California International Marathon Tips

Summary: The California International Marathon (CIM) is an annual marathon hosted in Sacramento, California every December. It’s known for its fast times, but don’t be fooled – you have to manage the first 20 miles well enough to have enough gas left in the tank to enjoy the flattest miles of the course, the last 10k.

What type of course is CIM?

Point to point, rolling hills, net downhill, minimal turns on the course

Start/Finish Info: Specific shuttle pickup and dropoff points, as well as car drop off points. Be sure to have the plan in place ahead of time, and be ready to walk/run up to a mile from the drop off point to the start. Finish line is downtown Sacramento, in front of the Capitol building, and fairly easy to navigate through to find family/friends afterwards.

What is the CIM elevation gain?

Small rolling hills the whole way, amounting to ~250 ft of gain total. 30ft gain at mile 10.5 and 40 feet at mile 11. If you push the pace too early in the race, the small rollers in the first half will really add up and it will feel like a much hillier course than expected.

Map/Elevation

What are the aid stations like?

Locations of water stations/electrolytes: 17 aid stations, including water and nuun at each, beginning at mile 3.3 and every 2-3 miles.

Electrolyte offered in the past: Clif Shots, Clif Bar Minis and Fruit at miles 6.4, 12, 19.4, 23.5

Where can spectators watch me run?

Access Locations: Plenty of places to see runners, and the linked guide has a map and directions to them, including mile 6, 10, 12.5, 13.5, 15, 20.5, 23.6, 24.2, and the last half mile to the finish. Remember you can’t cross the course, and parking is usually residential.

California International Marathon Tips from Team RunRunners

Here is a round-up of tips from our runners on the CIM marathon:

  • Likely to be chilly at the start, especially with how early of a start it is, so have a plan for shedding layers with the gear check option
  • Weather is likely to be misty, cloudy, cool, and maybe rainy
  • Be ready for a beginning slow mile, even though it’s downhill, as there are so many people at the start
  • Not a ton of crowd support like in bigger marathons
  • In 2017, aid was only on one side of the road, so look ahead and be aware of what side it’s on when approaching it so you don’t miss it
  • The course starts with a couple sharp turns and ends with two 90 degree turns, the last being being right before the finish chute, which can feel like a tight turn that late in the race
  • The course is a rolling downhill, so don’t expect all downhill or completely flat
  • The bigger hills are in the first half of the race and they’re noticeable – they’re the kind of hill that you see ahead of time and think “that’s a good looking hill!” Be ready for these rollers. While it’s a net downhill and fast course, it’s not pancake flat
  • Try to not hammer the downhills in the first half, and the downhills in the second half are more gradual
  • Last “hill” of the course is a bridge around mile 22
  • This race is deep with talented runners. It’s not a big city marathon feel, but there are lots of people here going for fast times, and it feels surprisingly crowded throughout the entire race, even though it’s not a huge field.
  • Men and Women finish chutes are separate, and (in previous years) the women’s finish chute is the turn before the men’s

Is CIM a Boston qualifier?

Yes, and Olympic Marathon Qualifier

Team RunRun CIM Race Reports

Check out all individual runner reviews in our California International Marathon race reports:

CIM Race Report – Brandon Tower

Race: California International Marathon Runner: Brandon Tower Race Date: 12/05/2021 Location: Sacramento, CA Results: 2:50:23 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? Positive energy from the field and spectators Fast course Well organized Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you Slightly early start time Weird factor – ...
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CIM Marathon Race Report – Noel Bautista

Race: California International Marathon (CIM) Runner: Noel Bautista Race Date: 12/05/2021 Location: Folsom - Sacramento Results: https://www.athlinks.com/event/3241/results/Event/996699/Course/2160653/Bib/7424 Strava Activity Link: https://strava.app.link/FFvsJMbTMlb 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The rolling hills Weather held up really well More than enough aid/fuel stations Most important CIM course specific knowledge to know about the race In case ...
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cim marathon race report

California International Marathon Race Report – Keith Laverty

Running coach Keith Laverty is here with his California International Marathon review to share what you need to know before running the race, including his tips for hill training. Race: California International Marathon Runner: Keith Laverty Race Date: 12/08/2019 Location: Folsom to Sacramento Results: 99th place, 2:24:29 (10+ minute PR) Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2920321658 3 Bests – What aspects of ...
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CIM Marathon Race Report – Phil C

Runner Phil C reviews the CIM Marathon (2019) in this race report, including what you should know about the hills before you run it. Race: California International Marathon Runner: Phil C Race Date: 12/08/2019 Location: Sacramento, CA Results: 3:40:00 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2920475800/overview 3 Bests – What aspects of the CIM Marathon did you like the most? Convenient shuttle bus ...
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cim marathon race report

CIM Marathon Race Report – Matt K

Runner Matt K breaks down his experience at the California International Marathon in this race report. It includes what you should know about the start line and why he recommends a different strategy at mile 19. California International Marathon Race Report Race: California International Marathon (CIM) 2017 Runner: Matt K Date: 12/03/2017 Location: Sacramento, CA Results: 3:03:44 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1301836407 3 ...
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cim marathon race report

CIM Marathon Race Report – Julie Urbanski

Julie Urbanski shares her experience on the CIM Marathon course, plus more tips on making the most of this race. Race: CIM Marathon Runner: Julie Urbanski Date: 12/03/2017 Location: Sacramento, CA Results: 3:30:44 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1302041615 3 Bests – What aspects of the CIM Marathon did you like the most? Super well organized. It seems like a race that's put on ...
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Strava links

https://www.strava.com/running-races/2017-california-international-marathon

https://www.strava.com/activities/445602833

Are you currently training for CIM? Hiring a running coach could help you run your best and achieve your goals! Find an experienced marathon running coach today.