Nov. 23, 2012
Twenty-fifth in a series of the top 30 moments from the California International Marathon’s colorful history. The 30th anniversary race is on Dec. 2. By John Schumacher

Ndambuki nips Kabiso in dramatic 2006 duel
Their faces said it all.

Kenyan Jonathan Ndambuki’s eyes bulged nearly out of his head. Ethiopian Kassahun Kabiso wore a pained expression from his eyes to his tightened jaws.

After 26.1 miles, the 2006 California International Marathon came down to a dramatic, captivating sprint to the finish.

Ndambuki and Kabiso rounded the final turn onto Capitol Mall together, neither holding an advantage as they turned for home and the final sprint in front of a huge crowd.

In the final few strides, Ndambuki pulled ahead, crossing the finish line in 2:14:58, just ahead of Kabiso’s 2:14:59. The difference was maybe three feet, similar to the close finish in the 1992 CIM, when Steve Plasencia edged Keith Brantly.

Ndambuki and Kabiso had run with the leaders the entire race, setting up their memorable dash in front of the Capitol.

“There’s nothing better than to have that in a marathon,” CIM race director John Mansoor said. “Going side by side the whole race and then down to the finish.

“They both put it on the line … It was exciting to see them come down the final 150 meters.”

Both runners had success in other marathons. Ndambuki won the Big Sur Marathon in 2003, 2004 and 2005; Kabiso captured the Vancouver Marathon in 2005 and 2006.

The CIM is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

Other SRA events include the recently concluded Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.