On Saturday, Avangeline Burby, age 9, won the girls’ 9-and-under 5K run that bears her grandfather’s name.
Over 300 runners took part in the 39th annual Bill Burby Inspirational Fun Run and Walk this year, according to race director Andy Sears. He added that he was pleased to see familiar faces at the starting line, as well as among the 40 volunteers who directed traffic throughout the racecourse and attended water stations, the registration table and the start and finish areas.
“It really takes a bunch of people to get it going. In some ways, it runs itself every year. In other years it’s quite a testament [to the] people working together to get things done,” he said.
The athletes lined up for their respective events — first the 10K and then 5K run — as longtime coordinator Russ Brazil, who helped start the race in 1980 in honor of his friend, readied his gun to start.
Bill Burby pushed to incorporate physical education into the Vashon Island School District’s K-12 curriculum during the 1970s, leaving an indelible mark on a generation of islanders. Brazil has started the 5K and 10K runs nearly every year since the first race was held.
The Bill Burby Inspirational Fun Run has helped support Vashon Island High School athletic programs for decades. A portion of the money raised also funds the Bill Burby Wellness Scholarship, awarded annually to a high school senior.
As they have in the past, island businesses and organizations formed their own groups to participate in the race this year, including the Vashon Athletic Club.
“We always think that’s cool when groups get together,” said Sears, who added that for the second year in a row, the Silver Striders, a group of athletes over 50, participated in the 5K run. This year they brought 54 runners to the island, with the oldest taking their mark at 85 years old.
Sears said that plans are already being made for next year’s 40th-anniversary run.
“We’re excited about the 40th year next year, and we’ll want to have a big crowd out,” he said.
Aaron Burby, Bill’s son, took second place in the 10K in the men’s 40 to 49 category. Board member Mary Margaret Briggs said she is touched that the event continues to have the participation of the Burby family after all these years.
For her, she added, watching determined island children take to the starting line is a thrill of its own.
“Everybody’s reaction is personal, but for me, it’s just seeing the kids,” she said, singling out Xan London Chambers, who won the 5K run in the boys’ 10 to 14 category.
“He has been running his heart out since he was a little kid, and he continues to show up and really put 100% in, so I love watching him. For me, it’s the kids, and that’s what makes it such a great event for the island,” she said.