11/28/2012, 11:45am PST

As other events come and go, marathon’s impact hits home

Nov. 28, 2012
For immediate release

Major sporting events visit Sacramento on a regular basis, giving the capital city community a jolt of energy.

The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials … The Amgen Tour of California pro cycling race … The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

All have come and gone, leaving great memories but not sticking around to make a more lasting impact.

The California International Marathon, though, has stood the test of time. The CIM heads into its 30th anniversary race on Sunday enjoying a surge in growth, an enhanced reputation and the prospect of a bright future.

And it’s not going anywhere.

A field of 9,300 marathoners, 4,400 relay runners and 2,000 Kaiser maraFUNrun participants is expected on Sunday for an event that’s become an integral part of the Sacramento sports landscape.

That’s twice the size of the field five years ago. The race’s reputation for good weather and a fast course have attracted thousands of runners hoping to land a Boston Marathon qualifying time, a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials or a personal best.

“It’s great to see America now realizes what a great race we have here,” CIM race director John Mansoor said. “A lot of runners are coming to try to qualify for Boston or achieve PRs.

“We’re doing extremely well. This is all to the betterment of the Sacramento area.”

A marketing campaign fueled by financial help from the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau has helped the CIM spread the word at other marathons around the country and in Canada.

“They have provided marketing dollars,” Mansoor said of SCVB officials. “They’ve been very helpful.”

SCVB officials said they’re happy to help the CIM, which provides an annual economic impact of close to $8 million at a time of year that’s usually slow for local hotels.

“This couldn’t come at a better time for us,” said SCVB president and CEO Steve Hammond. “The hotel community, you think about the first weekend in December is typically a slow time. We don’t have a lot of opportunity in December to book big conventions.

“To have an event like this that generates hotel rooms is great.”

SCVB vice president Mike Testa said it was an easy decision to help the CIM with its marketing effort.

“Obviously the marathon is in demand and you can tell that by its growth over the years,” he said. “It generates a lot of hotel rooms and also positive attention for this region.

“When you have a well-organized and well-received event like CIM, it’s a no-brainer for us to get involved.”

Testa called the 2,260 room nights the CIM generates “a great thing for hotels.”

Hammond credited Mansoor and the Sacramento Running Association for developing the marathon into such a success.

“Not only is the event still in town, but it’s flourishing and growing every year,” Hammond said.

The CIM, which begins at 7 a.m., 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.