The clock is ticking. Really. It is. You can see it at bloomsdayrun.org.
There are 63 days and change left until the greatest show on Earth. Perhaps I overstate the case, but Bloomsday, that lovable 7.46-mile run through the streets of Spokane, is one of the seven wonders of the world. Whoops. There I go again. Can't help it. Spring is approaching, snow is melting and days are growing longer. You can feel it. You can see it. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
The first Sunday in May, Bloomsday, is perhaps the most sacred day of the year, according to one survey, finishing slightly behind Christmas and Easter.
How popular is Bloomsday?
So popular that more than 10,000 runners and walkers have already signed up, and another 40,000 or so will join them.
So popular that spectators are already reserving seats along the course.
So popular that it's one of the two reasons to visit Spokane (the other is Hoopfest).
"We won't know until race weekend exactly how many people will join Spokane's annual celebration of health and community," said Bloomsday Association President Steven Jones. "But based on early interest it's pretty clear that this year's Bloomsday is going to be another memorable event."
Memories are many ... of daughter Jennie's shoe bouncing through the running masses, right to me; of cousin Annie and the bullhorn Doomsday, of brother Mark and water fights, of cousin Jerry and dropping pants, of wife Marianne pushing strollers of children and a stolen purse.
I add, proudly, this will be Bloomsday number 20 in a row. And dating back to 1991, 22 of the last 23. I also vow to beat my oldest son Nick and reclaim my ranking as No. 1 runner in the family. Oh yeah. It's going to happen. Sorry Nick.
Here's what's ahead for us so-called "Bloomies" this year:
n The Bloomsday experience this year will be similar to what participants enjoyed in 2012, with everyone starting on Riverside Avenue near Lincoln Street and finishing at the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge, just above the Spokane River falls.
n Timing this year will once again be accomplished with the B-tag, the latest adaptation of RFID technology. Instead of removing the tag from the runner number and tying it in the laces of one's shoes, the B-tag is embedded on the number itself and only has to be worn to work.
n And to take advantage of the technology, participants this year will again be given a "Time Up Doomsday" in addition to their finish results after the run.
n To help people get ready for this year's 12-kilometer challenge, Bloomsday has once again partnered with Step Up and Go-a local nonprofit that is encouraging area residents to engage in daily physical activity and healthier eating year-round - to offer training programs for Bloomsday participants. In addition, sign up for two national training programs - Runcoach and the Lydiard Running Wizard - is available during online registration.
n Those looking for inspiration in their training may want to take advantage of a talk by Christopher McDougall, author of the best-seller "Born to Run."
McDougall will speak at Spokane Community College at 7:30 p.m. on April 10, with a 4-mile group run preceding the talk. McDougall believes human beings evolved to run hundreds of miles at a time, because it was "the way we survived and thrived and spread across this planet."
n Along with the run itself, this year's Bloomsday weekend will feature the eighth annual Marmot March, a non-competitive one-mile kids event in Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 4, the day before Bloomsday.
n Also on Bloomsday weekend, the Bloomsday Trade Show, which is held in conjunction with check-in at the Spokane Convention Center, will once again have displays and activities centering on health and fitness.
n In addition to the elite racers at Bloomsday, top age-group runners will vie for medals, local stars will hope to earn a free trip to Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race, and businesses will scramble for top honors among over 250 teams in the Corporate Cup.
n There's the coveted finisher's T-shirt, the color and design of which are kept secret until the finish line. The best shirt of all time, hands down, remains the 1996 version with the crushed cups. Brilliant.
n Finally, there is the family gathering at the park, which later moves to Fast Eddie's for, of course, the beer as everyone recounts their run. It is the best of times.
That's the good news.
But wait, there's more.
You, too, can still sign up for Bloomsday.
Online registration is open at www.bloomsdayrun.org, and printed entry brochures will soon be available at locations throughout the Inland Northwest. The on-time entry fee for Bloomsday is $17 this year, low for a major running event.
Mailed entries must be postmarked by April 16 to avoid the late entry fee of $35.
It could be the greatest day of your life. If not, well, you'll still have the T-shirt.
And remember, the clock is ticking.
Bill Buley is city editor of the Press. He can be reached at (208) 664-8176, ext. 2016