Onward Shay!


Story by Amanda Soza

Betsy Luce and Jan Bastain, two of the most energetic, women in Boise have made Boise the destination for a world-class Boston-qualifying marathon event for the past two years, attracting runners from all over the globe. Honoring their friend Shay Hirsch, who died after an 11-year battle with cancer, Jan and Betsy created the “Onward Shay!” race with the help of Shay’s husband, George. Onward Shay! is a tribute to Shay bringing runners together from all over the world, while giving back to the Boise community. “We are so happy to bring this event to Boise. It helps grow this city in a good way,” said Bastain.  Onward Shay! is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with proceeds going back into Boise nonprofits. Shay’s favorite book, The Wizard of Oz, serves as the theme for Onward Shay! with messages of courage, heart and bravery. These are the pillars of this race, mirroring Shay’s beliefs.

Celebrating its second year on October 29th, Onward Shay! is enjoyable for the entire family. This year, the race includes a kids’ race called, Run Toto Run, a 5K, and a 10K, all in addition to the half and full marathon. “We are excited to add the 5K and 10K distances this year. This makes the race accessible for every type of runner,” said Luce.

If you’re thinking about running a race this fall, Onward Shay! is it. Where else can you run alongside runner royalty like Amby Burfoot, Nancy Ditz, Nick Symmonds, Bart Yasso, Alexi Pappas, Dick Fosbury, Frank Shorter, and George Hirsch, while supporting an amazing cause? “The feedback we received last year was overwhelming,” said Bastain. The track itself is fast and flat, giving participants a glimpse of Boise’s finest. Runners will get a scenic tour of Boise’s best as they run through Harrison Boulevard, 13th Street, the North End, downtown Boise, Boise State University, Julia Davis Park and more. “This race showcases what makes Boise so great,” said Luce. “You’re running through the beautiful neighborhoods of Boise, while experiencing this amazing and giving community, from the participants to our sponsors.” This year the start and finish lines will be at Payette Brewing Company, one of the sponsors of this year’s race. They’ve created an exclusive brew just for the race called, Onward Shay! Ruby Red IPA, which will be available at the brewery during and after the race.

“Our greatest accomplishment is pulling this off. From becoming a 501(c)(3) organization, meeting with sponsors, getting permits to close the streets and marketing this event, making Onward Shay! happen was our goal from the beginning,” said Luce. “Boise can join the ranks with other major cities that have marathons and be a destination race, attracting runners from all over the world.” It’s no doubt that as Onward Shay! Continues, it will only get bigger and better, help grow Boise and establish a lasting tradition commemorating Shay Hirsch.”

Registration is now open for the Onward Shay! Run Toto Run Kids’ Race, 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon. In addition to the race, Bastain and Luce are also looking for volunteers. To register and learn more about this event, please visit onwardshay.com.