For 15 consecutive years, Don Kardong served as Bloomsday’s race director. This year, after the 43rd Bloomsday Lilac Run, the founder of one of the biggest road races in North America will retire and pass the torch for this iconic Inland NW running event.

OTO: What are some of your top Bloomsday highlights?

DK: It’s hard to beat that first year, 1977. After months of planning, to be able to line up in a crowd and race down Riverside was a great thrill…to experience what had been just an idea as it became a reality was really exciting and gratifying.

OTO: Which aspect of your role as race director have you most enjoyed?

DK: The creative parts are the most fun. Helping select the design for the finishers’ shirt, deciding what the souvenir gear will look like, reviewing the advertising and promotional items like the poster that our designers at Sigma create for us, and implementing new ideas.

OTO: What will you most miss from your race director duties?

DK: I’ll really miss interacting with all our volunteers. I know I’ll still get to do that as a volunteer myself, but not as much as I am now as director.

OTO: How do you envision Bloomsday in the future?

DK: The basic heart of Bloomsday shouldn’t change. It will still be an opportunity for people to welcome spring with a giant gathering of their fellow citizens and visitors to the region, people who embrace the challenge of traveling 12 kilometers on foot. What will change are the embellishments, which I suspect will largely be technological. Things are developing so quickly in the running industry…the ability to enhance the experience with any number of gadgets and feedback is going on at a rapid pace.

OTO: What are your retirement plans?

DK: I don’t have any specific retirement plans, but I’m already enjoying spending time with our four grandchildren, so I expect that to increase. And I’ll certainly be around the Bloomsday organization long after I retire as race director. //