30th Bill Burby run coming up July 17

Two high school coaches and their athletic director used to run after school to keep fit and talk about anything and everything.

Out of that friendship of Bill Burby, Russ Brazil and Doug Kloke came “The Bill Burby Inspirational 10K Race and 5K Run/Walk,” a Strawberry Festival tradition for many Island families. The first race started along the trails back behind the Post Office.

“It was just a fun thing,” Brazil recalled. “Then someone got the idea that it could make some money for the school athletic programs.”

“That’s when K2 got involved,” said Brazil. “They provided prizes and support. For years it was named the K2 Run.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the year the run was formalized as a 5K race.

Longtime participant Dan Chasan remembers it starting at the four-way stop, going east on Bank Road then south along Beall Road and coming back down the highway.

After a few years, a 10K distance was added, and the course moved to start near the Senior Center on Bank Road, going west and eventually coming back to finish near the start line. It was Burby who measured the course to get the race U.S.A. Track & Field certified and sanctioned.

The race was re-named the K2/Bill Burby Inspirational Run when Burby unexpectedly passed away in 1989.

“Bill was the most positive person I’ve been around. He was a very popular leader of teachers, coaches and kids. I learned a lot from him and became a better person and coach because of our association.” said Brazil.

Kevin Ross lived along the 10K route and remembers going out to cheer for the runners when he was a small child.

“I guess I was inspired to try it,” said Ross.

Ross ran the race for the first time in 1989 and won it in 2006.

Ross, now the high school cross-country coach, moved the course to the current Dilworth Loop location.

“We didn’t want to move it, but the organizers and the sheriff’s department thought that cars mixing with runners was too risky,” said Ross. Ross himself had a “car to person” encounter, but is quick to point out no one got hurt.

The event has become a family tradition for many. It now attracts nearly 500 runners and walkers. Last year racers and walkers ranged in age from 9 to 72, and about 80 percent of them were Islanders. Some aim to beat their personal best time, while others join with friends to walk and talk.

This year’s race sponsors include Vashon Rotary, the law firm of Helsell Fetterman, Northwest Sports and Vashon Island Junior Basketball.

Proceeds benefit high school athletic teams and provide an annual scholarship in the name of Bill Burby.

The race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 17, at the VYFS Playspace on the corner of Gorsuch Road and Vashon Highway. Register online at Fees are $15 for those who sign up in advance. Fees increase to $25 on the day of the race, cash only.

— Glenna Mileson is a sports mom and Burby board member.

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