SPOKANE, Wash. — Pete Thompson has been on the starting line of Spokane's annual Bloomsday run since the beginning.
Thompson recalled May 1, 1977 like it was yesterday.
"My neighbor asked me if I wanted to do this run with him," Thompson said. "I think I heard somewhere along the way it cost $3 to do it so we did it together."
And the rest is history. More than four decades later, Thompson brought in his 46th Bloomsday run.
"It's a great community event," Thompson said.
Spokane has hosted Bloomsday rain or shine. Even COVID-19 couldn't put an end to this annual event.
In 2020 and 2021, organizers opted for a virtual run where participants could finish the 7.46 mile trek on their own time, wherever they wanted.
Thompson said while it was nice to see the tradition maintained, nothing beats doing the run in-person with other Bloomies.
"You get to be here with everyone," Thompson said. "We all get to enjoy the day together and talk to each other. It's just not the same when you have to do it alone."
According to Bloomsday registration officials, at the close of in-person registration, 29,320 participants had signed for both the in-person and virtual Bloomsday runs. 5,200 of those participants are registered for virtual Bloomsday. Registration for the virtual run closes May 8, which means that number could continue to grow.
Thompson is one of 80 participants who have completed every Bloomsday since 1977. Bloomsday founder Don Kardong said the Bloomsday veterans are deemed "perennials," because they bloom every Spring.
Thompson said he's honored to have the title, but said he believes all finishers should be celebrated.
"Maybe it’s their first time, maybe it’s their 35th, who knows?," Thompson asked. "But we’re all doing it together. The number isn’t as important as the fact that any person is out here doing it.”
Thompson said he doesn't run for time like he did in his first few Bloomsday runs.
On Sunday, during his 46th run, Thompson enjoyed conversations with fellow participants along the way, indulged in donuts and Otter Pops on his way to the finish line and stopped to say hello to family and friends.
"My goal is just to finish," Thompson said. "I don't really care about time."
Thompson earned his 46th finisher t-shirt and said he's looking forward to the next Bloomsdays to come. He called this year's Bloomsday run a "training walk" for next year. Thompson said he's looking forward to getting through 50 runs in a row.