On her 30th Bloomsday, there’s not much that surprises Debra Peale anymore. She knows every mile. She knows exactly what she’ll have for breakfast and where to look for the nuns, the vulture suit and her husband after the race. But the thing that never gets old, she says, is watching the other racers.
“Everybody can go, from the elite-of-the-world runners all the way to normal people to the handicapped. … Any age, any ability,” she says, sounding giddy. “That’s what’s cool about it.”
Peale, 54, and the others on her team fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The Replacements are made of people from around the region who’ve had hip, knee, shoulder, foot, ankle, hand, wrist or elbow surgery (including replacements) from the surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialty Clinic of Spokane.
The clinic pays their entry fee and gives them matching T-shirts, but since most of the team members have their own routines with family or friends, they don’t usually run as a group.
“Our clinic and our specialty is all about restoring function,” says David F. Scott MD, one of the clinic’s surgeons who specializes in hip and knee replacements. (He and other staff from the clinic take their own shot at the course in a Corporate Cup team every year.) “Many of [our patients] had been Bloomsday walkers or runners in the past. Then their arthritic hip or knee got in the way. … We fix them and all of a sudden they’re potentially able to walk Bloomsday, something they hadn’t been able to do in maybe years.”
Peale had both hips replaced — they broke down from “just life,” she says — after she found herself in pain walking or riding her horse for just a few minutes. She scheduled the surgery for after that year’s Bloomsday to make sure she wouldn’t miss a race.
Since the replacements, she’s been more active and says she “marvels” at her ability to walk the race: “I think, ‘How cool is this?’”
One of her 60 or so teammates, Jack Lane, who’s also had both hips replaced, starts the race with more obligation than excitement. Lane, a 78-year-old former teacher and high-school baseball and basketball coach, has done Bloomsday 17 times, “or somewhere around there,” and though he walks the whole course since his hip replacements, he still aims to make it in less than two hours. Just like his lifelong membership in Weight Watchers and his morning walks six days a week, Lane says Bloomsday is a way to manage the passage of time.
“I [walk] because I feel like I have to. If I don’t, I feel guilty,” he says. “I would like to live long enough to see my two grandkids get married.”
— HEIDI GROOVER
Some members of this year’s Replacements team (left to right): Debra Peale, Jack Lane and Verla Yates.
Photo by Young Kwak.