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Yearly Bloomsday runner completes course with broken leg, borrowing chair of Vietnam veteran

Pete Thompson has completed the Bloomsday run every year since its beginning, but broke his leg shortly after registering for this year's run.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Thousands of runners and walkers took to the streets of downtown Spokane for Bloomsday on Sunday.

For Pete Thompson, it's a tradition that he has been a part of every single year since the beginning of the event in 1977. But this year was different. 

Thompson broke his leg shortly after registering for Bloomsday.

Breaking his perennial streak was not an option. But the break meant he would not be able to complete the course on his own for the first time.

"It's a whole different perspective of and about Bloomsday," Thompson said. 

From his wheelchair, he watched as a group of about a dozen family members and friends took turns pushing him through the course.

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"This chair came from Walt Mabe, who is a Vietnam veteran who lost his leg in an ambush, actually stepped on a booby trap, probably a grenade. He lost his lower right leg," Thompson said. 

"He's lived with this disability all of his life, me, this is temporary and so the respect and regard I have for him and everybody that helped push me through this is pretty hard to define," he continued. 

David Kirkman, a friend of Thompson, happily volunteered to push.

It was the second time he had pushed a perennial through the course and as someone who has participated in every Bloomsday but the very first, it meant a lot.

"In a lapse of wisdom I didn't choose to run the first one and I've run every one since and I've always regretted having that pale lilac T-shirt," Kirkman said. "It's kind of like, it's the closest I can come."

Thompson is crossing his 43rd Bloomsday off his bucket list but he is looking forward to many more to come.

"Let's shoot for 50 and then reassess," he said while laughing. 

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