Governor’s Cup half marathoners run into hills, leis and rock music

Half-marathon runners contended with humid weather and a hilly course Saturday morning at the 45th Governor’s Cup.

Geoffrey Ngetich, a Kenyan runner from Chapel Hill, crossed the finish line first in a time of 1:08:10. His pace was 5:13 per mile.

“I’m feeling great,” he said after striding to the finish.

Zipporah Chebet, also Kenyan and from Chapel Hill, bested the women’s field with a time of 1:22:26. Chebet also won the women’s race in 2014 and 2016. Though she led the race easily, finishing more than a minute ahead of the second women’s finisher, Chebet said the course was “hilly and hard.”

After taking off on Main Street heading toward the State House, the field quickly spread out within the first few miles. At mile four, runners were greeted by the sound of Bruno Mars blasting from a police car as they turned onto State Street in West Columbia.

At mile seven on Axtell Road, the Women’s Club of Cayce stood at the ready in grass skirts and flower leis at a Hawaiian-themed spirit station.

“Get lei’d by Women’s Club of Cayce,” their sign read.

“We’re having a wonderful time cheering them on,” women’s club member Ruth Davenport said.

“It does put a smile on their faces,” added member Kay Hutchinson.

A fire truck misted runners with water before they crossed the Blossom Street bridge, and Girls Rock Columbia entertained them with drums and electric guitars on the steps of the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.

At the finish line on Park Street in the Vista, 5K runners streamed in on one side of the road of as half-marathoners trickled in on another.

The 5K runners seemed to be enjoying themselves more – one man dressed as a gingerbread man skipped across the line. The halfers, having run 13.1 miles instead of 3.1, were visibly more exhausted.

Combining the finish lines this year made the end of the race livelier, race coordinator Rick Noble said.

“The race has gone off very well,” he said approvingly amid the post-race grab for water and bananas. “We made a giant leap forward this year.”

Men’s top half marathon finishers

1. Geoffrey Ngetich, Chapel Hill, 1:08:10

2. Cyrus Korir, Chapel Hill, 1:08:29

3. Matt Galvin, Marietta, Ga., 1:12:13

Women’s top half marathon finishers

1. Zipporah Chebet, Chapel Hill, 1:22:26

2. Lacey Krout, Atlanta 1:23:21

3. Shawanna White, Columbia, 1:24:50.

First South Carolinian finisher

Eric Ashton, Columbia, 1:22:39

Youngest finisher

Daniel Gillespie, 14, Columbia, 1:55:24

Wesley Gilliam, 14, Irmo, 1:58:06

Oldest finisher

Henry Holt, 81, West Columbia, 2:19:56

View all race results at strictlyrunning.com.

Related: Four runners with inspiring stories take on the Governor’s Cup


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