Fresno Native & Colorado Resident Win Titles at 40th California International Marathon

More than 40 Elite Runners Hit Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard, Continuing CIM’s Reputation as a Fast Course

On a sunny and crisp winter morning in California’s capital city, Fresno native CJ Albertson and Kenya’s Grace Kahura-Malang claimed victory at the 40th edition of the California International Marathon.

In Albertson and Kahura-Malang’s footsteps were dozens of American men and women aspiring to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on February 3 in Orlando. On the final day runners could hit qualifying marks, 27 men and 14 women ultimately ran under qualifying times (2:18:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women) to punch their tickets to the Sunshine State in two months.

Albertson, who in the past has proclaimed victory at marathons in Fresno and Modesto, played the role of hunter throughout much of the race while marathon debutant Christian Allen pushed the pace from the front. Albertson, the world record holder in the road 50k and indoor track marathon, caught Allen at mile 23 and pulled away to earn his first CIM crown in 2:11:09.

“Winning is always good, no matter where it is. But being from the Central Valley and knowing all the people out here today was extra special,” said Albertson. “Having a win under me when I wasn’t feeling my best is a confidence builder for the Olympic Trials. I’m excited to go into training for that.”

Milton Rotich, a native of Kenya and resident of Albuquerque, NM, was second in 2:13:04 and Charlie Sweeney of Boulder, Colo., who was making his marathon debut, finished third in 2:13:41.

The women’s race was spared of late dramatics as Kahura-Malang pulled away from her competitors from the gun and won the race wire-to-wire in a finishing time of 2:29:00. 

“I loved the atmosphere here,” said Kahura-Malang. “The weather was great. The organization was just fantastic. I would love to come back here.”

Kahura-Malang, who lives and trains in Longmont, Colo., cited her ailing coach, who is battling cancer, as her motivation to run so much of the race alone.

“I kept thinking about him throughout the race because he wasn’t able to write my training plan leading up to this race,” said Kahura-Malang. “This win I dedicate to him.”

Allie Kieffer from Austin, Texas finished in second place in 2:33:26 and Ava Nuttall, a graduate of Miami University in Ohio, crossed the finish line in third in 2:35:09.

Both race winners, Albertson and Kahura-Malang, take home $10,000 in prize money, with monetary prizes going to the top five finishers for each gender. Runners that hit Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying marks each received $500 in prize money.

The California International Marathon has been organized by the Sacramento Running Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

“For 40 years, CIM has been about human achievement whether you’re attempting an Olympic Trials qualifier or just finishing 26.2 miles for the first time,” said SRA Executive Director Scott Abbott. “This civic amenity has been a great pride for our region for these last four decades, and we look forward to continuing this annual tradition for years to come.”

In addition to the 10,000 marathon runners, an estimated 1,000 CIM relay runners, 75,000 spectators, and 4,000 volunteers also participated in the festivities. The race generated an estimated $11 million economic impact for the Sacramento region and has raised more than $500,000 for local charities and community organizations through leveraged fundraising and direct giving.

Full race results can be found here.