Hundreds cross finish line in ‘The Burby’

Runners take off at the start of the 10K portion of the Bill Burby Inspirational Run/Walk. Willie Richardson, pictured on the left wearing bib number 487, won the 10K race.  - Courtesy photo
Runners take off at the start of the 10K portion of the Bill Burby Inspirational Run/Walk. Willie Richardson, pictured on the left wearing bib number 487, won the 10K race.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A gray and overcast northwest sky created near perfect conditions on Saturday for the runners and walkers of the 30th Annual Bill Burby Inspirational 10K Run and 5K Run/Walk, named after a Vashon health teacher and coach known for inspiring his students.

With a time of 35 minutes, 48 seconds, Willie Richardson crossed the finish line first for the 10K runners, followed by Aaron Burby in second and Kevin Ross in third.

Richardson, a Mercer Island resident, heard about the race from his sister Jo Daly and her husband Tom, Vashon Islanders, who were there to cheer him on.

For the second year in a row, Scott Healy took first place in the 5K, clocking in at 17 minutes, 8 seconds.

The fastest woman in the 10K was Christine Mosley with a time of 44 minutes, 8 seconds, followed by Alisson Bonner in second and Claire Horan in third. Jacquelyn Komen was first in the women’s 5K.

Fourteen Burby family members came to the event, some to participate and others to cheer from the sidelines. Destia Hermes (formerly Burby) proudly greeted son Jason as he crossed the finish line after running the 5K.

Jason ran in spite of having a plate in his leg from surgery last year. He ran side-by-side with a young runner he met on the course.

“That 10-year-old dragged me through the course,” he said.

After his finish, Jason went back to encourage brother Aaron as he crossed the 10K finish line.

For many Islanders, running “the Burby” is a Strawberry Festival tradition. For 81-year-old Skip Norton, this was his 25th run. It was the first for 6-year-old Gabriel Stoddard.

“It was pretty hard work,” said Stoddard. But he and his mom say they’ll be back next year.

Tom Theno has missed only one race since he started participating in 1993, a year when a family function took him off the Island on festival weekend.

“Can’t stop now,” he said as he waited for the starting gun.

Barb McMahon ran with Bill Burby in the early days of the race and has been taking part for 28 years. She preferred the old course and calls this route grueling.

“That last mile and a half is uphill,” she said.

Nearly 400 participants registered for the event and dozens of volunteers ensured a smooth registration process so the run would start promptly at 9 a.m. Pirate cheerleaders handed out water along the route and encouraged participants. Coach Andy Sears and his basketball players served as race officials and traffic monitors. Junior varsity coach Sean Hoogan announced the race. He was a former student of Burby’s and fondly remembers his classroom.

“Bill was a great guy. He was nowhere near the box, let alone in it. He made being at school fun,” Hoogan said.

Proceeds from the race go to support an annual scholarship in Burby’s name and to help support athletic teams at the high school. Race officials thank their sponsors — the law firm of Helsell Fetterman and Vashon Rotary. Northwest Sports provided prizes for the winners.

The event also honored Vashon Island Junior Basketball (VIJB) as an organization that embodies the spirit of Burby and his passion for health, fitness and sportsmanship.

Complete race results will be posted at

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