My previous post was all about training my kids to run a 10K in my hometown. As that post mentions, I also ran the half marathon that day. I haven’t historically done race recaps on this site but I’m going to give it a try both as a way to document the race for my own memory as well as to provide a format to share race info with fellow runners.
The Governor’s Cup race series is held annually in June in Helena, Montana. The series includes a kids race, 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon. The half and full marathon courses were new courses this year. Having not run this race previously, I can’t really compare and contrast.
Online registration is easy. The website is reasonably well done. I loved the videos of the course. I had a question that I posed via the Facebook site which was answered within hours. I didn’t attend packet pick up as I was working that day and driving in late from out of town. My dad was able to pick up packets for myself and my daughters. Totally appreciate that they allowed that to happen.
Race day started at 7:00 AM. There were buses to the start but I hitched a ride with my dad because it allowed me an extra half hour of sleep. Getting to the start was relatively easy but not well marked for those venturing by private car. To be fair, the race organizers definitely encouraged taking the bus. With the help of the locals, however, I made it to Clancy Elementary School where the start line was with plenty of time to spare. There was water and gels at the start. Bag drop was very easy at the start line. There were ample porta potties. So, so exciting!
Weather was nice with starting temps in the mid 50’s. By the time I finished just shy of two hours later the temperatures were definitely warming up and were close to 70. One advantage of the new route is that the start is somewhat cool and you are protected by the shadows of the mountains for the first half of the race.
We started on time with a nice, gentle downhill. The course is all on paved road with limited traffic. Great course monitors helped keep the little traffic that there was where it belonged. The course is very scenic with beautiful mountain scenery for much of the race. The first 9 miles or so are hilly with lots of ups and downs. I felt great until about mile 6 when the ups and downs started to wear on a lower back and hamstring issue that had been plaguing me for weeks. Regardless, the hills are real. None are too big but they do start to feel relentless. There is a relatively long climb coming out of Montana City going into Helena then there is a short stretch of relative flat. At mile 10 you get the climb “Cardiac Hill”. I really didn’t find it that steep, it just lasted forever. The last mile and a half is mostly downhill until you turn onto the walking mall which is a slight uphill grade. On a normal day I wouldn’t even notice the grade but after having my legs trashed on hills for the previous 12.5 miles, I noticed it. It felt like a cruel joke. As always, thought, the finish line came into sight and I crossed it, feeling completely worn out in a pretty good way.
On course support was good with aide stations approximately every 2 miles, more frequently at the end. There was water and Gatorade as well as gels which I did not partake in. One station towards the end had a sprinkler set up which was heavenly. Multiple porta potties along the route as well. I did find on course spectators, lacking, however. There were very few people along the route, even along the finish chute. One of the things I love about racing are the spectators who are out on a Saturday or Sunday morning, cheering on random strangers. There was almost none of that at this race which I found disappointing. Once I finished, I did my part and went back along the route, cheering and clapping for runners coming in.
The finish line was extremely well stocked. The marathon and half marathon runners had their own finish line tent with great foods, cold bottles of water, and cold cans of soda. Probably one of the best finish lines I have ever seen in terms of quality and quantity of post race fuel and fluids.
All things considered, certainly a well organized, well executed race with a scenic and well supported course. So come run in Montana, and if you live in Helena, let’s see you out on the race course next year!