Faculty and staff runners from Eastern’s team ‘Red ’ continue to dominate Bloomsday’s Corporate Cup.
On May 1, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Bloomsday road race made its triumphant return to the streets of Spokane. Much to the chagrin of their competition, EWU’s Red team, a running force that has dominated the race’s “Corporate Cup” competition for 23 straight years, were also back.
By race’s end, to the surprise of pretty much no one, team Red had once again finished with the title, racking up a perfect 3,000-point score.
“We’re the most successful athletic team that Eastern has ever produced,” quipped team member Grant Smith, a professor emeritus of English at EWU who, at age 84, has for four-decades been the team’s leader and lead recruiter.
Eagle football, of course, has won a national title. But EWU Red’s now 24-year-long streak gives that moment of glory a run (so-to-speak) for its money.
Bloomsday’s Corporate Cup is sort of a race within a race, with runners representing a business or organization competing for top places and times within 13 different age groups for men and women. The first-place finisher in each group contributes 1,000 points to the team total, with subsequent finishers receiving points based on their proximity to the winner’s time.
Teams are limited to five runners. Three of these earn scores, while the remaining two stand in for tie-breaking purposes.
“It is cool when we hit 3,000, and it’s cool when we are all perfect across the board,” said team Red’s David Millet, director of EWU’s Veterans Resource Center. “It doesn’t happen very often.”
But often enough, apparently. This year’s total of 3,000, in fact, marks the seventh-straight year Red has recorded a perfect score, and the 10th time overall. “What would you equate it to?” said Millet of the streak (before this year’s win). “It’s like the Triple Crown that Cooper Kupp won. It’s that one year where everything lines up and falls into place.”
In the run up to this year’s race, Curt Kinghorn of Runners Soul, a running-gear retailer in Spokane, wryly commented on his own previous teams’ track record of futility against Eastern’s Bloomsday runners. Try as they might, he said, his group could never match the scores of Red’s older guys, who excelled within their age groups. “They refuse to lose,” says Kinghorn. “It seemed they kept getting faster the older they got.”
— By Dave Cook. An earlier version of this story, Seeing ‘Red,’ appeared under Cook’s byline in The Spokesman-Review.