Sometimes all it takes to start a fire is a little spark.
That's the thought behind the Governor's Cup road races, which are held annually on the second Saturday in June. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana presents the annual event in Helena to provide people with a fun and festive opportunity to celebrate the benefits of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices with their friends and neighbors.
For more than 45 years, the Governor's Cup has sparked fires inside the bellies of numerous participants in the marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and Kids Fun Run, including 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Heather Lieberg. The Helena resident got her start running marathons in the Governor's Cup and said stories like hers are possible because of events like the Governor's Cup.
"Whether it's here in Helena at the Governor's Cup or somewhere else, the runners and other people participating are the same," Lieberg said. "They're happy and they're healthy or making an effort to be healthy. I think the Governor's Cup was a great place to start."
Dating back to the first race in 1974, the Governor's Cup has seen more than 150,000 participants cross the finish line with about 3,500 expected to take part annually. That's a lot of sparks and the hope is that most of those have resulted in fitness fires still burning hot.
The event's diverse menu of races sets the Governor's Cup apart, and the Kids Marathon adds to that tradition.
The Kids Marathon program is free and designed for elementary school students in the Helena area, with the hope to expand its reach in the coming years. Governor's Cup organizers are working with area schools to introduce a Governor's Cup training program that culminates with a 1-mile Fun Run around Centennial Park to complete the marathon distance and kick off the weekend's festivities.
Students who take part in the entire program receive a free T-shirt and entry into the Fun Run. But more importantly, the Kids Marathon is intended to provide students with an incentive to be more active and to enjoy the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices, which goes to the heart of the Governor's Cup's mission.
If you'd like to participate in the Governor's Cup, registration is open at www.govcupmt.com .
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Governor's Cup can email firstname.lastname@example.org.