Added participant services and course elements highlight 35-year celebration

The California International Marathon will celebrate 35 years on December 3 with its largest field of runners, a prestigious national designation as the host of the USATF Marathon Championships and several community and participant-focused enhancements.

General marathon registration and marathon charity entries have pushed the registration total to over 11,000 runners with another 7,000 runners combined in the CIM Relay Challenge and maraFUNrun 5k for a race weekend total of 18,000 participants.

All participants will be treated to special runner incentives including an upgrade from the long sleeve tech shirt to a quarter zip jacket, CIM socks, a #CIM35 reusable shopping bag and a runner-centric buff garment.

Largest Field in History

The race has grown tremendously since 2005 when it featured 4,000 runners. With 6,176 finishers in 2016, the CIM ranked as the 13th largest marathon in the country. Race organizers hope to jump ahead of the Chevron Houston Marathon, Grandma’s Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon to crack the top 10 in 2017.

The first CIM in 1983 had 1,600 entrants.

“As a long-standing event in an industry saturated with options, growth is not expected for events such as CIM; however, CIM continues to see growth year-in and year-out, and the Sacramento Running Association is excited to continue be able to expand to find ways to share this special event with more and more people,” said SRA Executive Director Scott Abbott.

New 5k Course

Since 1986, the Sacramento Running Association has hosted a shorter distance event held in conjunction with the California International Marathon.

The original 5K fun run, called the Celebrity 5K, was initially established in 1986 and was held on the day before the marathon at several locations, including Cal Expo. It attracted local media personalities as well as famous runners such as 1972 Olympic Gold Medal marathoner Frank Shorter and high school mile record holder Jim Ryun. Parents, marathoners’ friends, and many of the marathoners themselves participated, often with their kids.

In 1990, in an effort to tie the fun run more closely to the marathon, the distance was shortened to a catchy 2.62-miles and was titled “maraFUNrun.” The 2.62-mile maraFUNrun was held in conjunction with the CIM from 1990 to 2016.

For the first time since 1989, the shorter distance event held in conjunction with the marathon will be a 5k course. The UC Davis Children’s Hospital maraFUNrun 5k is now a timed 5k geared for runners of all ages.

Earlier this fall, the SRA partnered with the premier youth fitness program in Sacramento – Runnin’ for Rhett. The partnership between the Sacramento Running Association and Runnin’ for Rhett features a fall training program specifically designed to train kids to run the CIM’s maraFUNrun 5k held on the same day as the marathon. The partnership will also encompass the entire school year as participating programs are encouraged to train from August to June.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Runnin’ for Rhett to re-introduce the 5k distance to CIM race weekend,” said CIM Race Director Eli Asch.

“With Runnin’ for Rhett’s reach through their youth fitness program and the SRA’s deep ties to the Sacramento running community, we expect this event to become a gateway to lifelong fitness through road-racing–and maybe even eventually tackling the full marathon–for thousands of Sacramento-area runners of all ages.”

Relay Challenge Includes 2-Person or 3- and 4-Person Teams

The idea was to give runners a taste of the marathon atmosphere, hoping they’d get fired up enough to want to run the whole 26.2 miles.

By that standard alone, the California International Marathon’s Relay Challenge has evolved into a huge success.

The four-person relay, introduced in 1991, helped grow the marathon field and developed into a competitive event of its own. Shortly thereafter, race organizers began to see some three-person relay teams competing in the relay challenge.

For the first time, two-person relays will be formally allowed to register and compete in the 2017 version of the CIM Relay Challenge.

The CIM Relay Challenge allows runners to participate in the marathon experience, have access to race support, and enjoy the camaraderie of team competition, without committing to run the 26.2-mile distance.

Southwest Airlines sponsored the original relay, which drew about 15 teams. The relay kept growing, attracting about 200 teams in 1999, 350 in 2005 and close to 500 in 2006. This year’s field is expected to include 1,100 teams.

A high school division was added in 1994, a Political Animals Division was added in 2005 and a Police-Fire Division in 2007.

In 2017, relay divisions are for male, female or co-ed teams and consist of corporate, family, fitness club, high school, open, fire-police-military, political and running club teams.

The Sacramento Running Association is 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 Capital Cross Challenge and Run the Parkway, the Super Sunday Run on Feb. 4, 2018, the Credit Union SACTOWN Run on April 8, 2018 and the Gold Country Half on June 10, 2018.