Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Spokane

Bloomsday times wrong due to error
Mistake has racers finishing 30 seconds slower
Related stories

Megan Cooley
Staff writer

Ever wish you had more time in a day?

Well, if you ran Bloomsday on Sunday, you got an extra 30 seconds.

Although many aspects of the big race went smoothly, the Lilac Bloomsday Association's system for recording finish times didn't. Nearly every runner's time was reported as 30 seconds slower than it really was.

Race director Karen Heaps was greeted Monday morning by calls and e-mail questioning the race results, which were posted on The Spokesman-Review's Web site Sunday n
ight.

Due to the error by race volunteers, finish times printed by the newspaper in today's Bloomsday insert also are incorrect.

Somehow, the markers that volunteers used to group the bottom tag of the race bibs as they came in got off track, Heaps said.

Her advice for reading the finish times?

"Minus 30 seconds off the finish times," Heaps said.

Elite runners are hand-timed, however, so their results are accurate.

The Spokesman-Review's online posting of the times will be corrected today.

The Bloomsday association also incorrectly typed in the time of the first female to finish in the 23-29 age group. Heather Taylor finished in 46 minutes, 5 seconds, not 56:05 as the newspaper insert reports, making her the fastest among her peers.

The final tally showed 39,557 runners, walkers and wheelers completed the 28th annual race, down 239 people from last year. Heaps said she was satisfied with the turnout, though.

"The more people you have, the hotter it is out there," she said Monday.

As it was, five people were treated at local hospitals for heat exhaustion and several others received care in medical tents along the course. Sunday's weather was muggy, with temperatures reaching the mid-70s.

Many people are telling the Bloomsday association that they liked this year's T-shirt color, Heaps said. It was white for the first time since 1981.

Bloomies also are saying they enjoyed the bands and other entertainment along the course. Finishers have until Wednesday to vote for their favorite race-day performer at www.bloomsdayrun.org.

In other contest news, the Inland Vascular Institute won the Corporate Cup's best team name contest. They called themselves "We're so Vein."

More people stayed longer at the post-race party in Riverfront Park, Bloomsday officials said. That could attract more Bloomsday participation next year, Heaps said.

"If people hear it's really fun, they're going to have to come out and do it," she said.

The association already is considering changes for 2005, including timing the race with small devices called ChampionChips.

"With this 30-second fiasco, people are saying, `This is why we should go with the chip,"' Heaps said.

The chips are used in other races around the country. Runners tie the thumb-sized chip into their shoe laces. As people cross the start line, transponders in the chips send each person's beginning time to a receiver. Another receiver at the finish line picks up the ending time, so runners receive an exact calculation of their performance.

The chip would add $5 to the entry fee, and it wouldn't be optional. Runners could keep the chip, which would have a Bloomsday logo.

A survey of past Bloomsday runners conducted in December found that for every four people who like the conventional timing method, five would prefer the chip.

•Megan Cooley can be reached at 927-2165 or by e-mail at meganc@spokesman.com.


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