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Onward Shay! marathon: 1,200 runners and 10 legends in Boise

Onward Shay! Boise Marathon is a perfect tribute to Shay Hirsch

George Hirsch, founder of the New York City Marathon, remembers his wife of 28 years, Shay Hirsch, who died in 2014. Onward Shay! Boise Marathon has been organized by two of Shay's Boise friends — with advice from Hirsch — in honor of Shay. Hirsch
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George Hirsch, founder of the New York City Marathon, remembers his wife of 28 years, Shay Hirsch, who died in 2014. Onward Shay! Boise Marathon has been organized by two of Shay's Boise friends — with advice from Hirsch — in honor of Shay. Hirsch

The Onward Shay! Boise Marathon, which starts at noon Sunday, was created to honor Shay Hirsch, a longtime Boisean and runner who died of cancer in 2014.

BY THE NUMBERS

About 1,200 runners have registered for the half marathon and full marathon, race director Keith Hughes said Thursday. He said about 60 percent are from Idaho and 40 percent are from out of state.

Hughes said the number of in-state runners for another inaugural marathon might be closer to 90 percent, but this marathon got a boost from out-of-state marketing. A large reason for that is George Hirsch, Shay’s husband. He is the chairman of the board of the New York Road Runners and that group helped get the word out nationally — and even internationally.

About 300 children (ages 2-12) will run in the Run Toto Run Kids Race at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Boise High track.

RUNNING WITH LEGENDS

Co-organizer Jan Bastian said 10 significant figures of the running world have committed to attend, including George.

▪ Dick Andersen: Executive of the Sun Valley Corporation and longtime competitive runner.

▪ Gabriele Andersen: Competed in the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984. She famously willed herself to the finish, where she collapsed while suffering dehydration and heat exhaustion.

▪ Amby Burfoot: Winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and longtime editor of Runner’s World.

▪ Dick Fosbury: Inventor of the Fosbury Flop who won a gold medal in the high jump in 1968.

▪ Bill Rodgers: Former American record-holder in the marathon who is best known for his four victories in the Boston and New York City marathons. Winner of 22 marathons, overall.

▪ Joan Samuelson: First women’s Olympic marathon champion (1984), and a former world record-holder in the event.

▪ Frank Shorter: Winner of the 1972 Olympic marathon, a TV commentator and public speaker.

▪ Nick Symmonds: Bishop Kelly grad, two-time Olympian, six-time U.S. champion in the 800.

▪ Mary Wittenberg: Longtime president and CEO of the New York Road Runners.

The runners will compete in relays with others who registered to race with them. Those spots have been filled, but other relay teams can still register and compete against the “legends.”

ABOUT THE COURSE

The race starts at the new Payette Brewing location (733 Pioneer) near the Pioneer Path on River Street.

Organizers designed the course to be flat and fast, hoping to attract runners who are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The race is a Boston Marathon qualifier, though registration for the 2017 race is closed. Runners in Boise on Sunday can qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon, based on their time.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

▪ 9 a.m. Saturday: Run Toto Run Kids Race

▪ 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Expo and packet pickup at JUMP (fifth floor)

▪ 10 a.m. Sunday: Same-day packet pickup at Payette Brewing.

▪ Noon: Race starts

▪ 2:15 p.m.: Half marathon awards and finish festival at Payette Brewing

▪ 5 p.m.: Marathon awards and finish festival at Payette Brewing

▪ 6 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Course closes

THE PAYOFF

The finish festival includes a special offering from Payette Brewing: Onward Shay! Ruby Red IPA.

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