2023 California International Marathon Elite Athlete Preview

At 7:00am pacific standard time on December 3rd, thousands of runners will begin the trek from Folsom to the Capitol Mall in the 40th annual California International Marathon (CIM).

At 5:00am, buses with members of the elite fields depart from downtown Sacramento, making their way to the start line, backtracking the course in darkness. The return journey will be covered on foot as the sun rises over the Sierra Nevadas. CIM has become a destination race for the United States’ upper crust of marathoners and those on the cusp of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Runners flock to Sacramento yearly in December because of favorable weather, CIM’s net downhill course, an ideal race setup, and because their peers come, and there is comfort and camaraderie in a pack with a unified mission. During the 2020 Olympic Trials qualifying window, more than twice as many runners qualified for the Olympic Trials at CIM than runners qualifying in New York, Chicago and Boston combined. It has become known as the people’s marathon, famous for the packs of runners flying down Fair Oaks Boulevard at 2:18 and 2:37 pace (the Olympic Trials qualifying marks).

This year’s men’s race includes 2021 champion and local legend, Brendan Gregg. Gregg ran at Davis Senior High School and then for the Stanford Cardinal. In the race two years ago, he took the lead from the outset and ran solo for much of the journey to claim the victory and the third fastest time ever run on the 40 year old course- 2:11:21.

“I’m thrilled to be one among the thousands ready to line up together and get after it. Up front, we’ve got a great mix of seasoned vets and up-and-comers leading the way, with more depth from top to bottom than just about any race in the country,” said Gregg. “The chance to be a part of an event like that in my backyard every year is impossible to pass up and I’m looking forward to sharing the streets of Sacramento with such a tremendous group of athletes pushing each other to new heights.”

Gregg will contend with a familiar challenger from the Central Valley. Fresno runner CJ Albertson brings his aggressive, front-running style back to Sacramento after placing 8th in 2021. Albertson has run 2:10:23 on the Boston Marathon course and ran 2:10:33 in Boston earlier this year. His highest place in Sacramento was a 2nd place finish in 2019.

Other contenders on the men’s side include Mckirdy Trained athlete Amanuel Mesel (2:08:17), Kenyan athlete Milton Rotich (2:08:55) and Noah Droddy of Boulder, CO (2:09:09). 2018 CIM champion Brogan Austin is in the field as well (2:12:38).

On the women’s side, Allie Kieffer enters the race with a personal best of 2:28:12, the fastest in the field. This will be her first time racing CIM and her first marathon since setting her best mark in New York in 2018.

“I’m really excited to be heading to CIM for the final crack at the OTQ!,” said Kieffer. “With a historically fast course and what’s looking like ideal conditions, it’ll be the best place to be on the final day to qualify for the Trials!”

Kieffer will contend with CIM alum and 2:29:59 runner, Samantha Roecker. Roecker burst onto the scene in 2018 placing 3rd at CIM in a time of 2:30:25, slicing nearly 8 minutes from her previous best.

Other top contenders in the field include Kenyan runner Grace Kahura-Maling (2:30:14), 2019 CIM second place finisher Obsie Birru (2:30:25) and Chico State alum Alia Gray (2:30:41).

For the hometown rooting interest, look for Kaitlin Gregg Goodman (2:32:08). Gregg Goodman is the sister of Brendan Gregg and a standout in her own right while at Davis Senior High School and UC Davis.

The favorites are touted for their established racing careers and deserve the acclaim, but CIM also has a reputation for launching careers of first-time marathoners. In her first go at the distance, Emma Bates won the race in 2018 in 2:28:18, and in 2021, famed 1500m runner Sara Vaughn ratcheted down the pace in the final miles to win in a then course record time of 2:26:53. The women’s record was eclipsed last year by Paige Stoner in 2:26:02 in her second ever go at the 26.2 mile distance. That will be the mark the women will have to eclipse to etch their name into the record book. The men’s record of 2:10:27 has been held by Jerry Lawson since 1993.

The men’s and women’s elite fields will compete for a combined $60,000 total prize purse and bonuses of $500 for each individual who runs under the USATF Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying marks of 2:18:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women.

Projected Elite Field:
Men Women
Amanuel Mesel Flagstaff, AZ 2:08:17 Allie Kieffer Austin, TX 2:28:12
Milton Rotich Albuquerque, NM 2:08:55 Samantha Roecker Arvada, CO 2:29:59
Noah Droddy Boulder, CO 2:09:09 Grace Kahura – Malang Longmont, CO 2:30:14
CJ Albertson Fresno, CA 2:10:23 Obsie Birru Phoenix, AZ 2:30:25
Brendan Gregg West Sacramento, CA 2:11:21 Alia Gray LAFAYETTE, CO 2:30:41
Shadrack Biwott Folsom, CA 2:12:01 Bethany Sachtleben Broomfield, CO 2:31:20
Brogan Austin Longmont, CO 2:12:38 Kaitlin Goodman Kirkland, WA 2:32:08
Nick Hauger Flagstaff, AZ 2:12:59 Stephanie Pezzullo Ocala, FL 2:32:42
JJ Santana Las Vegas, NV 2:14:15 Briana Boehmer Boulder, CO 2:33:00
Willie Milam Telluride, CO 2:14:54 Dawn Grunnagle Dallas, TX 2:33:14
Dylan Gearinger Dunmore, PA 2:14:55 Hiruni Wijayaratne Broomfield, CO 2:34:10
Alex Monroe Superior, CO 2:14:55 Allie Schaich Portland, OR 2:34:36
Mohamed Hrezi Philadelphia, PA 2:15:22 Maddie Van Beek Fargo, ND 2:35:35
Nick Caprario Kansas City, MO 2:16:01 Meghan Windschill Terrebonne, OR 2:36:13
Austin Bogina Arma, KS 2:16:19 Courtney Olsen Bellingham, Wa 2:36:17
Rajpaul Pannu Denver, CO 2:16:39 Emma Spencer Durham, NC 2:36:33
Ben Fletcher Albuquerque, NM 2:16:41 Andrea Masterson Seattle, WA 2:36:43
David Mutai Langley, BC 2:17:02 Kelly Calway Mclean, VA 2:37:00
Chris Bendtsen Brooklyn, NY 2:17:03 Elizabeth Lagoy Salt Lake City, UT 2:37:06
Chris Balestrini London, ON 2:17:05 Kimberly Krezonoski Toronto 2:37:12
Weston Strum San Francisco, CA 2:17:06 Hannah Moulton Ann Arbor, MI 2:37:18
Daniel Mulushet Zewdu Victoria, BC 2:17:08 Hannah Chau Huntington Beach, CA 2:37:18
Jeffrey Seelaus Brighton, MA 2:17:08 Alyssa McElheny Belding, MI 2:37:31
Matthew Baxter New Plymouth, MA 2:17:15 Tammy Hsieh Cambridge, MA 2:37:43
Brett Lustgarten Salt Lake City, UT 2:17:17 Jen Odenheimer Portola Valley, CA 2:37:48
Joe Niemiec Niceville, FL 2:17:18 AnnMarie Kirkpatrick Fort Collins, CO 2:37:49
Paxton Smith Miami, FL 2:17:19 Nicolette St. Lawrence Garrison, NY 2:37:56
Kurt Roeser Longmont, CO 2:17:25 Chelsea Benson Ithaca, NY 2:37:56
James Wilson Lawrence, KS 2:17:27 kristen heckert bolingbrook, IL 2:38:00
Andrew Williams Middlebury, IN 2:17:49 Maria Langholz Washington, DC 2:38:22
Ryan Archer Brooklyn, NY 2:17:51 Ann Centner Tallahassee, FL 2:38:29
William Fredericks Fort Collins, CO 2:17:54 Gina Rouse Knoxville, TN 2:38:42
Charles Remillard Denver, CO 2:17:56 Emilee Risteen Derry, NH 2:38:46
Christian Thompson Ooltewah, TN 2:17:59 Amy Schanz Sausalito, CA 2:38:50
Brandon Johnson Beaverton, OR 2:18:13 Kari Hamilton Pullman, WA 2:38:52
Jason Ayr Arvada, CO 2:18:14 Devon Yanko Howard, CO 2:38:55
Steven Tyler Underwood Chula Vista, CA 2:18:20 Megan Curham Warren, NJ 2:39:06
Duriel Hardy Austin, TX 2:18:21 Joanna Stephens Dallas, TX 2:39:06
Kevin Wood Winooski, VT 2:18:21 Teal Burrell Richmond, VA 2:39:08
Logan Barrett Jeffersonville, IN 2:18:25 Cassidy Heaton Durham, NC 2:39:08
kevin hansen Lake Forest Park, WA 2:18:25 Leigh Sharek BROOKLYN, NY 2:39:09
Jack Polerecky Flagstaff, AZ 2:18:25 Nicole Lane Sacramento, CA 2:39:13
Zack Beavin Boston, MA 2:18:26 Stephanie Rouse San Francisco, CA 2:39:19
Nicholas Spector Santa Ana, CA 2:18:29 Kaylee Flanagan Louisville, CO 2:39:26
Adam Wood Herriman, UT 2:18:37 Christine Ramsey-Hardy Austin, TX 2:39:33
Sean Grossman New York, NY 2:18:45 Gabriella DeLay Winston-Salem, NC 2:39:39
Oscar Medina san francisco, CA 2:18:45 Shannon Smith Flagstaff, AZ 2:39:40
Tyler Rollins New York, NY 2:18:45 Melissa Fairey Houston, TX 2:39:41
Josh Baden Lawrence, KS 2:18:49 Katie Hynes San Francisco, CA 2:39:56
Quinlan Moll Kansas City, MO 2:18:50 Lianne Farber Boston, MA 2:40:00
Max McNeill Arlington, VA 2:18:55 Rachel Drake Portland, OR 2:40:17
Alberto Mena New York, NY 2:18:57 Katie Layman Folsom, CA 2:40:29
Josh Hibbs Wyndmoor, PA 2:19:03 Sarah Sibert New York, NY 2:40:31
Sean Swift Cranford, NJ 2:19:08 Jessica Chichester Brooklyn, NY 2:40:34
ALexander Diltz Boulder, CO 2:19:26 Allison Dorr Bellingham, WA 2:40:54
Johnny Hogue Los Angeles, CA 2:19:26 Mary Denholm Lafayette, CO 2:40:59
Connor Reck Minneapolis, MN 2:19:27 EmKay Sullivan Reno, NV 2:41:00
Prescott Leach Waltham, MA 2:19:34 Carolyn Buchanan Evanston, IL 2:41:04
Brad Kahlefeldt Wagga, Australia 2:19:35 Ana Johnson Bronx, NY 2:41:11
Tyler Morse Beaverton, OR 2:19:35 Sakiko Minagawa Westerville, OH 2:41:12
Matt Hensley Superior, CO 2:19:51 Annie Marggraff San Francisco, CA 2:41:22
Michael Blaszczyk Novi, MI 2:19:51 Karen Bertasso-Hughes Selkirk, NY 2:41:27
Samuel Lanternier Boulder, CO 2:19:51 Katie Watson Longmont, CO 2:41:33
David Melly Boston, MA 2:19:57 Marit Ross-Sonnesyn Minneapolis, MN 2:41:37
Alexander Helmuth Monticello, IL 2:20:01 Margaret Ludick Minnetonka, MN 2:41:39
Joel Conn Okemos, MI 2:20:16 Brooke Slayman Solon, IA 2:41:46
Chris Maxwell Portland, OR 2:20:21 Erica Weitz Orlando, FL 2:41:54
Chase Pizzonia Long Island City, NY 2:20:26 Lauren Kelly Philadelphia, PA 2:41:59
Sean Donohue Middletown, NJ 2:20:27 Lauren Ames Southborough, MA 2:42:01
Jason Thomas West Des Moines, IA 2:20:28 Amanda Martin Knoxville, TN 2:42:03
Nicholas Tsotu Fair Oaks, CA 2:20:30 Jeannette Mathieu San Francisco, CA 2:42:22
Alex Archer Pittsburgh, PA 2:20:32 Alyssa Barrette Portland, OR 2:42:23
Zac Holtkamp Alexandria, KY 2:20:48 Hannah Bast Indianapolis, IN 2:42:24
Matthew Walker West Hartford, CT 2:20:49 Jessica West Longmont, CO 2:42:29
Justin Garrard Lincolnville, KS 2:21:13 Heather Kampf Minneapolis, MN 2:43:06
Christian Allen Orem, UT Debut Amy Tortorello Watertown, MA 2:44:00
Robert Brandt Arlington, VA Debut Aleta Looker Cambridge, MA 2:44:50
Ryan Cutter ARDMORE, PA Debut Anna Kacius San Francisco, CA 2:44:51
Kibrom Elias San Diego, CA Debut Stevi Clark New Braunfels, TX 2:46:00
Brandon Garnica Provo, UT Debut Rachel Butler Charlotte, NC Debut
Samuel Gerstenbacher Lancaster, PA Debut Stephanie Garcia Cichosz Kirkland, WA Debut
Cole Hoff Portland, OR Debut Abbie McNulty San Francisco, CA Debut
Thomas Madden Bozeman, MT Debut Angie Nickerson Flagstaff, AZ Debut
Robert Miranda Venice, CA Debut Jennifer Sandoval Fontana, CA Debut
Logan Rees Boise, ID Debut Gillian Meeks Davis, CA Debut
Neil Saddler Charleston, SC Debut
Allen Sumrall Albuquerque, NM Debut
Charlie Sweeney Boulder, CO Debut
Aaron templeton Boulder, CO Debut
Adam Walker St. Louis, MO Debut