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Hundreds get wet, have fun at ‘The Burby’
A little rain didn’t deter the nearly 400 runners and walkers who showed up to “Do The Burby,” a Strawberry Festival tradition now in its 31st year. Participants in the Bill Burby Inspirational Fun Run and Walk included 91-year-old Beryl Bucklin, 6-year-old Isabella Dougher and all ages in between.
In the men’s division, Jose Garcia took first place in the 10K run and for the third year in a row, and Scott Healy took first in the 5K Run. Both ran at a pace of 5:40 per mile.
Emma Thompson won the women’s 10K run. Lisa Garcia, Jose Garcia’s wife, won the 5K run. The couple, both runners, was in town visiting family and enjoyed the local race.
“We had a great time,” Lisa Garcia said. “Those hills are quite humbling.”
But for most participants, “Doing The Burby” is not about winning or losing.
“I just love to run,” said 10-year-old Olivia Larson. “When I hear about a race I just want to get out there and run in it.”
Larson was running along with her 11-year-old brother, Luke.
A group of mothers and daughters who regularly run together came in black dresses, gloves, tiaras, and pearls, looking more like they were ready for the red carpet than a run along Vashon’s wet roads.
“We thought dressing up would keep it fun,” said Lisa Cyra, one of the women in costume.
“Our race strategy is to run lightly and run long,” added Martha Ormseth.
The run started decades ago as a fun race with friends and classmates challenging one another on a route that started behind the Vashon Post Office.
Bob McCormick, Vashon High School Class of 1983, recalls when the run became an official 10K race in 1981. At that time, McCormick was the sophomore class president and part of a leadership team looking for a way to raise money. Their class advisor, Henry Beal, suggested a fun run.
“We were pretty astounded to learn that people would pay as much as $8 to run a race,” McCormick said, recalling the first race.
McCormick and his classmate Neal Allen approached the K2 Corp., which agreed to be the event sponsor by buying shirts and printing forms.
With a sponsor in place, the boys’ dream was closer to reality and they began asking around to see who could help them put on the fun run. They learned about an informal run that Russ Brazill and Bill Burby, both teachers and coaches at Vashon High School, had been organizing during Strawberry Festival weekend for several years.
The two groups joined forces and the K2 Fun Run was born. When Burby unexpectedly died in 1989, the event was renamed “The Bill Burby Inspirational Fun Run.”
Over the years, the course location has changed and the organization of the event has passed on to to different groups at the high school, but Brazill still fires the shot to start the race.
A 5K run and a 5K walk have been added to the original 10K run, and registration still includes a T-Shirt thanks to the race sponsors.
This year race sponsors included Northwest Sports, the law firm of Helsell Fetterman, the law firm of Perkins Coie, Vashon Windermere and LifeWise. The board of the Bill Burby Race also recognizes Vashon Island Junior Basketball as it embodies the spirit of Bill Burby and his passion for health, fitness and sportsmanship.
Neither of Burby’s sons could make the event this year as they were in Spain, running with the bulls.
“They really wanted to be here,” said Destia Hermes, Bill Burby’s former wife. “They’ll be back next year.”
Funds raised from the first run went to benefit the Vashon Athletic Booster Club. Today the funds raised through this event continue to support high school athletic teams. Members of the boys basketball team serve as race officials along the course.
“We’re lucky to have this kind of community support for athletics,” said VHS basketball coach Andy Sears.
For complete race results, see www.BillBurbyRace.org.