Thousands make Bloomsday 2006 a successPosted: Updated:
SPOKANE, Wash, - An estimated 45,000 people participated in the 2006 Lilac Bloomsday Run. The race was dominated by Kenyans Gilbert Okari and Isabella Ochichi. Gilbert, the Men's Elite winner, crossed the finish line with an unofficial time of 34:14. Ochici fended off Tetyana Hladyr, from Ukraine, to take the Women's Elite title with an unofficial time of 38:36.
Okari's lead was a small one up to and including Doomsday Hill. But once he reached the top and started his descent to the finish line, he blew small lead into a :30 win at the Monroe Street Bridge. At the end of the race, when asked he he thinks his strong finish at Bloomsday proves that he may be the best road runner in the world, Okrai simply said, "Yes, I think so."
As impressive as were the wins for Okari and Ochichi, the first racer to cross the finish line was Saul Mendoza. The Men's Elite Wheelchair racer won his 9th straight Bloomsday run. In the Women's Elite division, Shirley Reilly, from Tucson, Arizona took first place with an unofficial time of 34:37.
After the Elite's crossed the finish line, it was time for everyone else's moment of glory. The masses - some serious runners, others mere strollers taking part in tradition - started at staggered times. Some raced to beat their personal best, while the majority jogged or walked across the finish line.