The 40th annual Governor’s Cup Road Race got off to a brisk but festive start with approximately 2,173 runners taking part in a number of the event’s races in downtown Columbia Saturday.
Sponsored by Lexington Medical Center, the cup included a half-marathon, 8K, 4-mile walk and kid’s cup.
One of the oldest, most well-established running events in the region, the Governor’s Cup attracts many of the same runners every year. But for a lot of participants, the race was a first.
“If they did it any later (in the day), I would probably be tempted not to do it,” said Emily Goorsky, of Peachtree City, Ga. Goorsky joked that with such an early start time, her body would still be asleep by the time it realized what was going on.
Part of a group of four going through “officer’s training” at the Adjutant General’s Corps headquartered at Fort Jackson, Goorsky was running her first half-marathon – and she was a little nervous.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” she said, standing on the State House steps in near dark Saturday morning. “But it’s been on my bucket list for awhile.”
Across the State House lawn, Don Rozier, of Lexington, was busy stretching his hamstrings in preparation for the competition’s 8K.
For Rozier, the Governor’s Cup was not the only first. The 64-year-old was getting back into running after having “a couple” of knee surgeries, and this was his first big race since.
As part of his return to physical fitness, Rozier joined the “HD running group,” a group made up mostly of Lexington Medical Center staff and employees of the center’s Health Directions Wellness Facility.
Members get up at 5:45 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to run either together or on their own. When asked what motivated him to run in the cold and dark, Rozier said he “had no idea.”
“I frequently ask myself that same question,” he said laughing.
Saturday’s race was also a first for young people. Some 225 children – many of them girls – ran the one-mile kid’s run.
Elizabeth Burnworth, one of four coaches for Midway Elementary School’s Girls on the Run program, said running has made all the difference for those she mentors.
The national program which promotes self respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls was this year’s title charity for the Governor’s Cup. Midway’s “Girls on the Run” meet twice a week after school.
“But it’s so much more than just a running club,” she said. “You can definitely see their self-esteem grow.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.