Nov. 2, 2012
Tenth 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

Former UC Davis runner later became Olympian
Linda Somers never gave up. She just kept getting better.

She was a good runner at UC Davis, but not a star. That role belonged to Patti Gray, a three-time NCAA Division II national champion who went on to win the 1987 California International Marathon.

Gray consistently beat Somers, a former tennis player who didn’t get serious about running until her final two years of college.

After college, though, Somers blossomed with a series of impressive performances that included some big moments at the CIM and a trip to the Olympic Games.

The 1993 CIM served as the women’s national championship. Somers delivered, winning
in 2:34:11, well ahead of Diana Fitzpatrick (2:37:32) and Gordon Bakoulis (2:38:35) despite going out too fast.

“That was a big moment,” said CIM race director John Mansoor, who helped Somers transition to the marathon after her UC Davis days.

She had plenty of others, including a 2:33:40 performance in 1989 that remains the fastest time by a Sacramento-area woman in CIM history.

Somers defended her 1993 U.S. national title with a 2:33:42 effort in the 1994 U.S. national championship at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.

She wound up qualifying for seven U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, finishing second in the ’96 Trials in a personal best 2:30:06 en route to a 31st place finish at the Games in Atlanta.

Somers also placed seventh in the 1995 World Championships with a 2:32:12 effort and was 11th at the 1995 Boston Marathon with a 2:34:30 performance.

And she’s still going strong. Somers, a UC Davis Law School graduate and an attorney in San Luis Obispo, finished 28th at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials last January in Houston with a 2:37:36 effort at age 50.

“Linda is my poster child as a coach,” Mansoor said. “I compare Linda with (2012 Olympian and UC Davis graduate) Kim Conley this year.

“She (Somers) could not beat Patti Gray … Linda worked and worked and worked. She was just in Patti’s shadow the whole time.

“She wouldn’t give up. Linda made the Olympic team. The point is, it was very much like Kim Conley, overshadowed by so many people. Like Linda, she just kept at it.”

And reaped some pretty big rewards.

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 just 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.