Our Northwest

Remembering when I earned my first Bloomsday T-shirt

Friday, August 16, 2013by  Laura Pflug

In high school, I wanted to be a runner so bad. My brother and cousin had always excelled on our cross country team, so I figured I would too. After about two months of summer training, I quit. When I got to Gonzaga University (go Zags!) in Spokane, I tried running again -- eventually earning my first (of many) Bloomsday race T-shirts.

The Bloomsday race (formally called the Lilac Bloomsday Run) was first run on May 1, 1977, and was inspired by Olympic marathoner Don Kardong. The 7.46 mile (12 km) race course (which is very similar to the current course), attracted 1,198 finishers the first year. 1978 brought with it the first t-shirt design by Brian Henderson, and by 1983, Bloomsday had 22,210 participants and was deemed by Runner’s World magazine to be one of the best road races in the U.S.

I’m assuming that Northwest Profile #54 started around 1986 (the 10th Lilac Bloomsday Run), when participants were urged to countdown each day leading up to Bloomsday with a different finisher t-shirt. Nike even sold Bloomsday shoes at retail outlets in Spokane. Soon after, in 1988 Bloomsday reached an all-time high with 57,298 participants, while 2002 saw Bloomsday’s one-millionth finisher.

The morning of my first Lilac Bloomsday Run (May 6, 2012), was one I will never forget. The temperature was perfect, skies were clear, and I had a whole three days of training under my belt. For those of you who have run the Bloomsday race, I’m sure you understand how I felt when I went up the notoriously difficult “Doomsday Hill.” Though extremely winded and fatigued, I finished the race, along with 48,000 others, and earned my first T-shirt.

Back in high school, I remember a friend telling me her dad was going over to run Bloomsday, and that he had for the past nine years. At the time, I thought it was bizarre. Now, as a runner passionate about a local, yet nationally recognized race, I plan to do the same for many years to come – and keep collecting Bloomsday T-shirts.


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