Nov. 29, 2012
Twenty-ninth 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

Visually Impaired Championships become part of marathon in 2007
Folsom’s Richard Hunter, a visually impaired athlete, approached California International Marathon race director John Mansoor back in 2007 with an idea.

Why not make the CIM the home of the national visually impaired marathon championships?

The event started with two runners in 2007 and has grown to an expected field of 30 for Sunday’s U.S. Association of Blind Athletes National Championships, with about half of the visually impaired runners competing in the marathon and the other half in the CIM’s relay.

“I told him (Mansoor) I’d help set it up and grow the field of competitors,” Hunter said. “We’ve been able to attract some of the top visually impaired marathoners in the country.

“We have a pretty fast field. I’m really excited about the run.”

The visually-impaired field includes Seattle’s Aaron Scheidies, a seven-time World Triathlon champion who won last year’s title in 2 hours, 48 minutes and 19 seconds, and New Zealand’s Rob Matthews, a 22-time world record holder who has won eight Paralympic gold medals for Great Britain.

The event is sponsored by Vision Service Plan.

Scheidies called the treatment visually impaired runners have received from the CIM “amazing.” He also noted he’s ready to run even faster this year.

“I expect to blow my time away,” he said.

The visually impaired runners will use guides to help them navigate the 26.2-mile course from Folsom to the state Capitol.??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.