For 34 years, race offers support, competition and inspiration

Amid the opening of the Golden 1 Center, the broad success of the area’s professional sports teams and the return of prominent events to Sacramento, the California International Marathon continues to strengthen the local sports landscape and make a significant impact on the community.

The 34th annual race, set for Sunday at 7 a.m., has stood the test of time, its combination of international competition, community impact and inspiration helping the CIM stand out among local sporting events.

A field of 9,000 marathoners, including runners from 34 countries, is scheduled to challenge the 26.2-mile course from near Folsom Dam to the state Capitol. Another 3,500 runners are entered in the CIM Relay Challenge, with 2,000 more participants set for the UC Davis Children’s Hospital maraFUNrun and Fitness Walk.

Kenyan Elisha Barno will be looking to defend his 2015 title while fellow Kenyan and 2014 champion Jacob Chemtai and 2012 CIM winner Daniel Tapia of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. both appear capable of winning the men’s race.

Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo and Americans Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and local favorite Lauren Jimison look to be strong contenders in the women’s race.

The men’s and women’s winners earn $10,000 each. There’s also a $5,000 bonus for breaking a course record and a $5,000 American Performance List bonus in play for the deep American fields.

A crowd of 50,000 spectators is expected to line the course running through Folsom, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Carmichael and Sacramento. Another 2,000 volunteers are scheduled to assist operations throughout the weekend’s events.

The CIM, which has doubled in size in the last 10 years, is organized by the Sacramento Running Association.

While prominent professional and collegiate championship sporting events have come and gone and returned again, the CIM has consistently made a positive contribution to the Sacramento sports scene for 33 consecutive years.

Runners are expected to fill over 4,000 hotel room nights and generate a strong economic impact to the Sacramento region at a time of year when local hotel business typically slows. Past estimates have put the race’s economic impact close to $8 million.

“Sacramento is proud to welcome the California International Marathon back to Sacramento,” said Visit Sacramento President and CEO Steve Hammond.

“The continued growth and success of CIM translates to considerable, positive impact to our region in the form of visitors, as well as national and international exposure.

“This year’s 10 percent increase in runner participation underscores the importance and prominence of the marathon, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

In addition to the impact on local hotels, restaurants and retailers, the race, through the work of the Sacramento Running Association, raises over $400,000 for local charities and community organizations through leveraged fundraising and direct giving every year.

The race also funds SRA donations of over $50,000 annually to official partner charities including chief beneficiary UC Davis Children’s Hospital and exposes 4,000 Sacramento-area youth to the sport of running and healthy lifestyle options through the SRA Kids program.

“UC Davis Children’s Hospital is proud to be the chief beneficiary of the California International Marathon and receive such generous support from the Sacramento Running Association,” said Ann Madden Rice, CEO of UC Davis Medical Center.

“Through charity entries, runners have been able to register and help support sick and injured children in the Sacramento community and the 33 counties that we serve.”

In addition to its own philanthropic efforts, the Sacramento Running Association is committed to helping fundraise for Sacramento-area non-profits organizations, charities, service organizations, and school groups and clubs. Local charities and non-profit organizations annually raise over $1 million through SRA events, including the California International Marathon.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, you’ll find it all along the course, whether it’s at the front of the pack, the middle or the back.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding new 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 Run the Parkway and Capital Cross Challenge, the Super Sunday Run on Feb. 5, the Credit Union SACTOWN Run on April 2, the Gold Rush 50k on May 14 and the inaugural Gold Country Run on June 11.