Taking 100 Kids to Bloomsday

Posted by Filed Under: Races & Racing

Now that I have your attention, I will explain….ok, where do I start?

Well I guess I will begin with “What is Bloomsday?”

Bloomsday is a 12 km race that first began on May 1, 1977, and runs through downtown Spokane, Washington. Over 1,000 runners participated in the inaugural Bloomsday Run, which was billed “Run With the Stars” in posters announcing the event. Olympic gold and silver medallist Frank Shorter crossed the line first, followed by Herm Atkins of Seattle and founder Kardong. In the following years the Bloomsday field continued to grow, reaching 57,300 in 1988. In 1991, Bloomsday took another jump to 60,104, and in 1996 the event reached its all-time high of 61,298. During its history, the Lilac Bloomsday Run has added prize money for top runners (1982) and wheelchair racers, and the event consistently attracts the world’s top competitors. Bloomsday has been a member of the ARRA and PRRO circuits of major U.S. running events, and in 1996 Bloomsday hosted the first PRRO World Road Running Championships. Over the years the race has been featured in Runner’s World and The Runner magazines, as well as on television on ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports Northwest, and the Outdoor Life Network.

Anyway, a few years ago the high school I taught at decided to take a group of students to Bloomsday by bus. Because the school had an extensive video arts program, phys-ed and video arts teamed up to run the race as well as make a documentary of the experience. We took about 40 students.

This is my fifth year as a supervisor to Bloomsday, but this year was different for two reasons. One reason was this time we took two busses and the second was that at the beginning of this year I began teaching at a new school. My new high school is much smaller and no one really knew what Bloomsday was so I reserved 11 spots on the busses from my old school and began the “building year.”

We began the four day trip by loading the busses and departing at 1:30 am Friday. Since we had 16 hours of driving, (we are up north in Alberta, Canada), we thought this year we would try to do some of it in the dark and let the kids sleep. At about 8 a.m., we arrived at Radium Hot Springs for a swim and to stretch our legs. From there we continued on and arrived at the hotel located in downtown Spokane about 3 p.m. The hotel is in a great location because it is attached to the race expo and only three blocks from the start and finish line.

From this point we got the students checked into their rooms and then had a team meeting in a boardroom, which we have exclusively for the weekend. From there we released the students and allowed them to rest, to hang out and swim.

In the morning we all went to the race expo, followed in the afternoon by shopping at a mall and then headed back to the hotel for a short run. After the run along the river of Spokane, we all changed and went out for dinner at a buffet place. The group then headed back to the hotel and got ready for the big race the next day. The students were all in their rooms by 9 p.m., ready to sleep (yeah, right!).

Race morning we woke up early, got to the starting line and then ran 12km. After this the students got back to the hotel to compare war wounds and stories. From there the students had the rest of the day to relax and just “hang out.” The next morning at 5 a.m. we loaded the bus and headed for home. We arrived back Monday at 7 p.m.

It is pretty hard to summarize this trip and do it any justice. For many students this was life changing experience it. I know, for me, running a 12 km race when I was 15 would have been a huge (impossible) accomplishment. For days after, the students talk about it and often return the next year to do it all over again. I am hoping to take 30 next year, so wish me luck!

  1. Anne on May 22nd at 5:49 pm

    What a wonderful way to introduce younger members to the world of organized running. Kudos to you and the others for making it happen and keeping it going.

  2. Dawn - Pink Chick on May 22nd at 8:49 pm

    Awesome stuff Aaron. I almost wish I was a kid attending your school.

  3. Linda on May 23rd at 3:54 pm

    Sounds like you enjoy doing it as much as they enjoy participating. I ofen wonder why running races such as this isn’t a part of more schools “field” activities.