The fluke incident that started Bloomsday

To celebrate the 40th running of Bloomsday next week, I’m re-posting a May, 2013 post about the circumstances which led to the founding of Spokane’s biggest road race.

The nation’s second largest run by number of timed finishers, Bloomsday was founded by Don Kardong, the fourth place finisher in the 1976 Olympic marathon. I watched 1976 Olympic marathon gold medalist, Frank Shorter, win the very first run in 1977. Don Kardong finished third in that race, and he’s currently the Bloomsday race director.

Don Kardong leading Steve Prefontaine in a 1970 race. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Don Kardong leading Steve Prefontaine in a 1970 race. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

The idea for Bloomsday was hatched by Don Kardong the same day as a long line of people were waiting at the Spokane YMCA for handouts of surplus cheese on a cold November morning in 1976, which the United States Department of Agriculture arranged frequently back then.

As the time neared for the cheese to be distributed, a YMCA official appeared and announced that there’d been an error in the newspaper. The cheese was not at the YMCA, but at the YWCA, located just a few blocks away. The crowd broke into a run.

Mr. Kardong, enjoying a quiet, contemplative stroll, was surprised to find a sprinting mob coming at him. To avoid being trampled, he ran a short distance and turned into the first parking lot, which happened to be the YWCA. Merely wanting to escape, he somehow ended up first in line, and was given two large bricks of cheese. A reporter covering the event wrote a front page story the next day vilifying Kardong for taking advantage of a program for the needy and as well, using his running ability to get to the front of the line. Kardong says, “I got a bum rap for that, but man, was that cheese good! I ate an entire brick as I walked home. I saved the other, and today it’s on display at the Bloomsday Hall of Fame.”USDA cheese

Inspired by the sprinting mob, Kardong started the Race for Surplus Cheese. Over time, a more dignified name was sought. Thus, Bloomsday.


My public lecture is a huge success

A couple weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I gave a lecture, open to the public. It turned out very, very well.Jim's lecture2

The six-hour lecture event focused on insects I’ve seen while running. Not once was there any chatter or conversation among attendees as I spoke. It was obvious that everyone was very interested as I described the bugs I’ve seen flying around or crawling on the ground as I run past.

I sneaked a photo about halfway through, and I think because of the sheer wealth of information presented, the audience is trying to digest it all.Dave bored

In a different area of the lecture hall, I set up a table and a sign for attendees to get in line for autographs. The gentleman above, David Blythe, apparently forgot my mention of the post-lecture autograph session, but quickly got in line when I reminded him.Jim autograph line (1)

After getting my autograph he rushed out with nary a good-bye.

I couldn’t help beaming as I sat at my little autograph table. When people rush away, obviously intent on getting home to put the autograph in a secure, safe spot, I can’t help but be proud.

With this success, I scheduled another lecture, this one eight hours, entitled, “Descriptions of Jim’s many t-shirts acquired from entering races over the years.”

I suggest making arrangements now to ensure you get a seat.