Helena area runners stand out as Governor’s Cup returns to full lineup – Independent Record

Helena area runners stand out as Governor’s Cup returns to full lineup  Independent Record

The 48th Annual Governor’s Cup was held Saturday in Helena. Nearly 1000 runners took part in the 5k run.

Gary Marshall BMGphotos.com

Chris Peterson

For a few moments Saturday morning, the rain threatened to put a damper on the 48th running of the Governor’s Cup.

But the heavy rains didn’t last for long and that didn’t come close to stopping the more than 1,800 runners, from approximately 35 states that ran in a variety of races on Saturday morning.

It’s been a good year for Helena-area runners and that trend continued in the Governor’s Cup as Helena’s Layne Ryerson took home the title in the men’s marathon. The former Carroll College runner and Helena High state tennis champion in 2015, ran a 2:39:49, with a 6:06 pace to cross the finish line first 

“It feels really good,” Ryerson said. “I’ve been training for a while this year and finally been able to get on a schedule. I just had a great feeling and there were a lot of great people. The rain made it a little bit tough but it’s just a blessing to be able to get out and run.”

“It’s a beautiful morning in Montana,” he added. “You can’t beat that.” 

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Layne has been doing that, running, a lot lately, with his brother and current Carroll College cross country runner Clayton Ryerson, who took third in the half-marathon.

“It felt really good,” Clayton said after at time of 1:14:52. “He ran the marathon and it’s more miles obviously, but it’s a lot of similar stuff. So it was cool to be able to come up with a plan and work through it together. This is the second half-marathon that I’ve done I’m excited to keep doing them.”

Continuing the trend of Helena High runners (or those with connections to HHS) doing well, Jonna Schwartz, who is an assistant Helena High cross country coach from Clancy, took home the title in the women’s half-marathon (1:31.12). Schwartz held off Renae Parker, also of Clancy, who won the Class B 3,200 meter state title for Jefferson recently.

“I didn’t know about that one (Parker),” Schwartz said. “And at snow joke, I was leading and this young woman with long brown hair came striding past me. I got a chance to talk with her. I knew she was running today and we talked a little bit before the race.”

Yet, despite the challenge from Parker, Schwartz was still able to win the Governor’s Cup for the first time. 

“It’s surreal,” she said. “It’s your hometown race and just being part of the running community here, and the high school running community here, and being around all these inspiring young women, having a chance to have a day like this out here, it’s a really great feeling for sure.”

Micah Drew of Kalispell was the first runner across the finish line in the morning as he took first in the half-marathon. The former Montana Grizzly cross country/track runner finished in 1:12:39 to successfully defend his title from a year ago. 

“We thought we were going to have beautiful weather when we got to the start and then there was a downpour for about the first two miles. But it cleared up. It was beautiful and it’s just such a great race every time I come down here. I’m really glad they were able to bring everything back.”

In the distance races though, the marathon and half-marathon, it was mostly a day of firsts.

The women’s marathon also had a first-time winner as Alison FitzSimmons of Canyon Creek won with a time of 3:26.15, even if it came as a surprise.

“I thought there were more ladies ahead of me,” she said. “And I talked to the lady on the bike and she was like, ‘You’re the first female.’ I was like, ‘What?’ So then my goal was just to run my race. I had no idea who was behind me. It was super exciting. It felt so awesome. I had my four kids, my mom and my husband here. Super, super special.”

Her husband is former Carroll College star tight end and Detroit Lion Casey FitzSimmons, who knows a thing or two about winning things in Helena.

Yet, Allison stole the spotlight on Saturday and shared it with her sister-in-law, Mallory Frank.

“I run the half a lot and I’ve run the full (marathon) when it was the other course,” she said. “But last year I got hurt running the full. And so I was like, ‘I’m gonna come back and conquer this.’ And my sister-in-law took third, it’s just all super exciting.”

Sam Read of Spokane was the first to cross the finish line in the men’s 10K (36:29.80), while the female winner was Riley Crissman of Butte (39:13.00). 

Patrick Judge, 52, who was competing in his 42nd Governor’s Cup, captured the 10K Masters title with a time of 42:27. 

“I was happy to run my 42-something,” texted the 1999 GC marathon champion who finished seventh among the men in the 10K. “Of course, the slightly short route assisted with that, but I’ll take it.” 

Patrick’s late father, Gov. Tom Judge, co-founded the original Governor’s Cup with Clayton Linebarger in 1974.

Whitehall’s Nicole Murray won her 18th race overall at the Governor’s Cup, an event record, by winning the women’s 5K with a time of 19:53.14. She also finished with the second-best time among females in the 10K.

20-year old Justin Morgan of Thompson Falls was the male winner of the 5k after running a time of 16:42.82. 

The three marathon relay teams that won were Wish we were cheetahs (women, 3:53.04), Team Photos (men 2:48.37) and Scott’s Tots (co-ed 3:26.53). 

The full results can be found here

Curt Synness contributed to this report 

Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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