Monday, May 3, 2004

Spokane

Runners take ambition, laziness to the extreme
Some sport six-pack abs; some drink six-packs
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James Hagengruber
Staff writer

photo
Brian Plonka - The Spokesman-Review

The only chasing done by Bloomsday participant Rod Mattson was a shot of booze slugged down after the beer he had drunk a few blocks short of the finish line Sunday.

"Oh yeah, I'm a serious competitor," said Mattson, 51, as he hoisted his power drink of barley, malt and hops.

Mattson, a Seattle teacher, and five friends were averaging 15-minute miles -- but that was before they took a right turn off the racecourse into the darkness of the Broadway Tavern.

The bar was crowded with other back-of-the-pack participants who cared less about finish times than having a bit of fun on a spring morning.

"This is Bloomsday in style," Spokane resident Therese Sivanish said as she guzzled a cold pint of Kokanee beer.

Meanwhile, Spokane runner Frank Petek was stone-cold sober and getting ready to cross the finish line -- for the second time in about two hours.

"Why not do it twice?" said Petek, 53. "You've got friendly people with you, i
t's a nice time of year, you've got lots of water along the way."

If Bloomsday is anything, it's a mingling of extremes in both ambition and laziness. Some racers have six-pack abs; others are Joe Six Packs.

Sivanish and her husband, Norm, once took the race seriously -- Norm used to finish in under an hour. Now it's just a chance to get together with old friends and have fun. The group has made it a tradition to stop at the Broadway Tavern for a pre-finish line drink. After the race, they usually stop at another nearby bar for a round.

Some of Sivanish's Bloomsday group registered for the race, but didn't make it to the start this year.

"They drank too much last night," Sivanish said.

Bloomsday officials were not able to supply information on the number of participants who run the race more than once. Most, like Petek, register under two names.

Petek is careful to point out that he pays the race fees for both himself and his alter ego. He's still a bit worried, he said, that "the Bloomsday police will get me for doing this."

But the way Petek sees it, he's doing the race a favor. "I'm helping them get their numbers up."

Petek has run Bloomsday since 1981, but it wasn't until the mid-1990s that he started racing seriously and 2000 that he started running it twice each year. The change came when his doctor said his heart was diseased.

"If I stay active the rest of my life there's a good possibility I can avoid heart surgery," he said.

After running the race twice Sunday, Petek planned to cram in another four miles. It's all part of his training regimen for the three marathons he plans to run this year.

"When I get motivated, look out," Petek said.

Bloomsday participant Tom Roberts had no plans to finish the race twice. He wasn't even rushing to finish it once.

"That went down pretty easy," the Spokane resident said as he drained his bottle of Bud Light at the Broadway Tavern.

Roberts' friends worked at peeling the labels off their beer bottles. They weren't able to drink on the race course, so they decided to slap the wet labels on their biceps. They needed something to sustain them until after the finish line, Lori Poffenroth explained.

"It's a beer patch," she said.

Roberts and his friends stood in the bar's darkness near the doorway as a stream of sweaty walkers passed on the street outside. Although Roberts was taking it easy, he had every intention of finishing the race. But all that walking builds up a powerful thirst, he said. "I think I need one more before the finish line."


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