The Joy of Running Together
The Lilac Bloomsday Run was born into Spokane history in 1977 as over a thousand runners gathered downtown. Over 40 years later Bloomsday has evolved into an iconic community event in Spokane. It consistently draws in tens of thousands of competitors from across the country, affecting the Spokane communities and businesses in seismic ways. It brings passion and drive to life through competition and the joy of racing. Bloomsday kicks off Spring on the first Sunday of May every year. Thousands pour through the streets, collect their tee-shirts and celebrate, and the city is returned to its normal pace the next day. All of the runners are resting, besides 40 bodies frozen in the spirit of Bloomsday.
The Joy of Running Together lines a corner of Riverfront Park with metal bodies posed mid-stride. The sculpture was created in 1984 by David Govedare in direct response to the burgeoning community surrounding Bloomsday. Each body is a metal silhouette, unique to the person they were based on. David’s goal was to represent the different ethnicities, genders, and abilities through each of his models.
Jerry Martin is an employee of Skils’kin Commercial Services department. In 1979 he underwent an injury that has left him wheelchair-bound since. By 1980 Jerry was a part of a wheelchair basketball league. He and his teammates were always seeking out more activities to participate in, and soon became the first group of wheelchair racers to participate in Bloomsday. Jerry recalls wrecking during the race two different times on downhill sections, “The chairs just weren’t built for it yet”. He finished the course in 1980 and continued to race for the next 25 years. As he constantly worked to improve his time he went on to win the wheelchair and master classes two different years.
In 1984 David Govedare reached out to Jerry with his vision for capturing the essence of Bloomsday, and he wanted to use Jerry’s body. Once his silhouette was traced from multiple angles David assembled a metal model with 39 others and established the art piece on Riverfront Park. Looking back now Jerry feels a sense of pride being a part of Bloomsday history. He doesn’t visit often, but when he does he is reminded of every Bloomsday he’s participated in and the passions surround this event and community.