It’s called the Governor’s Cup Road Race, though most of the runners care more about doing their best than about beating other runners to the finish line.
But last year, the half marathon event also had a compelling couple of races.
Charleston’s Michael Banks, who prefers shorter distances, turned on a remarkable kick coming up the final hill to hold off Kennedy Kemei, a Kenyan living in Chapel Hill, N.C. Banks’ time of 1:06:25.28 was the fourth-fastest ever at the Governor’s Cup.
Meanwhile, a few hundreds yards back, Kenyan Joan Tangwar’s only competition was history. The Chapel Hill resident finished 75 seconds before the second-place female. Her time of 1:16:57.14 edged the previous race record of 1:16:58 set by Julia Kirtland in 1996.
Banks is expected to run again Saturday, but he will have different challengers. Kemei and Tangwar didn’t plan to return.
Race organizers expect more than 1,000 runners for the 42nd edition of the event, and they hope even more people come out to the course to cheer everyone from those elite runners to the novices who need a boost on the course’s tough hills.
Once again, several recruited spirit groups will be stationed along the course from the State House start to the Forest Acres to encourage runners with music and special cheers.
It’ll be a festive affair for everyone except motorists who don’t plan ahead. Major streets likely to be closed briefly in the 8 a.m.-11 a.m. period include Wheat, Duncan, Blossom, Kilbourne, Kathwood, Milford, Quail and Shady.