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:

cim marathon phil c

3 Bests – What aspects of the CIM Marathon did you like the most?

Convenient shuttle bus from Sacramento (finish) to Folsom (start) on race morning.

Well stocked aid stations.

More porta potties than I’ve ever seen at a marathon.

Not so much – What aspects of the CIM didn’t do it for you?

Due to construction at the host hotel, the expo was relocated to an arena about 7 miles from downtown. The race organizers provided shuttles but it was still not super convenient. I think the expo will be back to the regular location in 2020.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about the CIM Marathon?

Nothing particular but our shuttle bus did drive under the Johnny Cash bridge on the way to the start.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I really enjoyed all the training leading up to the race. Race day was just the icing on the cake! My goal was 3:45 and I ended up at 3:40 so that is definitely a highlight!

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the CIM Marathon to help the next runner

The race is a point to point from Folsom to Sacramento. If you stay in Folsom, you cannot get near the start line due to security. You have to take a shuttle bus from one of several points in Folsom. Once the shuttle arrives, you have to leave the bus. On the other hand, if you are staying in Sacramento you can ride a bus to Folsom and stay onboard until 15 minutes before race start. It was nice to have a warm, dry spot to rest and relax before the race.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Like normal, I put out all my clothes and gear the night before the race. I also wrote myself a super detailed script of everything I needed to do on race morning. I had my best pre-race night of sleep ever. I’ll do the detailed script for every race in the future.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the CIM Marathon?

CIM bills itself as a net downhill course and the fastest course on the West Coast. The net downhill is true but if you look at Strava results from prior races, there is over 700 feet of climbing during the race. Fortunately, I learned this from Julie Urbanski’s race report and incorporated adequate hill training prior to the race.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I have no idea. I ran with complete tunnel vision.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Be prepared for the rolling hills.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

I had no issues with the organization. I didn’t use the bag drop but I heard lots of complaints about long delays getting bags returned at the finish.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

More than 100 runners had times below the Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard. This is a popular race for people trying to qualify for Boston. The race has good competitive energy regardless of your pace.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Nothing difficult about registration but hotels near the finish line in Sacramento book up fast.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Every two miles. This year they had water and NUUN Endurance. There were Clif Bars and Shots every five miles.

Weather and typical race conditions

Typically this race has start temperatures in the low 40’s with finish temperatures in the mid 50’s. This year there was a big threat of rain leading up to the race. A big storm front rolled through the night before the rain. It was wet at the start but I only encountered a very slight shower around mile 11.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Nothing special needed.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There weren’t many spectators the first half of the race but I started seeing many more the closer we got to Sacramento. Friends would most likely have to pick a single spot to see their runner. Due to the point to point nature and route, it would be a challenge to connect more than once.

How’s the Swag?

Nice long sleeved technical shirt, water bottle, mini Clif bars and NUUN samples.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

I’d give it five stars and would recommend it.

Planning for the California International Marathon? Get more info and race reviews from our CIM intel page!