Governor's Cup set to debut new course

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Governor's Cup Road Race, one of the area's oldest running events, has undergone a major transformation leading into its 44th annual affair.

In addition to a dramatic course change and race distance adjustments, the event has moved from its normal fall position on the calendar to spring in order to avoid football season and having to compete with a large number of fall events.

Starting in 2016, the race will now take place on May 14, Saturday following Mother's Day, joining several other Midlands late-winter/early-spring long distance races, including the Columbia Run Hard and Newberry Half Marathons in March, the Palmetto Half Marathon in early-April and the off-road Firebreak Half Marathon in early-May.

The "new and improved" Governor's Cup's course connects major sites in downtown Columbia, as well as across the Congaree River with a finish line located near the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the Congaree Vista.

Previously, the mainly out-and-back half-marathon course took runners from the State House east through residential rolling neighborhoods before returning through Five Points and finishing on the University of South Carolina campus.

The new course starts on Main Street and weaves through downtown Columbia before moving into West Columbia over the Gervais Street Bridge. From there, runners make their way through parts of Cayce and back into Columbia via the Blossom Street Bridge. The course continues on Blossom Street to Five Points. The much-maligned final mile ascent up Blossom Street has been eliminated as runners will descend into Five Points around mile eight. Miles 9, 10 and 11 take place in Shandon before runners head through campus to the finish line near the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. 

The 8K race has been replaced with a 5K run. In addition, the new Main Street Mile will take place on May 13, the Friday night prior to the half-marathon and 5K. A 5K walk and kids' fun run are also planned.


Tourism officials say the goal of the changes is to make the running race a central feature in a weekend of downtown activities to draw visitors to attractions such as Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, EdVenture Children's Museum, the South Carolina State Museum and the Columbia Museum of Art.

"Our leadership team believes that the Governor's Cup can be an event that brings thousands of visitors to Greater Columbia to enjoy a state-of-the-art running event, as well as the many beautiful attractions and unparalleled hospitality offered by our community," said Russ Pate, president of the Carolina Marathon Association and director of the Governor's Cup. "The Governor's Cup has a proud tradition dating to 1973. We look forward to building on that tradition in a way that benefits our entire community."

Lexington Medical Center, the title sponsor for the Governor's Cup, has extended its relationship through 2018 and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina is serving as sponsor for the 2016 race. 

"We have always enjoyed not only partnering with the Sports Council, but we appreciate all they do for our community as a whole," said Rick Noble, co-director of the Governor's Cup. "We want to align the Governor's Cup with the Sports Council's goal of making Columbia a sports and tourism destination."

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