Winners of the Governor’s Cup this fall won’t be handed the standard, commemorative coffee mug once they cross the finish line.
Instead, they’ll be getting an original work of art by ceramic artist Virginia Scotchie.
Event organizers commissioned the unique trophies to add more prestige to the half-marathon, a mainstay on the calendars of competitive runners since 1973 and now the premiere race in the Midlands. It will be held Nov. 9.
Last week, Scotchie began making 200 trophies out of clay dug from a pit in Bethune, a raw and symbolic product.
“We really wanted to work with a clay that was from South Carolina,” said Scotchie, an art professor and head of the University of South Carolina ceramic studio area.
The design is evocative of the state capitol, with a winner’s ribbon and medal draped below the dome. One detail — the color of the glaze — is still under discussion. The artist is leaning toward bronze or indigo blue.
“People are going to be talking about this,” said Rick Noble, vice-chairman of the board of the Carolina Marathon Association, the sponsoring organization.
“Frankly, most awards at races are pretty mundane.”
The finished trophies will not be uniform, of course, since they’re handmade.
This is the first time the Governor’s Cup has commissioned handmade trophies.
They were the brainchild of Sarah Blackwell, a runner and member of the Governor’s Cup Committee who took a class at Redbird Studio over the summer. She got to looking at some of the work on display in the gallery and approached Scotchie and her partner at Redbird, Bri Kinard, about designing a trophy.
“I wanted to have something people actually wanted to display on their mantle,” Blackwell said.
The original trophies will go to first-, second- and third-place finishers in the various age groups participating in the half-marathon or the 8K. An 8K is basically five miles, a step up from the more traditional 5K for people who’ve been working on their endurance.