Tough BURT 100 course on BI wins again

The BURT 100 on Bainbridge Island is a tough course.

“For the second year in a row, the BURT course won,” event coordinator Chris Heiden said, adding none of the three 100 milers was able to finish.

After 24 hours, 19 runners had finished the 55K course. “It’s a tough race. It’s not for everybody. But a lot of people finished the 55K,” Heiden said.

“The hardest part of this is not actually the distance or the vert (vertical). It’s just how long and cold the night is and how lonely it is. It’s the style of race that means you don’t have eight stations pumping out music every six miles in the middle of the night,” Heiden said.

“It’s a mental game here where you’ve got to do nighttime navigation. You’re largely on your own unless you buddy up with another runner. Getting your head around, ‘I’m going to be alone, tired, frustrated, in all parts of negative emotions all night long, and I gotta manage that and stay on pace.’ That’s really hard.”

The first 100-mile runner dropped out due to respiratory issues stemming from a COVID infection in January. The second runner dropped out in the middle of the second loop due to shooting nerve pain from his leg up to his shoulder. The third runner, Brian Spears, finished his race after the second loop. The 100 miler is three times around the loop through BI’s iconic forest trails with slippery slopes and elevation accumulation of up to 4,000 feet.

Spears is from Yelm and had only run two ultra races before attempting the BURT 100 and is planning to run the Tahoe 200 in June, the Bigfoot 200 in August and the Moab 240 in October. Before the race started, Spears said he was aiming for a 15-minute mile pace and would be running out with another runner to learn as much as possible.

Spears was declared the winner of the 110K in 27 hours. The men’s winner of the 55K was Chris DeNucci in 5 hours, 5 minutes. The top female runner was Leann Mullender in 8 hours, 35 minutes. The last-place person finished in 10.5 hours.

Heiden said that the motivating factor for many of the runners is that it’s not for the faint of heart.

“The course is really, really hard to do three laps,” Heiden said. “Off-island runners are surprised by the hilly terrain because the numbers don’t make it seem that hard. It’s about 4,000 feet of elevation per 35-mile loop, and for a mountain 100-miler that’s pretty pedestrian.”

Runners come out of the Grand Forest on to McRedmond Road.

Runners come out of the Grand Forest on to McRedmond Road.