(HELENA) Final preparations were underway Friday for the annual Governor’s Cup races in Helena.
At the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Helena, hundreds of registered runners came in for the “Packet Pickup.” Each received a race number and a T-shirt.
Jesse Zentz, the assistant race director, said more racers registered than last year. He expected about 2,200 or 2,300 participants, between the marathon, half-marathon, 10K race and 5K race. Runners come from more than 40 of Montana’s 56 counties, more than 30 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, and even as far away as Germany.
Connie Klotz is the administrator at the Masonic Home of Montana. She picked up race packets for 14 of her employees. They have been running as a team for four years.
“We look forward to this every year,” she said. “It’s a great time for our staff to get together as a team and do something fun outside of work, be involved with our community and enjoy all that Helena has to offer.”
This year, the marathon and half-marathon will feature new routes, starting from south of Helena instead of north. The marathon runners will start outside Jefferson City, while the half-marathon will begin at Clancy School.
Zentz said the new courses will give the runners a chance to travel through new areas.
“They’ll be coming into town, going by the Capitol building, going by the old and the new Governor’s Mansion, so they’ll get to taste some of the historic sites that they haven’t in the past, coming in from the other side of the town,” he said.
He said the new routes also feature more tree cover.
“That’s going to be great, considering the weather’s going to be a little warmer than normal,” he said.
All four races wrap up with a run down Last Chance Gulch to the finish line near the Lewis and Clark Library. On Friday afternoon, crews were bringing in fencing to mark the route along the Walking Mall.
“If you can find a place on the chute and cheer for the runners as they make it up the Walking Mall, that’d be fantastic,” Zentz said. “It’s a moderate climb, so they’re going to be tired, they’re going to need that boost of energy from the fans.”
That energy is what keeps people like Connie Klotz coming back.
“We love the Governor’s Cup,” she said. “We’ll be doing it again next year.”
Organizers say the marathon, half-marathon and 10K runners are likely to start arriving at the finish line between 8 and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The 5K race will start at 10 a.m., so those runners will arrive later. You can find more information about the schedule and the race in general at www.govcupmt.com.
All the registration fees and sponsorship money from the Governor’s Cup will go toward the Caring Foundation of Montana. The Foundation provides financial support for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana’s Care Van program, a partnership with local public health agencies to provide vaccinations and other health services in underserved areas.