HELENA -- Mark Messmer knew his goal.
The former University of Montana standout runner eyed his past coach’s record. On Saturday, running in the half marathon of the 45th Governor’s Cup, Messmer bettered the mark, winning the race in a time of 1:09:01.85.
The Missoulian’s time eclipsed former Montana coach Collin Fehr’s record of 1:10:08 set in 2015.
“I had that in the back of my mind the whole time,” Messmer, a 2015 graduate of Montana, said afterward. “I was trying to go off that. I knew it was a new course and wasn't really sure how it would play out. I was pretty excited about getting the record and feeling decent throughout the whole thing.”
With a new race course this year, Messmer said he was excited to test the new footing. New pathing, especially the hills, added a challenge for every runner during Saturday’s sunny run. Neither the heat nor course could slow the 2017 Governor’s Cup marathon champion on Saturday.
It was an added benefit to snag his coach’s record.
“I don’t see him as much anymore. I’ll be sure to let him know I got his record today,” Messmer said with a smile.
Messmer topped a podium that included Bozeman meteorologist Carson Vickroy, who placed second in a time of 1:11:02.06, and former Montana State runner Ethan Wilhelm, who grabbed third place in a time of 1:13:05.21.
Messmer’s record win on Saturday was part of his training for his hometown’s premier race, the Missoula Marathon. The race, which takes place in July, had been his training focus over the past few months. While he originally hoped to defend his Governor’s Cup marathon title from last year, Messmer felt the wear and tear from running two marathons about four weeks apart last season.
“It didn't feel like Missoula went as well as it should last year,” Messmer said. “It felt like a half would be a better fit in my training.”
Messmer anticipated another big stretch of mileage this upcoming week before tapering off for Missoula.
“It will feel nice,” he said. “It’s been a long training block. My legs are pretty tired. I’ll be ready for it when it finally comes.”
After Missoula, Messmer hopes to find a sea-level marathon to run in. He laughed that the 4,200-foot elevation in Helena and 3,200 in Missoula, mixed in with hills, provide a challenge of their own. He seeks to find a race with competition running around two hours and 20 minutes to push himself.
“Something fast and flat would be ideal.” he said.