Overall Rating
Overall Rating (103 Reviews)
4.6
(103 Ratings)(103 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.7
SCENERY
3.5
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
3.7
The California International Marathon (CIM) is a marathon organized by runners, for runners! CIM was founded in 1983 by the Sacramento Running Association (SRA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our gently rolling, point-to-point, net downhill course has remained unchanged for 33 years, providing over 100,000 runners of all speeds–from first-timers to … MORE
Local Weather (Dec 03)
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
 
H (°F) 57 59 61 53 58
L (°F) 38 40 56 38 41
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Recent reviews

    Profile photo of Angela Knotts
    Angela REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Do people still run West Coast marathons other than CIM? If so, I'm sure I don't know why. (WAIT. Is it the lack of big-headed cartoon characters???? Well, if that's … MORE

    Do people still run West Coast marathons other than CIM? If so, I’m sure I don’t know why.

    (WAIT. Is it the lack of big-headed cartoon characters???? Well, if that’s your bag….)

    I kid, I kid.

    Mostly.

    ***DATE***
    Early December (Dec 4, 2016 this year)

    ***FIELD SIZE***
    6174 Finishers. The cap is 7,500 plus the guaranteed entries (see below) and CIM always sells out, so this number of finishers seems awfully low to me. I wonder if that is partly due to the new deferral option.

    ***PRICING/DEADLINES/SELLOUT***
    The pricing & deadline structure works a little differently than most other races I’ve run.
    – “Re-Run” Registration Special: $89. Available to finishers only, immediately after the race. Limited to 500 registrants.
    – “Re-Run” 2: $99. New for 2017, I think? Apparently the $89 “Re-Run” entries sold out super fast so they offered a second round at $10 more. Also limited to 500 registrants.
    – Early Registration: $125 (1,001st registrant through May 18)
    – Standard Registration: $139 (May 19 through July 13)
    – Late Registration: $150 (July 14 to race sell-out)
    – Guaranteed Entries: $175 (October 1 to October 16). Basically, if you’ve met the guaranteed entry standard in the last year (10 minutes slower than BQ times), you have this window to sign up even if the race is officially sold out.
    – 200 Charity entries available $275 (Until sold out)

    ***EXPO***
    At ~7000 runners, CIM is a reasonably big race (though obviously nothing like NYCM or Chicago), and the expo is fairly sprawling as well. It usually runs for two or three days, I think, usually closing at 5pm the day before the race. It’s held at the Sacramento Convention Center & involves many of the usual suspects–running shoe/clothing purveyors, fueling companies, booths for a variety of California races, car raffles, etc. Picking up my bib & shirt has always been super easy & straightforward, as has finding last-minute accouterments (like sunglasses).

    ***STAGING***
    Incidentally, quite close to the Johnny Cash Bridge, where Folsom Blues Breakout Half started. I totally did not realize at the time that when I hit .2 miles or so into FBB Half, I was running right across the CIM starting line! Basically the shuttle buses park on the bridge, & the start is staged on Folsom-Auburn Road–starting line to the south, potties to the north, & gear check right across the road.

    There have always been massive numbers of port-a-potties at this race, but for whatever reason this year those lines were LONG and SLOW. In the past I’ve stood in them for max 5 minutes, and this year it was over 20. So if I ever do the shuttle bus again, I will definitely get my butt out there before 6:30am.

    The finish is at the State Capitol Building, which makes for a pretty background what with the architecture & giant Christmas tree. They also do separate finish lines for men & women so that the female winner can break the tape, which I’ve always thought was nice.

    ***BAG CHECK***
    This was the first year I used the bag check, and it was quite easy to go up to the “bag yard,” have a volunteer take my bib number, & then go grab my bag for me. I assume there was food or something but I had absolutely zero interest whatsoever.

    ***LODGING***
    Given that it’s a point-to-point course, you have two options: 1) Stay in Folsom near the finish, sleep in a little later, but find yourself showerless at the finish, or 2) stay in Sac within walking distance of the finish (super easy as there are many many hotels nearby) & do a late checkout, but be sad because you’re catching a 5am bus (or your friend/loved one’s car) to the start. Super creative options include #3) get a buddy or a group together so you can justify a reservation at each end, or #4) be lucky enough to have friends or family who live at one end or the other.

    There are many perfectly fine hotels in Sac within walking distance of the finish line at the Capitol building, but this year we stayed at the Holiday Inn by the freeway, about 6 blocks from the finish, for $159 + $16 parking, which was nice but not super fancy or anything. It was also less than 2 blocks from one of the shuttle bus pickups, key since it was ~40F outside & I was not trying to walk a long way in the cold 2 hours before a marathon. There was a bit of road noise from the freeway that I was worried about but ended up not bothering me at all. Solid recommendation, though there are plenty of others. As always, I recommend making a hotel reservation as soon as you think you *MIGHT* want to run since they fill up fast & you can always cancel it.

    ***THE COURSE***
    The course is gently rolling for the first 20 miles, basically flat for the last 10K, with a net down hill of ~300′ or so. There are a grand total of like six turns. That combined with the location & time of year, at least in my book, means your chances of fast, favorable race conditions are significantly better than in the vast majority of places. (I mean yes there was that one year there was a monsoon, but it was only one year. And yes there was the year it was like 15F at the start, but let’s just remember that everyone & their grandmother ran, like, 20:00 PRs that year & not get too worried about it.)

    Now, let us talk about the hills. To be honest, I talk about the hills in this race differently depending on who I’m talking to. When I’m talking to people who train in relatively flat places I say, “There are near-constant, gentle rolling hills in the first 20 miles. None of them are long or super steep but you should know they are there and you should train for them, especially the downhills. Don’t go crazy on the uphills & prepare your quads for the descents so that you can enjoy that last flat 10K, less the freeway overpass at mile 21-22 (I forget exactly). Just be sure to do some hill training & you will be fine.”

    When I’m talking to people who train in places like San Francisco where significant hills, up and down, are more or less an unavoidable part of your daily training, I say, “There are no hills in this race. You will be completely fine.” Personally I like the variation in terrain because it lets me alternate muscle groups without totally wearing anything out too early, but I’m also used to it.

    Aid stations are maybe every 2-2.5 miles or so for the first 20 miles, then more frequent after that (so basically, the perfect distribution). Now, this brings me to my one complaint about this year’s CIM, which is the sports drink issue. In the past it’s always been something with actual calories in it, like Gatorade or Ultima or something. This year there was only [expletive] [expletive] Nuun.

    No. Just, no. You want to stay hydrated & have a few electrolytes during your yoga class? Fine. Bring a bottle of Nuun. If you’re running 26+ miles, you need something with some goddamn calories in it.

    Let’s finish on a positive note. I love the spectators at this race. Love love love. They’re not constant, but there are pretty solid corridors at several points throughout the race, and they are among *the* most earnest, sincere spectators I have encountered at any race and they are absolutely screaming and cowbelling their hearts out for you, whether they know you or not.

    ***SWAG***
    Long sleeve logo tech shirt & finisher medal, plus post-race snacks (I assume?). I know some other marathons give you like fancy backpacks or duffel bags or furry ponchos or whatever, but this is how they keep the costs down and the focus on running a fast, competitive race rather than tourism.

    ***IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN***
    – Reserve your hotel early. You can always cancel it.

    – Make your dinner reservations early. There are lots of good restaurants but they WILL fill up with large groups on Saturday night. (We quite enjoyed Hook & Ladder & it was about a mile from the expo.)

    – Train for the hills, if you’re not used to them.

    – Don’t wear too many clothes. Yes, it’s cold at the start (except when it’s cold & wet) but people are always shedding clothes like maniacs 4-5 miles in.

    ***OVERALL ASSESSMENT***
    Guys. You know my feelings on this. CIM is basically God’s gift to western marathons and if I had to run only one marathon for the rest of my life and forsake all others, it would hands down be this one, no question. Some people will tell you it is hilly and cold and boring and not as fast as everyone says but those people are lying liars. There are reasons people come from all over the country to run BQs and OTQs here. Ask the BAA. CIM is hands down the best marathon there is, the end.

    (Even if they did pour f—ing Nuun this year.)

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    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    PeteSinCA Oct 13, 2017 at 2:20pm

    Gee! Tell us how you really feel about Nuun! I don't know if I've ever had it. Don't get me started on orange-flavored Ultima Replenisher - blech! The raspberry-flavored is rather palatable, though.

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    Mike Sohaskey Oct 12, 2017 at 9:15pm

    Drop the mic! Gotta agree with pretty much everything you write, even if I do have a tough time calling CIM the granddaddy of all marathons. But it's clearly up there, since it's one of only 3 marathons I've run twice (Big Sur and LA being the others). And YES, it fills me with unbridled joy to find one of the few other runners on the planet who's not a Nuun ambassador and who thinks the stuff is overrated fizzy water. Appreciate the hands-down awesome review!

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    Profile photo of Leonardo Zamudio
    sublimewillratm REPEAT RUNNER '16

    The race is very well put on, and runs very smoothly. The expo and pre-/post-race is also well done, and the course sets up perfectly for a PR. The weather … MORE

    The race is very well put on, and runs very smoothly. The expo and pre-/post-race is also well done, and the course sets up perfectly for a PR. The weather was great again, and it was very well supported and cheered the whole way through.

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    Profile photo of Karen Smith
    karen6722 REPEAT RUNNER '15

    CIM is the best Marathon you can run. Each year the rain will taunt you. But usually it is clear and sunny with some sprinkles or none at all. The … MORE

    CIM is the best Marathon you can run. Each year the rain will taunt you. But usually it is clear and sunny with some sprinkles or none at all. The race irganizrd by runners. It is the easiest to pickup bib, best expo. A pace team that is dedicated and known to the race and community. Great support no reason not to run

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    Profile photo of Karen Smith
    karen6722 REPEAT RUNNER '13

    This was the best Marathon I have run. Truly beautiful. Lots of support. Some years like this one was freezing cold! But a personal best. The pace team fantastic. On … MORE

    This was the best Marathon I have run. Truly beautiful. Lots of support. Some years like this one was freezing cold! But a personal best. The pace team fantastic. On time. The course supplied organized and well thought out. Nothing is easier then getting your bib going to start and having a great race.

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    Profile photo of Karen Smith
    karen6722 REPEAT RUNNER '16

    The course is beautiful. Easy to run. Heavily supported. Well thought out. Always starts on time. Things run very smooth. They are professionals at making a race for runners from … MORE

    The course is beautiful. Easy to run. Heavily supported. Well thought out. Always starts on time. Things run very smooth. They are professionals at making a race for runners from a runners perspective. Everything is truly thought out. Best expo. Educational nutritious. Easy to natigate. Thank you CIM.

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    Profile photo of Stephen Myers
    s.j.myers FIRST-TIMER '16

    Well run race with LOTS of spectators. Wide start area few narrow places but over all nice run. The road way from mile 13.2 to about mile 17 was broken … MORE

    Well run race with LOTS of spectators. Wide start area few narrow places but over all nice run. The road way from mile 13.2 to about mile 17 was broken asphalt and had to watch step closely. from mile 20 (the wall) to finish was neat with LOTS of crowd support. Over all the course is down hill with the exception of the area in old fair oaks (miles 9-11) rolling hills till about 13. very few portables on the course and some were locked up. Great finish area but if you are planing on meeting anyone after the race make a plan before getting there as the “runners” area is not open to spectators. Trying to find someone in the crowds when you are tired is not a fun game. Overall well run lots of fun and a great race for your first ( and going to be my second next year.

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    Profile photo of Jim Kiniris
    jkiniris REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Come and check out Sacramento. You'd be surprised how much fun it is! It's my hometown marathon and I'm proud of how this group puts this on. LOTS of excitement … MORE

    Come and check out Sacramento. You’d be surprised how much fun it is! It’s my hometown marathon and I’m proud of how this group puts this on. LOTS of excitement around this marathon. LOTS of great spectating!

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    Profile photo of Keri Russell
    kruss23 REPEAT RUNNER '16

    The best part of this race is the spectator support. They are lined throughout the course and it is easy for friends and family to see you several times on … MORE

    The best part of this race is the spectator support. They are lined throughout the course and it is easy for friends and family to see you several times on the course. It is always well organized! Its by far my favorite marathon.

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    Profile photo of Cynci Calvin
    ccrun REPEAT RUNNER '16

    affordable entry, food, lodging, flight prices; lively well-stocked Expo with informative clinics; high odds for perfect weather; efficient busing to the start included in entry fee; point-to-point course with scenery … MORE

    affordable entry, food, lodging, flight prices; lively well-stocked Expo with informative clinics; high odds for perfect weather; efficient busing to the start included in entry fee; point-to-point course with scenery changing from rural to urban, trees in full fall color, good pavement, few turns, gently rolling; supportive spectators that increased in numbers as finish got closer; spot-on Pace Team Leaders; knowledgeable, capable volunteers; good schwag; race management folks know what they are doing!

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    Profile photo of Andrea Kane
    andreak REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This course is known as having a net downhill, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's pancake flat and easy. The rolling hills in the beginning will tire … MORE

    This course is known as having a net downhill, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s pancake flat and easy. The rolling hills in the beginning will tire you out if you’re not careful.

    It’s not the most scenic course, but the more than enough crowd support makes up for that. It’s 26.2 miles of cheering spectators encouraging you as you make your way to the finish. Lots of people are out there with their families, dogs and this year, I saw a few goats!

    There are preferred hotels that give a discount rate if you sign up early and make sure to do so. The hotels fill up fast. Finding one near the finish is a good idea because there are shuttles nearby and you won’t be too far after the race.

    The shirt and medal are both very nice and make sure to check out the expo; lots of free samples and possible race discounts if you register there!

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    vabowler REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This race keeps getting better every time I run it --Fun Urban City Route, Organizers are Awesome, Volunteers & Spectators are Incredible! Weather is usually perfect although a having a … MORE

    This race keeps getting better every time I run it –Fun Urban City Route, Organizers are Awesome, Volunteers & Spectators are Incredible! Weather is usually perfect although a having a year of record rainfall or very cold gives runners a rare challenge to the course –make the best of it and you’ll likely be bragging abount making your Personal Record! I truly “LOVE” this marathon & all the great people who either run it or support it so Enjoy!!!

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    Profile photo of Jen Lee
    Jen_L REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This was my second time running CIM. The first time I ran, it was the year of the monsoon (2012), so I thought with the great weather this year, plus … MORE

    This was my second time running CIM. The first time I ran, it was the year of the monsoon (2012), so I thought with the great weather this year, plus a solid training cycle, it would be big PR day. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about the small rollers! I don’t think this would be a problem for most people, but I’ve been running flat routes all year and the relentless rollers gave me cramps by mile 22. Despite my personally disappointing race performance, I still think CIM is a great race. The support on the course and race logistics can’t be beat. You can find more details about logistics on my blog.

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    Profile photo of Kira Heller
    KiraH FIRST-TIMER '16

    I loved this race! It was very well organized, from the bib pickup to the bag drop and well-stocked aid stations. Tons of spectators, much wild cheering. MORE

    I loved this race! It was very well organized, from the bib pickup to the bag drop and well-stocked aid stations. Tons of spectators, much wild cheering.

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    Mike Sohaskey Dec 13, 2016 at 7:32pm

    Thanks, Kira – and congrats to you on opening a huge can of whoop-ass on this course!

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    Profile photo of Andy Nichols
    an466807 FIRST-TIMER '16

    Just about everything made this a great first marathon. The course was great. Almost no turns and lots of downhill. Even the rolling hills were forgiving and mild. MORE

    Just about everything made this a great first marathon. The course was great. Almost no turns and lots of downhill. Even the rolling hills were forgiving and mild.

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    Profile photo of Susan Grinstead
    susangsac FIRST-TIMER '16

    Usually run trails and shorter distances, but wanted to try the local marathon that I'm usually cheering at. Almost got my goal time, but still pretty satisfied with how I … MORE

    Usually run trails and shorter distances, but wanted to try the local marathon that I’m usually cheering at. Almost got my goal time, but still pretty satisfied with how I did. Loved the organization, the volunteers, the folks out there cheering, the bands, the course – all quite different from what I’m used to. Hope to run it again and improve.

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    bill REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This was my third time running CIM. The first two I was well trained and both were personal records. I did not train as well for this race but entered … MORE

    This was my third time running CIM. The first two I was well trained and both were personal records. I did not train as well for this race but entered it because I knew I would have a good time regardless. It wasn’t my slowest marathon but I still had a great time. The race is well run and the spectators make are encouraging to help one keep going.

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    jphermens FIRST-TIMER '10

    This is the second marathon I ever ran, and it is more than a year later than the first marathon I ever ran. I focused a lot on the half … MORE

    This is the second marathon I ever ran, and it is more than a year later than the first marathon I ever ran. I focused a lot on the half marathon distance over the year, and am finally looking to get my marathon PR down. This race is one recommended to me by other members of my family, and it is pretty close to where I lived, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I really enjoyed the course, it was more fun, more inspiring (and 20 minutes faster) than my first race.

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    jphermens REPEAT RUNNER '11

    I set a personal worst at this year's marathon. I am OK with that since I didn't start training until one month before the race! In my first big marathon … MORE

    I set a personal worst at this year’s marathon. I am OK with that since I didn’t start training until one month before the race! In my first big marathon since I graduated college and found myself a real job, I have had a lot of extra work to do, and haven’t really had time or motivation to focus on running. Even with feeling the pain, I loved the CIM, and this year it started right outside my front door! This is an extremely well organized race, and I love the town and the course.

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    jphermens REPEAT RUNNER '12

    I rarely ever come in over 4 hours, but this year, it rained A LOT! Even without the rain, I knew this wasn't a PR year, so nothing lost. It … MORE

    I rarely ever come in over 4 hours, but this year, it rained A LOT! Even without the rain, I knew this wasn’t a PR year, so nothing lost. It seemed like after everyone accepted that we were going to get soaked, we all had great fun. With my slow time, it stopped raining on me with ~2 miles to go, so at the finish I dumped my water bottle on my head. This year’s race was different, but fun. The first marathon I ran in the rain, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

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    jphermens REPEAT RUNNER '14

    I did extremely well in this year's race, my 4th time running it. After having sat out 2013 due to sickness, I missed my favorite course of the season. This … MORE

    I did extremely well in this year’s race, my 4th time running it. After having sat out 2013 due to sickness, I missed my favorite course of the season. This race never fails to have excellent organization, awesome spectators and a fun environment. I will keep looking for that PR below 3:30, and will keep running CIM!

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