HELENA — Governor’s Cup race officials announced today changes to the annual event geared toward being able to safely host runners in person on June 12, 2021. Presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT), race staff has been working with local health officials and BCBSMT leadership to create a plan for a return this year after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of 2020’s race weekend.
Changes to this year’s Governor’s Cup include:
- The following in-person races will be held, with participation caps:
- Marathon – Capped at 375 runners. Start time at 6 a.m. Race caps may be adjusted, and race could be started in two smaller waves, depending on local health department restrictions.
- Half Marathon – Capped at 375 runners. Start time at 7 a.m. Race caps may be adjusted, and race could be started in two smaller waves, depending on local health department restrictions.
- 5K – Capped at 1,200 runners. Three waves of 400. Start times at 9:30, 10 and 10:30 a.m.
- The 10K, Marathon Relay, Mile Fun Run, and Kids Marathon Final Mile will not be held in 2021.
- The Kids Marathon training program will not be held in 2021.
- Virtual options remain for 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon.
- Spectators will be discouraged at the start or finish lines, and there will not be an awards ceremony.
- Runners will be asked to wear masks, and all race officials and volunteers will wear masks. Runners will not need to wear their mask after they start their race. Runners will be asked to put their masks back on when they cross the finish line.
- There will be hand sanitizing stations, changes to the flow of packet pickup and additional safety protocols.
These modifications were made to provide everyone involved with race weekend, from runners to volunteers, the opportunity to return to running in person in a safe environment.
“First of all, I want to thank Lewis and Clark Public Health and Jefferson County Public Health, as well as all health care workers, for everything they have done and continue doing during the pandemic,” said Bryan Haines, Governor’s Cup race director. “With more people getting vaccinated, combined with reasonable limitations on the size of the race fields and safety protocols, we feel we are on a path to welcome runners in person this June.”
Race officials made the decision to cap the number of runners in the marathon and half marathon, as well as have three waves of the 5K, to limit congestion at the start and finish lines. Additionally, the three 5K waves will cut down on congestion throughout the course during the event’s most popular race.
The decision to remove the 10K and marathon relay from this year’s event menu was made to avoid overcrowding at several points, including placing runners on buses, the starting and finish lines, and throughout the course. By not holding these races in 2021, it also reduces the number of volunteers and race staff needed, which will potentially limit interactions between people.
The popular Kids Marathon program will not be offered in 2021. Race staff understands the logistics required to host the training sessions in schools across Helena and the surrounding area would be too difficult. By not hosting the Friday night Fun Run, it allows for flexibility if changes need to be made to the race.
“Since we opened registration last November, our goal has been to safely hold an in-person event,” Haines said. “There is still work to do by everyone to help get us to the starting line on June 12. This year’s race will look a little different, but what will remain the same is the feeling of accomplishment when crossing the finish line.”
BCBSMT understands the important role it has in promoting physical and mental health. The race’s mission has always been to encourage health and wellness in a family-friendly environment. Not only that, BCBSMT leadership knows that while great progress has been made in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, now is not the time to completely relax and no longer take safety precautions.
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue trending downward across the state and in Helena,” said Dr. David Lechner, BCBSMT chief medical officer. “Combine that encouraging news with COVID-19 immunization rates increasing not only in Montana, but across the country, and that is allowing for the Governor’s Cup to return as an in-person event this year with safety measures in place. It is important, however, that everyone continue doing the things that have helped get us to this point, and that includes wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home when sick.”
Governor’s Cup officials will continue working with health officials as race weekend gets closer. Although Lewis and Clark Public Health recently lifted all COVID-19 restrictions besides masks, those restrictions may be reinstated if cases increase. Adjustments to race weekend, including the potential of moving races from in-person to virtual, may still need to occur depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on the Governor’s Cup, including registration and COVID-19 updates, please go to www.govcupmt.com.