not training," she said.


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