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 38 years, providing over 100,000 runners of all speeds–from first-timers to …
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 38 years, providing over 100,000 runners of all speeds–from first-timers to the fastest of the fast–the best chance to achieve their marathon goals. The same route SRA management created for the 1983 inaugural CIM will take you through rural countryside, then through the towns of Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks and Carmichael and finally, under a canopy of trees in full fall colors, into the city of Sacramento for the State Capitol finish. Even though the course has remained the same, the race has grown into a true international event.
The CIM is certified and sanctioned by USATF and is a Boston Marathon and US Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier.
CIM has steadily grown in numbers from a field of 1,600 runners in 1983 to a race that now fills to a capacity of more than 9,000 marathoners. Over the years, the SRA has added a four-person relay (over 1,000 teams now compete) and a 2.62-mile maraFUNrun held in the spirit of fitness and fun for 2,000 participants. Both of these events are a component of SRA’s mission to expose people of all ages to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle through running.
And join us for the Capitol 5K, a 23.1-mile shortcut to the CIM Finish Line held the day before CIM on Saturday!
Flat, fast course; long lines for bus
There was a long wait to get on the bus at the Capitol. I was there before 5 am but I was not on a bus until 45 minutes later. … MORE
There was a long wait to get on the bus at the Capitol. I was there before 5 am but I was not on a bus until 45 minutes later. The bus got to the starting location at 6:30 am (30 minutes before the start). Fortunately, there were plenty of toilets, so the wait was short and I was able to get to the starting line a few minutes before the race started. The course was fast with very few turns…a couple of hills in the first half, but the course was mostly flat or downhill. The aid stations were every 2 miles and were well organized. Beer and burritos were served at the finish.
Great Production but Not Best if >6hr
I wanted to visit Northern California this year and had decided on CIM since it was held on my birthday this year. I signed up early last winter at the … MORE
I wanted to visit Northern California this year and had decided on CIM since it was held on my birthday this year. I signed up early last winter at the end of January after recovering from my stress fracture on my foot expecting to have about 10 months to train but then I ended up reinjuring it in May and had to take another 5 weeks off in June/July and I was not able to train as expected. This race has a 6 hour stated time limit. Normally I can run a marathon under 6 hours but knew that this year I probably couldn’t. However I looked at past results and saw there were plenty of finishing times over 6 hours so I decided to risk it. The good news is even though I did finish over 6 hours they kept the finish line open and I got an official time but it definitely affected my experience the last few miles as they shut some things down. Overall this is a great race and one of (if not the best) produced race I have run but I would only strongly recommend it if you can finish under 6 hours. For the race I flew into Seattle the week before and drove down. I also visited Portland and San Francisco on my trip. The race limits itself to about 10,000 participants which is perfect but it does sell out by early fall so if you really want to do it don’t wait until the last minute to register. For the race either the host hotels were sold out or really expensive so I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. It was about 3/4 mile from the finish line. The expo is Friday and Saturday. I drove in Saturday and found parking in a garage that was only about $5. Expo was a little smaller than I was expecting but was pretty efficient for the number of runners and also had lots of running stuff to buy but not much free samples. Bib pick-up had a short line but it moved fast. The shirt is tech and I really like the design but it is white which isn’t my favorite color. I also bought some Gu gummies with electrolytes in case the race ran out since I knew I may be past the cutoff time. Since the course is point to point there are multiple options to get to the start. I just took the shuttle from the finish line. I walked there from my hotel. Since the race utilizes the main road from Folsom where it starts to Sacramento you drive up side streets and it took about an hour. They tell you to take the shuttle at 5am. I left a little earlier around 4:45 which I thought would mean I would have to wait a lot but it ended up timing perfectly. They brag about their porta potty to runner ratio and while there were lines they were must shorter than most races this size. The start corral has runners line up by pace and it moves pretty fast. It starts at 7 and I was near the end and started by around 7:15. I was worried the race would be crowded by it is all on very wide streets that are completely closed so there is a ton of space. I was happy they had 6 hour pacers since I knew that was the fastest minimum I could do and I decided to stick with the 6 hour pacers for as long as I could. Weather for the day predicted rain but it was perfect weather for most of the race until around noon so all the fast runners avoided it. The scenery is probably the weakest part of the course. I wouldn’t say it is terrible scenery but it’s mostly just suburbs outside Sacramento. There are pockets of spectators but also some longer stretches without spectators while in the suburbs. Aid stations were plentiful about every 1 to 2 miles and as efficient as possible for a race this size. They all had water and Nuun and every 6 miles had Gu gels in multiple flavors. There were also plenty of porta potties with little to no lines. The course is net downhill and is relatively fast but it is rolling hills and there are also a lot of uphills. The hills get a bit annoying but for every uphill there is a longer downhill. It is definitely a course you could PR or BQ on but if that is your primary goal you definitely need to hill train. If you are just running it for fun or as a 50 stater and not too worried about a specific time the hills are not difficult enough to need to do specific training for. I was happy I was able to keep up with the 6 hour pacers until about mile 18 and was really enjoying the race up until then. I hit a wall at mile 18 and slowed my pace but was still able to run-walk a bit and not slow down too much. Then I started to really have trouble at mile 20 and then it started raining and I got a large blister and had to walk most of the final 6 miles. At an aid station around mile 20 or 21 the “sweeper” team passed me. I asked them what this meant and they were very nice reassured me I could finish the race and would get a finishing time but there may not be course support and I may be moved to the side walk and said I should fill my water bottle. I made sure I filled my water bottle to the top at the aid stations. As soon as the sweepers passed a truck came and started packing up the aid station and also packed up the upcoming mile markers. Prior to the sweeper team every aid station I passed was completely well stocked even though I was running close to the sweepers so there would be absolutely no issues with support if you can make 6 hours. After the sweepers passed all the aid stations were gone or packing up and all the mile markers were gone as well. However they did leave the road closed and I was never forced to go to the sidewalk and they did keep the mile 26 marker up. One thing I really appreciated is even though some of the course support was removed even after I was passed by the “sweepers” there were still a lot of spectators cheering us on in the rain as we slowpokes trudged and mostly walked along. I am so thankful for those spectators and not sure I could have completed the race without them. As I said they did keep the finish line open and even though I was passed the time limit I got an official time and a medal. I love the medal. It is not a big, gawdy medal but has a bear and is inspired by the California state flag and is a great California medal. The finish area seemed pretty empty and packed up which was disappointing but I knew this would likely happen and I can’t fault the race since they did have a 6 hour limit and I’m glad they let me finish. I also didn’t have much time after since I was going to a Sacramento Kings Game at 3pm. My initial plan was to walk back (the Kings arena is next to the Holiday Inn) but I was in too much pain so took an uber. Of note it took forever to get an uber due to road closures. I am not complaining as I was very happy they kept the roads close for the longer finishers but if you do have plans in downtown Sacramento or need to catch a flight right after the race you should plan for some delays due to road closures. Overall this was one of the best produced races I have done and could be a fast course with the right training. I would highly recommend it if you know you can finish under 6 hours. If you regularly run marathons over 6 hours there are more turtle friendly ones in CA that I would recommend over this (LA, Long Beach and OC). However even with the last few miles of the race being less supported I still had a good time and enjoyed the race so if you do really want to do the race (or if you are in my position and signed up but couldn’t train as well due to injury) and you think there is a chance you may be over 6 hours you should still sign up for it just make sure you bring a water bottle and some extra nutrition and understand there may not be course support the last few miles.
Great race, but lots of hills!
Although this course is technically "net downhill," the net is only about 300 feet -- my Strava recorded that I ascended about 1900 feet, so it's not as easy as … MORE
Although this course is technically “net downhill,” the net is only about 300 feet — my Strava recorded that I ascended about 1900 feet, so it’s not as easy as I thought it’d be. I even trained on hills in San Francisco and thought this was a pretty difficult course, especially compared to flat races like Berlin or Chicago. Kind of surprised how many people end up getting personal bests here!
But it’s an extremely organized race (lots of aid stations and porta potties) and I loved running on the wide open roads! Probably the most well planned race outside of my two favorites of NYC and Chicago.
This race draws some of the best US Marathon racers as it was the USATF Marathon championship. So fun to be able to talk to US's elite marathon racers before … MORE
This race draws some of the best US Marathon racers as it was the USATF Marathon championship. So fun to be able to talk to US’s elite marathon racers before and after the race. The course has rolling hills for the first 20 miles and is essentially flat for the last 10K. Ends right in front of the California State Capitol Building (very cool). This race was such a great event I singed up for 2023 right away. Can’t wait to do it again next year!
Great fast race in Sacramento
This race was an excellent one if you'd like to break a personal record in the marathon. You can tell it is organized by runners, for runners. Everything from the … MORE
This race was an excellent one if you’d like to break a personal record in the marathon. You can tell it is organized by runners, for runners. Everything from the website to the bus shuttles to the course mile markers are geared to helping you run your best. The scenery is not the best, as you just go through suburban Sacramento, but it is a fast downhill course with sufficient aid stations, lots of quality runners, and a fun finish at the Capitol. I think it’s the best race on the West Coast for a fall marathon, especially if you want to run a fast time, and I plan to run it multiple times. My only caveat is to be careful to not go too fast in the first half. Although it’s downhill, the rolling hills in the first half can beat up your legs if you go out too fast so be conservative in the first half of the race to take advantage of the flat last 6 miles.
Welcome back CIM
This race is amazing! This was my second time running the marathon. We’ll organized, great crowd support and the net downhill with the hills sprinkled in is PR friendly. MORE
This race is amazing! This was my second time running the marathon. We’ll organized, great crowd support and the net downhill with the hills sprinkled in is PR friendly.
Great support, race logistics need work
This was my first marathon, and I overall had a great experience. Sacramento really showed up in terms of crowd support and that made a big difference to my morale … MORE
This was my first marathon, and I overall had a great experience. Sacramento really showed up in terms of crowd support and that made a big difference to my morale and ability to perform. The race starts in more rural and suburban neighborhoods; given this I had expected less spectators until the downtown area in the last 10k, but I was thrilled to pass so many families with dogs, fun signs, speakers blasting feel good tunes, and offerings of water bottles and candy. The people offering tissues were also a lifesaver, and throughout the course there were several live music ensembles.
It is not the most scenic route, but I loved the number of trees and the weather was ideal (starting in mid-upper 40s, ending in mid-50s), with fog in the morning, and cloudy skies throughout. There are gently rolling hills for much of the race, the last one being up and over a bridge in mile 21. I made a deliberate effort to incorporate hills into my training, and in the race I found that the uphills were generally not at all steep, and the speed and recovery I regained on the long downhill portions more than made up for the ups. Then I was able to push my speed most in the final 10K, which was generally flat (aside from that bridge).
My main complaint and reason for docking a star has to do with some organizational logistics. I stayed at a race partner hotel (DoubleTree Hilton in Point West) and signed up online in October to take a bus from that location “B”. Buses were scheduled to leave the hotel at 5am on race day. I arrived at the lobby at 4:50am to find the two buses out front were already full, with easily another 100 runners still in the lobby. The bus drivers and volunteers were uncertain if more buses would be coming. Around 5:20am another bus came, and I made it on that one, but I’m not sure how long the final group of runners at the hotel had to wait. No one was checking to see who had actually signed up to take these buses. I read past CIM reviews mentioning issues with buses, so it’s disappointing to see this seems to be a recurring issue each year. I will say the return bus ride to the hotel after the race went smoothly.
After I finished the race, I was disappointed to find they had run out of bananas and other pre-packaged snacks. I am not a particularly fast runner and this was my first marathon (goal time was <5:00, I actually outperformed my expectations by a lot with a 4:39:04 finish) but I still think a race with a 6 hour time limit should not be running out of these things with over an hour left still. There were hot burritos available past the immediate finish line area, but my stomach was not ready for something so heavy.
Other than those two grievances though, this was a fantastic race! The crowd support was wonderful, I love the shirt and medal, and I would run CIM again.
Perfect amount of aid stations, but of a fight to hit the aid as there is lots of people on the course - don’t go out to hard even though … MORE
Perfect amount of aid stations, but of a fight to hit the aid as there is lots of people on the course – don’t go out to hard even though it feels amazing, the rolling hills in the first half will eat your legs alive…course weather is near perfect, not too hot but not cold at all, small most on race day that was quite refreshing…really had a great time. Finish line and post race nutrition is perfect.
(i copied most of this review from last year's review .) The weather forecasts said it was going to rain, with a possibility of lightning. Fortunately it did not do … MORE
(i copied most of this review from last year’s review .) The weather forecasts said it was going to rain, with a possibility of lightning. Fortunately it did not do so, and the temperature at the start ended up being much better than last year (about 54 degrees vs 36 degrees.)
The course starts downhill, and then there are multiple rolling hills, none of which are too bad in itself, but the sheer number of them was annoying. (Note: I live in a very flat city, so I don’t get a chance to do any hill training.) The course is fairly flat after about mile 19 or 20.
There were tons of aid stations, and they did not run out of water even of back-of-the-pack people like me.
Beautiful scenery and perfect weather
beautiful weather and great organization, it is a good way to PR or BQ. Even though there are some hills, they are not very big or steep, The support from … MORE
beautiful weather and great organization, it is a good way to PR or BQ. Even though there are some hills, they are not very big or steep, The support from volunteers and citizens is awesome and uplifts your energy to keep going.
A Solid Race but Underwhelmed
- CIM was well-organized and provided excellent pre-race communication and tutorial videos from race directors and pace team leaders. This organization strives to ensure each runner is prepared and can … MORE
– CIM was well-organized and provided excellent pre-race communication and tutorial videos from race directors and pace team leaders. This organization strives to ensure each runner is prepared and can have a great race.
– Race morning transportation/logistics were smooth and while the portalet-to-runner ratio is the best in the nation, still get in line early. The start line was a well-oiled machine, with runners self-seeded and pacers easy to find. Some signage was a bit vague, though, and I ended up hopping a gate to the correct corral.
– The course is mostly rolling hills until the last few miles. This is the underwhelmed part of my review…it was pretty much a divided four-lane road through suburban Sacramento until the last handful of miles. It got a bit boring at times, but the predictability of the course helps sustain rhythm and pace.
– Crowds were intermittent and somewhat thin, but frequent enough that you kept the motivation going. Lots of cowbells and some very funny and creative signs. This is also where I was underwhelmed, particularly since this feature of the course (ie., crowds) had been raved about by prior CIM runners and I didn’t feel like it lived up to the hype. I’ve run races with more ambitious crowds, I guess. All in all, though, Sacramento does come out for this race and you feel like the whole City is rooting for you!
– Aid stations were frequent but only on the right side after mile 4ish. This created some bottlenecking and logistically was difficult given the number of runners.
– The race field was a good size for going for a PR and had a substantial amount of pacers, many of them BQ-oriented.
– The post-race area lacked places to sit but had good amount of nutrition and fluids, including an environmentally-friendly reusable water bottle. The shuttles back to the CIM partner hotels were easy to find but waited quite awhile before leaving and then our driver appeared to get lost enroute.
This is a solid race in many aspects and I had a good run, finishing with a PR. While I don’t plan to run CIM again, I think everyone should consider it, as there are many repeat CIM racers and it just might be your new favorite–I just didn’t have that experience.
Well organized race. Great course. Almost always great weather for a marathon. Since this course runs through a lot of neighborhoods, there are always so many people cheering the runners! … MORE
Well organized race. Great course. Almost always great weather for a marathon. Since this course runs through a lot of neighborhoods, there are always so many people cheering the runners! Great bands along the way playing awesome loud music.
A Mini-Boston Marathon
I loved everything about this race! It reminded me of a small-scale, more intimate version of the Boston Marathon. The expo was easy in and out, the bussing from downtown … MORE
I loved everything about this race! It reminded me of a small-scale, more intimate version of the Boston Marathon. The expo was easy in and out, the bussing from downtown to the start was a breeze, and there were plenty of portapotties. The course was also a dream: point-to-point and scenic, with very few turns and gentle, rolling hills. Lots of spectators throughout and great swag! Nice tech tee, medal, finish line jacket, reusable water bottle, and hot soup, plus fun photo opps. The 5K and kids’ run the day before made it a great family weekend, and I loved that there were so many serious runners looking for PRs, BQs, & OTQs. Majorly inspiring!
great race for my first marathon
There were plenty of aid stations and bathrooms. I had brought more race fuel than I actually needed. Hydropack failed me but the aid stations were enough to get me … MORE
There were plenty of aid stations and bathrooms. I had brought more race fuel than I actually needed. Hydropack failed me but the aid stations were enough to get me through the race. Get to the bathrooms early pre race before they run out of toilet paper. Bag drop was easy to figure out. Wished they kept the festival area open a little longer for the 6-7 hour people. Did not get my beer
This race is special to me!
My 1st ever Marathon happened at CIM in 2016 and this course has special place in my heart. Overall it's a downhill course but has some rolling hills which can … MORE
My 1st ever Marathon happened at CIM in 2016 and this course has special place in my heart. Overall it’s a downhill course but has some rolling hills which can surprise some runners who miss studying the course in detail. If one trains well with some hill training then it can definitely help in PR and a lot of runners BQ on this course. I just PR’d on this course by 20 mins and it brought a big smile on my face! 🙂 Overall it’s a fast course, efficiently organized by the race organizers covering everything from the Expo, shuttle bus service, start line, aid station support and also finish line support. Maybe, the only thing I can think of for them to improve is that they can increase some more porta potties.
Great first time marathon experience
From what I have heard and may agree with, this was an excellent event for a first-time marathoner. Overall CIM was very well organized, from the start, through well-stocked aid … MORE
From what I have heard and may agree with, this was an excellent event for a first-time marathoner. Overall CIM was very well organized, from the start, through well-stocked aid stations and amazing volunteers, and ending on a great note, getting a pretty cool medal and tents where first-timers could get an extra medal, people could get massages, fuel, etc. The only suggestion I would make is maybe having a few more places where people could shed their outer layers after 4-5 miles. There were a lot of clothes, water bottles, packs, gloves, etc. on the sides of the road along the way.
Always go back for more
I take for granted this great race right in my backyard! Always well organized, plenty of aid stations and porta potties at the start. Runner drop off bus to the … MORE
I take for granted this great race right in my backyard! Always well organized, plenty of aid stations and porta potties at the start. Runner drop off bus to the start was easy and great for the first year having it. Lots of energy along the course. Weather didn’t disappoint this year.
Great Race Tons of Cheering Spectators
The overall energy of this race was amazing! There was barely a second of silence during the race and lots of clever signs to read while running. I loved seeing … MORE
The overall energy of this race was amazing! There was barely a second of silence during the race and lots of clever signs to read while running. I loved seeing all of the fans cheering. Tons of aid stations the volunteers were amazing! Only a few improvements included gear check and buses to the start line. The gear checked bags got very mixed up and took a long time for people to find. The bus drivers were very friendly but it seemed like they didn’t really know the answers to runners questions. They took us to the start line at 5am and told us to get out but that was too early so we asked if we could stay on the bus. We ended up just riding the bus back and forth from our dropoff spot to the start line a few times to stay warm and rest. Otherwise it was an impressive coordination of so many athletes! The soup at the end was pretty good too! And I loved the jackets they gave out at the end rather than blankets so your hands were free! Great race already signed up for next year!!!
Good race with a few kinks
I would recommend the race, (disclosure: I just earned a personal best there) The good * Pace group leaders were awesome * Plenty of porta potties at the start (1 … MORE
I would recommend the race, (disclosure: I just earned a personal best there)
* Pace group leaders were awesome
* Plenty of porta potties at the start (1 for every 30 runners per announcer)
* Hot soup at the finish was delicious and welcome on a damp and mildly chilly day
* 3 start line buses took wrong turns twice, so it took longer to get to the start area. Strange for a race that claims to have not changed course 37 years
* Hydration stations were too way short – can the volunteers be spread out a bit more ? Also, I missed a few Nuun stations and not all aid stations had Nuun.
* I had trouble exiting the finish area and had to crawl through the fence to get to the street. None of the volunteers I asked knew – perhaps have a few volunteers who can provide this information ?
* I would classify this as a course with rolling hills. It may be a net downhill course on paper (and you feel the downhills in the first half of the course), but the downhill segments in the first half will not really help you in the last third or so of the race, which is mostly flat.
Fast, Smoothly Run, Perfect Race Size
If you want a marathon that's not big city big but not so small you're running alone, CIM is for you. Around 8000 runners move through a point to point … MORE
If you want a marathon that’s not big city big but not so small you’re running alone, CIM is for you. Around 8000 runners move through a point to point course with very few turns. The course rolls ever so gently until it flattens like a pancake in the last 10k. The pacers are phenomenal, at least for the 3 hour group. Both years I’ve run, they have come in around 15 seconds under the goal time. Everything about this race is run smoothly. All the volunteers are phenomenal. The aid stations on the course are all uniform, on the right side of the road, Nuun first, water second. The buses stay at the start area until the race begins, so if bad weather you can hang out inside. There are more port-a-potties at the start then any other event ever. I can say I will be back again for this race.