Saturday’s Bill Burby Inspirational Fun Run and Walk was the biggest to date — more than 400 Islanders and visitors pounded the pavement in the event that honors one of the Island’s most memorable men.
Affectionately called “Burb,” he was a founder of the Strawberry Festival 10K run, a head football, wrestling, golf and cross-country coach and teacher at Vashon High School and the creator of the citizens’ health advisory committee in 1973 that led to the K-12 health curriculum. Bill Burby made time to do it all — and with a passion.
Coming full circle, the winner of the 2008 Bill Burby 10K run was none other than Bill’s son, Aaron Burby. The Seattleite, 34, has competed for several years in the race named after his father, who died when he was a teenager — but first place eluded him.
“It’s an important race for me and my family,” the winner said. “It’s an honor that the race is still organized in my father’s name.”
Aaron said he was tired as he crossed the finish line, and the sun was beating down, but he felt great — he’s been running the festival run for more than 25 years, and came in fourth for the last four years.
“The fact that he was the winner of his namesake race is fabulous,” said Susie Kalhorn, a race organizer.
Jake Jacobovitch, who was stationed as traffic control at the race’s first intersection on Gorsuch Road, said he saw one “swift” runner, way ahead of the pack, before anyone else came into sight.
“Usually, there’s no one running with no competition — when Aaron came by my station I saw nobody else, no one within 500 feet in the distance,” he said. “He was just a man possessed.”
Vashon High School track and cross-country coach Kevin Ross came in behind Aaron, snagging second in the 10K race. The two were teammates, having run together while students at Vashon High School, Jacobovitch said.
He added that he watched Aaron grow up, ever since Bill and Jacobovitch were teammates on the K2 adult softball team in the 1980s. Bill played center field.
In Bill Burby’s 1989 obituary in The Beachcomber, he is bid farewell as “the voice of the pirates, a beloved teacher, coach and friend.” His name lives on each year in one of the Strawberry Festival’s most deep-rooted traditions and certainly won’t be forgotten.
Complete race results and additional photographs are on the opposite page.