When runners reach their respective starting lines on the morning of June 12, it will mark a return to in-person racing for the Governor’s Cup, which was forced to cancel last year due to the pandemic. Presented annually by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, race organizers are excited to be welcoming people back after a year’s absence.
Many runners, however, will have already completed their 2021 Governor’s Cup journey well before the start of the day’s first race.
That is because Governor’s Cup is offering virtual options this year in addition to hosting the annual race in-person. Participants can choose between the virtual 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon, and will have from June 5-12 to complete their respective races. All runners receive the same gear as those competing in person, including the race shirt, finisher’s medal and bag.
Race organizers incorporated a virtual option when registration first opened for this year’s Governor’s Cup. They wanted to provide people who weren’t ready to be part of large crowds or didn’t feel comfortable traveling an option to take part in the cup. Plus, there was uncertainty about whether the race would be able to happen in-person.
“It made a lot of sense to provide a virtual option with all of the uncertainty because of the pandemic,” said Jesse Zentz, Governor’s Cup assistant race director. “By offering a virtual option people can run their own race but still feel connected to the Governor’s Cup and receive the same race gear as everyone else.”
Local runner Rebecca Halford is signed up for the Governor’s Cup virtual half marathon because it allows her the flexibility to complete the race on her time and still receive the finisher’s medal. She can pick the day and time she runs, where she runs, and to a certain extent, work around the weather.
Halford has participated in several virtual races, completing races that were held in Kentucky, Utah, and Washington D.C., to name a few. She said while it may not be the same as running in a new city, it has allowed her to still be part of the running community during the pandemic.
“I have been able to participate in races virtually that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to because of the pandemic,” Halford said. “This means I've got some pretty cool medals to remind myself that my body is capable no matter my pace or time, in-person or virtually.”
Registration remains open for either the in-person races on June 12 or for the virtual runs. People can register at www.govcupmt.com.