If the kids' excitement about Bloomsday is any indicator, participation in this year's Bloomsday Run in Spokane could be a record-breaker.
The Fit for Bloomsday program, which helps kids in local schools train for the annual run through Spokane, is healthier than ever. The program reaches into 80 schools this year – up from 70 last year. And there are roughly 8,000 kids signed up, as opposed to the 6,000 who were enrolled last year.
The numbers were celebrated Tuesday's afternoon at a news conference in downtown Spokane.
New to Bloomsday this year will be further enhancements in technology or the individual runners. Instead of placing a radio chip around runners' ankles or shoestrings, this year participants will have a chip embedded into their bib number. Once they cross the finish line, their finish time will be recorded, just as in prior years. But then things get interesting – and more instantaneous.
QR codes will make their debut on the race bibs this year. The pixelized graphics will allow runners who finish the course to scan the graphic with their mobile device so they can see their finish time almost immediately.
Race officials have been relying on technology to increase participation in the annual event that draws tens of thousands of people into downtown Spokane each May. At their news conference on Tuesday, they boasted 12,000 followers on Facebooka and a healthy following on Twitter.
This year participants can sign up for the race using their mobile devices or tablet computers. They can also sign up to receive e-medals, electronic badges that show a participant is preparing for Bloomsday, and another one that shows they completed the run. Both of those badges can be shared electronically with friends.
Online registration for the 36th running of Bloomsday is already open. Printed entries will be available at area Sports Authority stores beginning March 6.
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