A little rain couldn’t wash away the excitement and smiles from runners at the 48th annual Governor’s Cup, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. Showers bookended the June 11 races, but in between participants crossed the finish line along historic Last Chance Gulch in the marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and marathon relay.
For the first time since 2019 it was a full Governor’s Cup experience, with the return of the wildly popular Kids Marathon and Mile Fun Run on June 10 at Centennial Park. More than 1,000 kids, almost all in bright purple shirts, kicked off Gov Cup weekend. The purple-clad harriers completed their final run of the Kids Marathon training program, which saw 16 schools and nearly 2,100 kids participate this year.
Long-time Governor’s Cup runner Alison FitzSimmons broke through and won her first championship, earning top honors in the women’s marathon with a time of 3:26:15. The Canyon Creek resident posted seven top-10 Gov Cup finishes in the marathon and half marathon dating back to 2011 before this year’s victory.
“Crossing the finish line of a marathon is such an incredible feeling of accomplishment, but to be the first woman finisher in a race I’ve always loved, with my family there cheering me on, was such a surprise and is a moment I will never forget,” FitzSimmons said. “I am grateful for such an amazing experience!”
Layne Ryerson, also of Helena, won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:39:49, while his brother, Clayton, finished third in the half marathon. Jonna Schwartz was the third local to earn top honors, winning the women’s half marathon in a time of 1:31:12. Overall, seven of the eight event champions hailed from the Big Sky state.
The Governor’s Cup serves as the primary fundraiser for the Caring Foundation of Montana, and this year the race raised more than $85,000 through race registration fees and sponsorships. The funds allow the foundation to help ensure Montanans have access to preventive health care services, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
“Access to affordable basic preventive health services is needed now more than ever and we’re incredibly grateful for everyone who supported the Governor’s Cup and have helped us continue serving individuals across the state,” said Kamille Kirchberg, the executive director of the Caring Foundation of Montana. “It’s inspiring seeing so many smiling faces cross the finish line, because I know not only are they improving their own health and wellness, but they’re helping to improve the health and wellness of their friends, family and neighbors.”
Nearly 300 volunteers donated their time to help make the race a success and ensure runners safely made their way from the starting line to the finish. The volunteers included nearly 60 BCBSMT employees.
Next year’s Governor’s Cup weekend is slated for June 9-10, 2023, in Helena.