SPOKANE, Wash. - Nearly 50,000 participants gathered to take part in the annual rite of spring in the Inland Northwest, the Bloomsday 12 kilometer road race.<br /> <br /> This year marked the 37th running of this race. What started off as a modest event has grown exponentially over the years and includes athletes from around the world. <br /> <br /> This year was especially significant with the recent attacks at the Boston Marathon. All competitors and volunteers wore lilac colored wrist bands to show solidarity with the people of Boston. This running community would not be intimidated. <br /> <br /> Bloomsday offers not only the straight up competition but an additional Corporate Cup division. This competition is within the Bloomsday race. <br /> <br /> Businesses, and organizations enter five-member teams to compete against others of similar size. The Washington Air National Guard took on the challenge again this year and entered two teams. <br /> <br /> The teams consisted of members from several squadrons. The Wild BLUE Yonders team, consisted of members from the 141st Air Refueling Wing and the 242nd Combat Communications Squadron. Their members were Col. Richard Kelly, Capt. Chuck Parsons, Capt. Rona Ritchie, Senior Master Sgt. Steve Kautzman, and Master Sgt. Gene Lewan. <br /> <br /> The Pass N’ Gas team consisted of members from 141st LRS and 141st Communications Squadron. Their members were Senior Master Sgt. Monte Burnett, Master Sgt. Erik Smith, Master Sgt. Michael Wirth, Tech. Sgt. Jim Achen, and Staff Sgt. Chris Delaney.<br /> <br /> Each team began some form of training in early 2013. Winter months consisted of aerobic fitness and indoor track use at the new Fairchild AFB Fitness Center. <br /> <br /> This year though, several members from each team were deployed during the lead up to the race. Senior Master Sgt. Burnett , of Pass N’ Gas deployed to the Pacific managing to get in some training runs on the beaches of Guam. Col. Kelly, of The Wild BLUE Yonders trained in the mountains of Afghanistan, arriving back in Spokane just three days prior to the race. <br /> <br /> The weather on race day has always been a variable. This year was the warmest weather ever for this run. Though this made for a comfortable starting line wait, it did sap some of the participants during their 12k trek. There were though some impressive times recorded. <br /> <br /> The top times for each team were Col. Richard Kelly (Wild BLUE Yonders) with 51:28, and Master Sgt. Erik Smith (Pass N’ Gas) with 51:33. <br /> <br /> The Corporate Cup competition is scored by dividing each Corporate Cup runner’s time into the winning time for his or her age bracket in the Corporate Cup. For example, if the age bracket winner had a time of 50 minutes and your runner has a time of 60 minutes, your runner’s score would be 833 points (50/60 = .8333, or 833 points. The three highest scores on each team are added together to determine the team score. The highest team score wins.<br /> <br /> The Wild BLUE Yonders finished scoring 2,394 points and 15th place in their division. Pass N’ Gas finished with 2,630 points and an impressive, 2nd place finish in their division. I am sure both teams plan on making a run at it next year again. <br /> <br /> Training for next year begins now and both teams are looking to improve considerably. This event energizes the spirit of the citizens of Spokane and is a fantastic kick off to the summer. <br /> <br /> Having our National Guardsman, and other members of Team Fairchild, participate, helps integrate our personnel into the fabric of this community and promotes fitness and camaraderie. Everyone enjoyed the run, especially Capt. Rona Ritchie, who ran her very first Bloomsday.