Sunday, April 28, 2013

Governor's Cup @ 40

Courtesy of Jesse Zentz - here's a press release on the 40th Anniversary of the Governor's Cup.

Marathon returns for 40th Governor’s Cup

HELENA, Mont. – The Governor’s Cup is running back to its roots.
With the return of the marathon for the 40th annual event in Helena, participants will navigate a commemorative 26.2-mile course from Marysville to the Capital City – a scenic route featuring portions of courses used throughout the race’s rich history in Helena from 1976 to 2008.

The 2013 Governor’s Cup, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, will begin with the marathon at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 8, followed by the start of the half marathon at 7 a.m. The half marathon also will follow a commemorative course to celebrate the event’s fourth decade of providing Montanans and visitors with a healthy and fun activity for the entire family. Along with the longer events, the event will feature a 10-kilometer run/walk at 8 a.m., a 5K at 10 a.m., the Stuart Brownlow 400-meter Challenge at 10 a.m., and a 1-mile Fun Run at 11 a.m.

“For Montanans who are serious runners to those who just want to get in better shape, the Governor’s Cup coming up in June is a great incentive to get outside and start moving,” said Governor Steve Bullock, who will be participating in the event. “There’s tons of research that shows just how important exercise is to our physical and mental well-being, so I hope a record number of Montanans will join me in this year’s run.  Whether you’re 6 or 66, I encourage you to sign up for a great day of exercise and companionship.”

Mike Frank, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, will run the marathon.

“Throughout its rich history, the Governor’s Cup has been Montana’s marquee running event,” Frank said. “We are proud to offer a full spectrum of races that do so much to encourage a healthy lifestyle.”

Registration is open at Fees are $60 for the marathon, $50 for the half marathon, $20 for the 10K or 5K, $15 for the Fun Run, and $10 for the Stuart Brownlow 400-meter Challenge. A Family Fun Package is also available for $60, which includes four entries for the 10K, 5K, or Fun Run. All entrants will receive a T-shirt and race number.

The late Thomas L. Judge helped establish the Governor’s Cup in 1974 during his first of two terms as Montana’s governor, as the event was then sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. His son, Patrick, has competed in the event the past 33 years. The Governor’s Cup began in Bozeman in 1974, was held in Missoula the following year, and found a permanent home in Helena in 1976. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (then Blue Shield of Montana) became the event’s major corporate sponsor in 1979, beginning a successful relationship now in its 34th year.

“There aren’t many races in Montana with the depth of history enjoyed by the Governor’s Cup,” Patrick Judge said. “One of its most defining aspects has always been the diverse menu of races, offering multiple opportunities for families, fitness enthusiasts, fun-seekers, and serious competitors.”

The Governor’s Cup serves as a major fundraising event for the Caring Foundation of Montana and the Healthy Montana Kids Plan. The Caring Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization founded by BCBSMT in 1992, is exclusively dedicated to providing Montana children with access to health care benefits. For more information, visit or call 1-800-447-7828, ext. 7990. The Healthy Montana Kids dental plan, a program of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, provides free or low-cost health coverage for children up to age 19. For more information, visit or call 1-877-543-7669.



Patrick Judge, Helena
Son of late and former Governor Thomas L. Judge, who helped launch the event in 1974; past marathon (1999), 20K (1997), 10K (1993, 2011) champ; has run in the event the previous 33 years
“It’s exciting that Blue Cross has chosen to commemorate the 40th anniversary with the return of the ‘42K.’ Bringing back this marquee event, on the classic Marysville course, is a great tribute to the history of the race.”

“I think the founders of the Governor’s Cup would be well-pleased with its longevity, popularity, and overall success. I’m very proud of my dad’s role in helping launch the event with the support of the Governor’s Office, and for his personal enthusiasm for running. And I’m thrilled that the current Governor is building on that tradition.”

“There aren’t many races in Montana with the depth of history enjoyed by the Governor’s Cup. One of its most defining aspects has always been the diverse menu of races, offering multiple opportunities for families, fitness enthusiasts, fun-seekers, and serious competitors. In my view, it’s always been one of the key ‘must run’ events on the Montana racing circuit. The race options and overall festival atmosphere are great for anyone looking for a healthy and fun Saturday morning activity. There’s a reason it consistently draws such large crowds.”

“I’m really grateful for all the sponsors, volunteers, and participants that have made the event possible over the last four decades, and really impressed with the current organizational team. Here’s to 40 more years!”

Fondest memory: “Winning the Marathon in 1999, during my 20th running of the Governor’s Cup.”

Karen Gall, Billings

Women’s marathon record-holder; also past winner of 20K, 10K, and 5K

“The Governor’s Cup was our state’s marathon and the flagship of all the Governor’s Cup races. The return of the marathon puts the meat back into the event.”
“It is my hope that Governor’s Cup continues to grow and reach more people through this fun, healthy lifestyle opportunity. The races at Governor’s Cup helped me set and realize some personal goals.”

“By running every distance at Governor's Cup I got to know the lay of the land of our state Capitol and also just how deficient I was in hill work. Each Governor’s Cup was memorable and the setting is beautiful. It has always been the reunion of running friends that I enjoyed most.”

“My fondest racing memory in Helena was my one run of the Governor's Cup marathon. It was a beautiful crisp morning in June when we started in Marysville. It was a day when everything felt right. Great scenery, great volunteers, and a great event.”

Tony Banovich, Plains

Past winner of men’s marathon, 20K, 10K, 5K, and marathon relay

“It's great that the marathon is being brought back into the race carnival. Having the four events all taking place on one day creates a race environment that is unique to Montana.”

“While the 5K may be the race of the masses, the marathon is the race of the committed distance runner. It’s also a race that has seen the best distance runners in Montana over the last 40 years, including Jim Hatcher, Stan Zezotarski, Cyle Wold, Dave Coppock, Matt Storrud, and Karen Gall. It's exciting to see that the event will again be part of the Governor's Cup weekend and a new generation of runners can add their name to the race history.”

“I've always enjoyed the concept of the Governor’s cup. It’s part social. It’s part competition. But, most importantly, it’s a great event to encourage a fit, healthy, active lifestyle. And I want to thank Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana for their long sponsorship of this event. It’s certainly been an important part of my running career, and I know that it’s greatly influenced many other athletes within Montana.”

“(Entering the 1994 marathon,) I had already won the 5K, 10K and 20K in previous years and was trying to win the marathon to complete the ‘collection.’ I was in the lead at about half-way, when my quads got very tight and sore at the top of the Birdseye Hills. I desperately wanted to drop out, but couldn't bring myself to drop while in the lead. So, I kept gutting it out – having built about a 10 minute lead by the time we passed Fort Harrison – and got the win. Winning all four of the races and being the only man to do so is one of my fondest memories and proudest achievements.”

Dave Coppock, Billings

Record five-time winner of men’s marathon (1987, 88, 90, 92, 95)

 “My fondest memory would have to be the first time I won it in 1987. I think it was in the mid 2:30s or so, but I was really happy to finally get a win. It made it all the better that I, literally, went home empty handed all those years prior taking a whole lot of seconds and thirds.”

 “I had always heard of the Governor’s Cup since I went to school at UM in the ’70s. It was the premier marathon and maybe the only marathon in the state then. The quality and depth of the field was a lot higher back then because there were a lot of post-collegiate runners getting into road racing. Plus there was a running and marathon boom taking place (1976-80s), so it was very competitive out there.

“I remember that if you placed second or third in the marathon, you didn’t even get recognized at the event – you just went home. So, I felt like it was all or nothing. It was a shame for a good marathoner to go home empty-handed like that. I know a lot of other guys who were a little bitter about running a good, fast marathon, placing second or third and feeling sort of snubbed. There was no comparison to what the 5K runners were doing and a guy who could run a sub-2:30 on that course.”

“People didn’t realize how tough that course was with the long downhill from Marysville at the start, the rolling Birdseye Hills in the middle and the uphill finish. If you didn’t run a smart early race, your legs were shot in the last 10K. It runs a lot like Boston in that respect.

“I did think it was great and unique race – starting in Marysville, seeing everyone from around the state at the finish. It was a great time to be with old running friends – sort of like a big runners’ convention.”


1. Senator Max Baucus became the first U.S. Senator to finish a full marathon when he crossed the finish line in Helena in 1979 at age 38.

2. Dave Coppock, now the head cross country and track and field coach at Montana State University Billings, is the only five-time winner of the Governor’s Cup marathon, earning the top spot in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1995.

3. Plains’ Tony Banovich and Billings’ Karen Sanford-Gall are the only man and woman to have won four different individual distances at the Governor’s Cup (5K, 10K, 20K, and marathon). The 20K gave way to the half marathon in 2000. Banovich also has a marathon relay victory to his credit.

4. Deer Lodge’s Nicole Hunt owns three records at the Governor’s Cup. In 1997, she established the 20-kilometer benchmark of 1:16:00. That distance is no longer contested. In 2003, she set the 5K record with a time of 17:12, and in 2005, she established the 10K record at 35:43.

5. Kirk Keller won a whopping five consecutive 10K championships from 1982 to 1986. Kalispell’s Bill Brist, who won the 5K titles in 1985 and 1986, snapped Keller’s streak with the 10K title in 1987.

6. Helena’s own Heather Lieberg won the two most recent women’s marathon titles, taking the top spot in 2007 with a time of 3:07:49 and winning in 2008 with a time of 3:00:10. Last April, Lieberg placed 30th among women at the Boston Marathon in 3:01:00, and in January, she ran a personal best of 2:47:13 at the Phoenix P.F. Chang Rock and Roll Marathon.

7. The Governor’s Cup – for many years host of Montana’s only marathon – is now home to one of seven marathons in the state. It is, however, the first Montana-based marathon on the 2013 calendar.

8. Despite the proliferation of marathons in the Treasure State, the Governor’s Cup remains home to the fastest time posted in the event. In 1982, Helena’s Jim Hatcher won in 2:20:35 – a pace of 5:22 per mile.

9. Seventeen runners toed the line for the first Governor’s Cup marathon on May 27, 1974, in Bozeman. Missoula’s Ian Christopherson won that race in 2:49:00.

10. The Governor’s Cup was first contested in 1974. Here’s a look back at some fun facts from that year:

  • U.S. president Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
  • Hank Aaron became the all-time MLB home run leader on April 8 when he hit his 715th homer.
  • George Forman knocked out Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle” for the world heavyweight boxing championship.
  • Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” was named Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
  • Estimate of the world population reaches 4 billion. The current estimate is nearing 7.1 billion.
  • The Rubik’s Cube puzzle was invented.
  • The 55 mph speed limit was imposed throughout the U.S. to preserve gas usage.
  • “The Godfather, Part II” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

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