Boise & Garden City

Hey runners, the Barber to Boise is back

The Barber to Boise was a fall tradition for many Treasure Valley runners and walkers.
The Barber to Boise was a fall tradition for many Treasure Valley runners and walkers.

Treasure Valley runners and walkers drifted away from the Barber to Boise over the past four decades — but many realized what was lost when the iconic family fun run disappeared last fall.

“A lot of people had a close-to-the-heart feeling about the event,” said Tim Severa, events and Tri-Club director for the Treasure Valley YMCA. “It was kind of the Bloomsday of Boise in the old days. We’re trying to return it to what it was, when it was the famous and big race.”

We think it’s worth a try.

Tim Severa, YMCA race coordinator, on reviving Barber to Boise

The race will be back on its original course on Boise Avenue, rather than primarily on the Greenbelt as it has been in recent years. The race finish will be at Ann Morrison Park.

The Barber to Boise, which in its first years was sponsored by the Statesman and called the Dam-Statesman, became a popular fitness run/walk for families. And for a long time, the October race was the last event of the fall in the Valley.

“It was a beautiful time of year, and it was kind of a fast course,” Severa said. “No matter how fast you were, you could get your best time.”

This year’s event will feature 10K and 5K races, and possibly a 1-mile run for kids. It’s set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. Registration cost hasn’t been set yet but it’ll be in the range of $25 to $35.

Severa said the YMCA is looking for one or more $5,000 title sponsors and 80 to 100 volunteers to help out.

The Barber to Boise attracted as many as 3,000 participants in its heyday, but it was on life support for many years before it was cancelled last year.

Flagging registration numbers caused the YMCA to pull the plug in 2008. The race was down to about 800 or 900 participants at that point.

“A lot of people were upset with the Y, and we always thought maybe that was a bad decision,” Severa said.

The race didn’t die that year because Valley race organizer Ryan Canning stepped in to keep it going. Canning and other local runners said the proliferation of fun runs and a busy fall calendar contributed to the demise of Barber to Boise.

Severa will organize 17 races for the YMCA this year, including five in October (now his busiest month for races). He believes the Barber to Boise will complement YMCA and other races that are occurring that month, and he expects 1,000 or more participants.

“I feel that it will be a good tuneup race for Onward Shay,” he said of the new full and half marathon scheduled for Oct. 30.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller