HELENA — Former Helena High and Carroll College cross country and track and field distance runner Layne Ryerson took home the gold at the Governor's Cup Marathon on Saturday with a time of 2:39:49.40. This was his fifth marathon, and his fastest time yet.
Being a few years removed from his collegiate career, winning wasn’t on the forefront of Ryerson’s mind.
“I definitely wanted to go out there and do my best and just run my own race and have my own experience and have fun and talk to people. And I knew I was in decent shape. So I'm like, oh, maybe I'll be competitive. But yeah, definitely winning was not something that I thought was gonna happen. It was a very pleasant surprise,” he said.
Ryerson mentioned two factors that he thinks helped him win the marathon. The first was the man on the lead bike.
“I had a good feeling that if I was following the bike, I was in first place. He was very encouraging. When we were going through the hills and up the last hill, he was letting me know that was the last one I had to take on. So I was very grateful to the gentleman on the bike,” he said.
The second, being the beautiful Montana countryside.
“The course was great. It was beautiful. It went through like the most pristine Montana countryside. And I think that I would attribute any sort of speed that I had to distracting myself with the scenery. So I think that was the best part,” Ryerson said.
He also had a wishful goal in mind, to beat his 17-year-old self.
“I had never run below 2:40:00 before. So for me, that was a big goal. To be honest with you, my biggest goal was to break 45, which was my personal record in the marathon that I set when I was 17. And then I ran a handful after and I'd never beat it. So I was really hoping that I would be 17-year-old Lane eventually. And it was nice to finally do that,” he said.
Not only did he run the entire 26.2 miles, but he went back to the course to run some more once he was finished to help inspire his girlfriend who was running her first-ever marathon.
“She did amazing. I am so proud of her. And I was finished and then I gave her a call and figured out where she was. And I was able to run the last four or five miles with her, which was a good experience, even though I just ended up carrying the water and Gatorade and gels and throwing in words of encouragement here and there. But I almost missed the award ceremony at the end, but made it just in time.”
Though the Governor's Cup is a Boston Marathon qualifier, Ryerson doesn’t think he’s going to take on the streets of Boston quite yet. His older brother, Garrett, also runs marathons and his younger brother, Clayton has been running half-marathons, and the experience is something he wants to share with family.
Winning the Governor's Cup is a huge accomplishment, but Ryerson noted that his biggest accomplishment was receiving the Champion of Character Award at Carroll College his junior/senior year.
“I think that meant the most to me, because it was just, you know, something that I felt was more valuable to me than any running accomplishments were,” he said.
Ryerson graduated from Carroll College with a degree in environmental science and a minor in anthropology. Throughout high school and college, he spent five summers with a wild-land firefighting crew, which pushed him to stay in shape and to attend law school at the University of Montana. Now, he combines all of his interests in Bozeman working for Wildfire Defense Systems.