More than 2,200 hit Helena streets for annual Governor’s Cup races

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:41:21-04

(HELENA) The annual Montana Governor’s Cup came with sunny skies and warm temperatures in the Helena area.

“The weather was perfect – it got a bit warm, but we made sure runners stayed hydrated,” said race director Bryan Haines. “There were smiling faces crossing the finish line, we had a record-breaking performance in the half-marathon and overall you couldn’t have asked for a better day for the 45th annual Governor’s Cup.”

More than 2,200 runners took to the streets Saturday morning, for marathon, half-marathon, 10K and 5K races.

The first runner to cross the finish line, just after 8 a.m., was Missoula’s Mark Messmer, winning the men’s half-marathon in one hours and nine minutes – the fastest time recorded at the Governor’s Cup. Messmer won the Governor’s Cup marathon last year.

Nico Composto, who also lives in Missoula, took first place in the men’s marathon, finishing in two hours and 39 minutes.

“It felt awesome to be done, because I was really tired,” he said. “The last two miles, I was just praying to get to the finish.”

This was Composto’s first time running the Governor’s Cup, though he has done some trail racing in Helena. He said he will definitely consider coming back.

“I thought it was really enjoyable,” he said. “The course was beautiful. It was hard – the last 13 miles were definitely hillier than I had anticipated – but I would say it was a really awesome race, really fun course.”

Each runner who completed the marathon or half-marathon received a finisher’s medal.

Both of the longer races had new courses this year. Marathoners began outside Jefferson City at 6 a.m., while half-marathon runners started at 7 a.m. at Clancy School. The 10K began at 8 a.m., near the Holter Museum of Art.

The largest group of racers took part in the 5K, which started at 10 a.m. Gov. Steve Bullock was among the more than 900 participants.

Sheila Plant, of Clancy, ran the 5K along with her 12-year-old daughter Bria. She encouraged people to try a race for themselves.

“It’s just very fun to come out here and compete and be with everybody,” she said.

Haines said organizers are happy to offer a fun event for people of all ages and abilities.

“There was a race distance for everyone, and everyone had a great time today,” he said.

This year, for the first time, the Governor’s Cup served as the primary fundraiser for the Caring Foundation of Montana. It brought in nearly $90,000 for the foundation.

The money will be used to support Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana’s Care Van program, a partnership with local health agencies to bring vaccinations and other needed screenings to underserved parts of the state.

“Our first year, we couldn’t ask for anything more than that,” Haines said. “It’s a fantastic boost.”

Marisa Ruhter of Kent, Washington, won the women’s marathon, and Keely Baker of Great Falls finished first in the women’s half-marathon. In the 10K, Sam Read of Bozeman won the men’s race, while Heather Lieberg of Helena won the women’s race. Ismael Arzola of Lemmon, South Dakota, was the top-finishing man in the 5K, and Nicole Murray of Whitehall was the top-finishing woman.

You can find the full race results at the Governor’s Cup website.