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The Incubation of BURT

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The trails on Bainbridge island have long been extensive, growing, and not terribly well known.

In 2019, Mark Goodro and Chris Heiden talked longingly about the idea of connecting Bainbridge’s best trails – imagining a multi-loop 50k south of highway 305. Good with a map and incredibly focused with a mission, Mark started sending Chris hand drawn maps of obscure linkages of obscure trails.  Mark and Chris would go on to trade dozens of ideas for good trail connections – most of which were downright horrible (try running the west side of Meigs Park to Koura). 

Chris Heiden followed by Mark Goodro

BURT was born at 5:39AM on March 28, 2020.  That’s when - spurred by the cabin-fever of a global pandemic - Mark, Zach Woehr, and Chris set out on foot to connect 41 miles of Bainbridge Island’s best trails.  They started and finished at Chris’ house, because the Bainbridge Parks Department banned vehicles at trailheads in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Greg Snyders and Ben Kerby shunned the parking restrictions to donn masks and gloves and provide sanitary snacks at two points along the course. After nearly 9 hours of running, walking, and shuffling around the island, Chris and Mark (Zach went home early as planned – smart) ran into Keith Van Eaton in their final mile – a mile in which Mark insisted on sprinting to get on a Strava leaderboard. These were virtually the only people on the trails that day.

 

A Family Affair

On May 30, 2020, the first ‘friends and family’ BURT took place – starting and finishing at (the now open to vehicles) Battle Point Park. A dozen or so antsy ultra-runners and a few first-timers ran 50 miles around a single loop of Bainbridge trails (and some waterfront road). There was no course marking, so Mark led the ‘fast’ group and Chris led the ‘slightly less fast but still definitely super fast’ group along the course. It was an absolute soaker of a day - kicking off with a thunderstorm and raining from start to finish - but everyone finished, largely without incident.  There were waterstops on the course, a few snack drops, and Mark’s better half (Susanne) even stopped over at one park to pass out candy bars (well, at least for the ‘fast’ group…).  The BURT50 was a small step towards a legitimate ultra run on Bainbridge.

 

Going ‘Big’

After a successful BURT 50, the emerging BURT crew set their sights on an actual, fatass style event.  We endlessly tinkered with the course until it was just about perfect - a 33.3 mile loop starting and finishing at Battle Point Park.  On February 3, 2021, most of the 100 mile participants ran a night time reconnaissance loop.  It was clear that the BURT was going to be a special, community-centric event on a special course. And on February 27, 2021, after runners and non-runner volunteers spent hours flagging the course, setting up aid stations, and preparing for typical February weather in the Northwest…the first BURT 100 was off and running under clear skies and unseasonably warm weather. Riccardo Hoffman, Greg Nance, Greg Snyders, and Mark Goodro all completed 3 loops. A number of other BURT runners played it smart and completed a single loop. In 2021, we discovered that we had an event we weren’t going to be able to let go of. 

 

And despite the immense amount of work and stress that comes with organizing something as logistically challenging as the BURT - we remain committed.  Chris continued to serve as race director in a more full-time capacity for 2022 and 2023.  The running community in and around Bainbridge Island contributed their time, snacks, and expertise to making BURT work. The field grew.  Course marking became a significant priority.  Aid stations expanded beyond Cliff Bars to all kinds of ultra-fare.  BURT swag entered the picture.  And in 2023, we raised a significant amount of money for the Bainbridge Parks and Trails Foundation.  For the 2024 iteration, Chris has passed the baton to Leann Mullender.  She - alongside Ben Kerby, Keith Van Eaton, and Ryan Goldstein - are shepherding the BURT into its next iteration.  What about Mark?  He continues to make sure no one can get lost on the BURT course.  He’ll probably double the flags and signs again this year.  ~Chris Heiden

Read More

"War of attrition key to winning first BURT 100 on Bainbridge Island", Bainbridge Island Review

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