Three generations compete in annual race

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Jan Dilley, 75, of Marshalltown, left, has been a runner for the past six decades of his life. In May 2019, he participated in the annual Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Washington alongside his son Damian-Eachan Dilley, 39 and granddaughter Brenna Faye Dilley, 9.

SPOKANE — Jan Dilley, 75, of Marshalltown has been a runner for the past six decades of his life. In May 2019, he participated in the annual Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Washington alongside his son Damian-Eachan Dilley, 39, and granddaughter Brenna Faye Dilley, 9.

No stranger to competitive running, this was the seventh time Dilley has competed at Bloomsday. He has also run in races in Iowa and other states.

“I used to be a physical director at the Y a long time ago. I actively run so I carry my running clothes in the truck,” he said. “As a trucker, I had truck stops all over the United States, Canada and Alaska I could run at.”

His son and granddaughter live in Spokane. It was Brenna who invited grandpa to participate this year after a several years-long hiatus.

“The last time I did (Bloomsday) was in 2013,” Dilley said. “One year was kind of dicey. I was stuck (driving) in a snow storm in South Dakota but made it in time.”

Damian-Eachan has followed in his father’s footsteps with his athleticism. A 1998 MHS grad, he was once swim team captain at MHS and during his time at Luther College. He maintains an active lifestyle with his wife and children, and Brenna also enjoys sports.

So she could be involved in the race, which is around seven miles (12 km), the trio entered in the walking category.

“Normally it’s competitive between me and my son,” he said. “Brenna was a trooper. She just wanted ice cream after the race.”

The Lilac Bloomsday Run is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Net proceeds go to future runs. Each year, a designated charity is supported. Proceeds from the 2019 event went to Second Harvest, a leader in hunger relief for 48 years in Spokane and throughout the Inland Northwest.

“The Lilac Bloomsday Run was born during the running boom that swept the nation in the late 1970s. Local runner Don Kardong, who moved to Spokane in 1974, competed in several national class road races before and after his participation in the 1976 Olympic Marathon, and in the fall of 1976 he suggested to a local reporter that Spokane should have a downtown run of its own … Spokane was enjoying renewed interest in its downtown area after hosting the 1974 World’s Fair (Expo ’74), and a fun run that took advantage of the newly renovated downtown and Riverfront Park seemed a natural fit. Spokane Mayor David Rodgers encouraged Kardong to pursue the idea, the local Jaycees adopted it as a project, and Medical Service Corporation (now Premera) joined as the event’s major sponsor, supplying financial support and organizational expertise,” according to information on Bloomsday’s website.

On May 1, 1977, the inaugural Bloomsday Run took place.

Dilley was the only person from Marshalltown to take part in the race this year, and one of four from Iowa. The race kicks off in downtown Spokane and winds around the river. Dilley said about every five blocks would be a new group of musicians or entertainers performing to cheer people on.

The race is open to all runners, walkers, wheelchairs, assisted wheelchairs and strollers.

Will Dilley participate in the race in 2020?

“Next year’s a long ways away,” he said.