The story behind one of the Bloomsday runner statues


SPOKANE, Wash. -If you’ve been to Riverfront Park, you’ve seen the iconic runner statues right on the corner of Post and Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The sculpture called “The Joy of Running Together” was created by artist David Govedare in the 80s to celebrate Bloomsday. And five of the statues are based on an entire family.

“Ours is just a little slice of that big story,” says Liz Little.

She, her husband, John, and their three children are three of the runners.

“Most people don’t believe it when we tell them that our actual family is down there,” Liz says.

John knew Govedare’s wife and that’s how their silhouettes were traced and turned into these statues. The family has run almost every single Bloomsday.

“It’s the best day of the year in Spokane,” John says.

The family continues to get together every year for the event.

“Three generations are running now,” Liz says. “I just think it represents the celebration of life and the celebration of just being able to get out and run.”

Crossing that finish line means lot more to them now.

“It’s a special goal for me because I have Parkinson’s,” John says.

He was diagnosed 12 years ago. He first noticed the symptoms when his writing became small and his right hand didn’t move when he walked.

“I didn’t say why me? I said why not me?” John says. “Everyone suffers from something eventually and this is my lot so I had to deal with it positively.”

John and Liz place a lot of emphasis on health and being grateful for every day. They go on three mile walks every morning no matter the conditions.

“We both encourage each other to keep moving. We feel better when we move,” Liz says.

And every year, they continue to look forward to Bloomsday.

“It’s a big effort to do it but I want to keep doing it for as long as I can,” John says.

That’s because for the both of them the day means a lot.

“Standing there at the starting line, I just get a lump in throat and coming over the finish line, it’s the same thing. It’s just like, you feel like you’ve accomplished something. And I know in the big picture maybe it’s not much, but for that day it’s enough,” Liz says.

That’s at the heart of what these Bloomsday runners are all about, which is why, for John, each step is always forward. No matter how small, how large, how slow, or how fast.

“Life is random. Things happen that you have no control over and you have to deal with all the circumstances with a joyous heart,” John says.

John and Liz will both be at the starting line with their family this Sunday.

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