SPOKANE, Wash. – Many people are preparing to lace up their shoes for Bloomsday, but one group of spirited athletes racing in their own way.

Mary Smith, a resident at Touchmark Retirement Home on Spokane’s South Hill, moved to the Lilac City from Southern California five years ago.

When she moved, Smith heard lots of chatter about a local event: Bloomsday! She kept hearing about it, so she made sure she was ready when the first Sunday in May rolled around.

“And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get something to wear to Bloomsday!’ So, I got new sweatpants, all that sort of thing. And that first Sunday in May, I came out in tennis shoes. I came out, it was a day like this, and nobody was there. Not one soul walking,” said Smith.

Smith thought it was terrible that no one was out walking, so she took it upon herself to change things. She went straight to the leadership at Touchmark, they got to work and the “Spirit of Bloomsday” was born.

For five years, Touchmark have residents gathered for their own race.

“The first year, we had 22 people. The next we had running -- I use the word running lightly – the second year we had 74. Last year, we had 178,” said Smith.

May of the participants in the Spirit of Bloomsday are veterans of the original Bloomsday downtown. Others gather to meet with friends and get some fresh air. Either way, Smith is proud of the event that gets her and her neighbors out in the sunshine.

“It isn’t just the running, but my hope is – I would hope some other retirement homes would pick up the idea and have it their way on the day they want to, because it gets everybody up. [It] gets everybody out for another reason. It does wonderful for friendships,” said Smith.