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New Governor’s Cup course highlights more of Columbia, surrounding area

2016 Governor's Cup Road Race course preview

Launched in 1973, the Lexington Medical Center Governor’s Cup Road Race is one of the oldest, continuously conducted road race events in the Southeast. Join us on May 14, 2016 for our 44th annual event. A NEW date, a NEW course, and a NEW era. The
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Launched in 1973, the Lexington Medical Center Governor’s Cup Road Race is one of the oldest, continuously conducted road race events in the Southeast. Join us on May 14, 2016 for our 44th annual event. A NEW date, a NEW course, and a NEW era. The

After 44 years, the Governor’s Cup Road Race, one of the oldest road races in the Southeast, is trying something new. Several somethings, actually.

Related content: Video preview of new Governor’s Cup course

The race is Saturday, May 14 and includes a kids’ fun run, a 5K and a half-marathon. This year, there is a new date, a new course and an additional run called the Main Street Mile.

Traditionally held in October, the race moved to May because “it was hard to continually dodge football games,” said Rick Noble, one of the race’s organizers.

From now on, the race will be held on the first Saturday after Mother’s Day.

Related content: The Governor’s Cup through the years

The course has been changed to pass more major attractions in Columbia and crosses the Congaree River for mileage in Cayce and West Columbia. Spirit corps, local groups from bagpipers to cheerleaders to steel drum bands, will be stationed about every half-mile to encourage runners.

“One of the main things we wanted to do is show off Columbia,” Noble said, adding that out-of-town runners often come to a city to sightsee as well as race.

The new Main Street Mile, on the night before the race, is also a fun way to encourage runners to come spend the night in Columbia before the half-marathon, Noble said.

Half-marathon runners will go through downtown Columbia, the Vista, West Columbia, Five Points, Shandon and the University of South Carolina on race day.

Go Columbia previewed the new course, and below we’ve shared our insights and maybe some little-known facts about what runners will see along the way.

Half marathon course map Governor’s Cup Road Race

Post office

The U.S. Post Office at 1600 Hampton Street was the original site of Columbia College. The women’s college was first called Columbia Female College and opened for classes in 1859. After a fire, it moved to its current location on North Main Street in 1905.

The U.S. Post Office at 1600 Hampton Street. Erin Shaw eshaw@thestate.com


Richland Street

Arguably one of prettiest stretches of the race, Richland Street shows off the old houses in the heart of downtown Columbia’s historic district. You’ll pass the Seibels House with its Doric columns, built circa-1796, and the Mann-Simons site, with its quaint house and white “ghost” structures. This street dead ends at the Governor’s Mansion, aka Gov. Nikki Haley’s pad.

The Mann-Simons site on Richland Street. Erin Shaw eshaw@thestate.com


Olympic Trials finish

From Richland Street, look right as you cross Main Street. In 1996, Columbia hosted the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. The finish line was between the Bank of America and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Jenny Spangler won the race in a stunning victory, with a personal best time of 2:29:54. On that day, in front of a crowd of 50,000 people on Main Street, Spangler became the first 1996 U.S. Olympian to qualify for a U.S. team, male or female, in any event.

Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials a proud moment in Columbia sports history

Jenny Spangler crosses the finish line to win the U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 1996. File photo Associated Press

Guignard Park

This Cayce park is not very visible from Knox Abbott Drive, yet it’s looking good after some recent renovations. The park is named after the Guignard family (pronounced GIN-yard, with a hard G, as in “get”), which for more than 200 years has been a local force to reckon with when it comes to land ownership.

Eric Brown and Tamieka Middleton both of Cayce, enjoy the day together at Guignard Park in Cayce. File photo The State

Blossom Street bridge

As you near the bridge, Cayce Fire Department firefighters will have a truck parked and ready to spray you with a cooling mist.

The Blossom Street bridge can be seen not to far from the trail that will soon be the River Alliance. (C. Aluka Berry-1019/01) File photo The State

Greek Village

After the Blossom Street bridge, the course loops you through the 20 red brick and white-columned houses in the University of South Carolina Greek Village. The university is about 20 percent Greek. Zeta Tau Alpha was the first sorority house to be built. Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Zeta Tau Alpha were the first frat houses.

The Greek Village at the University of South Carolina. Tracy Glantz tglantz@thestate.com

Saluda Avenue hill

Prepare yourself for this .3-mile climb around mile 9. Girls on the Run will be cheering from the bottom of the hill, and A.C. Flora High School cheerleaders will be egging you on as you near the top.

The Saluda Street hill at mile 9 is .3 miles long. Erin Shaw eshaw@thestate.com

Heyward Street house

As you head into Shandon, enjoy the glorious shade provided by the plentiful trees, and keep an eye out for the house on the right corner at Woodrow and Heyward streets. In 1999, Gov. Jim Hodges lived there with his family temporarily while the Governor’s Mansion was renovated. While nice and tidy-looking, the 4,200-square-foot house doesn’t compare to the sprawling 16,500-square-foot mansion.

The Heyward Street house is shown in a 1998 photo. File photo Associated Press

Laurens Street

After Shandon, you’ll go down Devine Street and into Five Points. You’ll hook a right on Laurens Street after running under the railroad trestle. The course used to go up Blossom and Sumter streets instead of turning here, but people complained about the race ending on such hilly note. Laurens Street will take you uphill, too, but for not nearly as long.

The turn onto Laurens Street in Five Points. Erin Shaw eshaw@thestate.com

Final stretch

The end of the races takes you down Pendleton Street and skirts the USC Horseshoe, but you’ll probably be too homed in on the finish to notice much. Town Theatre members will be singing and cheering for you here. You should be able to see the finish line once you cross Main Street by Which Wich.

Once you’re done, Flying Saucer will open at 11 a.m. for those wanting some celebratory suds.

If you go

44th annual Governor’s Cup Road Race

When: The half-marathon starts at 7 a.m. Saturday, May 14. The 5K run/walk starts at 7:30 a.m. The kids’ fun run starts at 8:30 a.m.

Where: The start line for the half-marathon and the 5K is in front of House of Fabrics at 1312 Main St. The kids’ fun run starts at the corner of Park and Pendleton streets.

The 5K finish line is at 1110 Park St. near Flying Saucer. The half-marathon finish line is near 1030 Pendleton Street behind Music Farm.

Cost: $80, half-marathon; $35, 5K; $10, kids’ fun run. Late registration is 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Expo at Hilton Columbia Center, 924 Senate St. There is no day-of registration.

Details: governorscupsc.org

Main Street Mile: 7 p.m. Friday, May 13 at 1801 Main St.