‘We just wanted to have some fun’: Bloomsday returns to Spokane’s streets Sunday morning after 3-year absence

Skies were clear and the Bloomies were ready Sunday as Spokane’s signature road race returned after a three-year absence prompted by the pandemic.

Temperatures were already in the 50s as the first few groups headed down Riverside Avenue to the theme of “Chariots of Fire,” sweatshirts and sweatpants thrown into the trees overhead.

Looking west on Riverside at the start of Bloomsday 2022. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman Review)

Bloomsday registration had lagged a bit from recent years, but several attendees said they were waiting to get back on the roads.

“We just wanted to have some fun,” said Brittany Spurbeck, who crafted tulle tutus with her friend, Ashley Hansen, for their fourth Bloomsday race together. They hadn’t dressed up before.

Most Bloomsday runners noticed the sparser crowds compared to years past, but noted the thrill of returning to the streets after virtual events.

“It’s much quieter and smaller, but regardless, it’s just nice to have the group back,” said Katie Alhafian. Alhafian ran her first Bloomsday in fifth grade, and has run in roughly 30 races since.

Elsewhere, on Doomsday Hill, members of the Gonzaga University men’s track team arrived to cheer on alumni running in the race.

“It’s a cool event,” said Dominic Arce, a redshirt junior. “We like to be a part of it.”

Bill Robinson donned his vulture costume for a return to cheering labored runners after a heart condition almost ended the tradition last fall. Many runners gave Robinson high-fives as they crested the imposing incline.

Another participant returning from a health scare was Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs, who was running for the first time after a bout with throat cancer.

“I feel like I can actually run again,” said Beggs, who estimated he was participating in his 15th Bloomsday after running his first while at Whitworth in the 1980s.

Beggs also noticed the smaller crowd.

“We’re not normal yet, but we can picture it now,” he said.

Mayor Nadine Woodward was the starter, waving the Bloomsday flag for the first group of runners around 9 am

The finisher shirts this year were unveiled shortly after 9 am They’re a coral color with block lettering featuring the profile of the Monroe Street bridge and the Great Northern Clocktower in Riverfront Park.

Roads along the route will be closed until 2 pm Drivers downtown should be wary of pedestrians as the next few waves of racers leave the starting line through 10:30 am

This story is developing and will be updated.