Nov. 28, 2012
Twenty-eighth 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

A group of 16 runners completes 25th CIM
They’re dedicated and dependable, a group that found a way to finish the California International Marathon year after year after year.

They celebrated the CIM’s 25th anniversary in 2007 by going out and finishing the race for the 25th consecutive time, no small feat given the chance for illness, injury or the kind of weather that keeps you in bed on race day.

“It felt good; it felt real good,” Woodland’s Alfred Saragoza said of his 25th consecutive finish.

Saragoza, who was 60 for that race, kept his streak going despite undergoing surgery to replace his aortic valve.

“I went back to training,” he said. “I was really amazed. They (doctors) just said to keep doing what you’re doing.”

Saragoza opted to end his streak after the 2007 race. Three others who finished the first 25 CIMs – Web Chadwick, Blake McDonald and James Raia – have also since stopped their streaks.

But on that December day in 2007, they shared the spotlight with the 12 streakers still going strong heading into Sunday’s race: Michael Buzbee, Steve Haun, Bruce Mauldin, Michael Nolan, John O’Neill, Steve Polansky, Michael Ryan, Michael Sullivan, Ernie Takahashi, Tim Twietmeyer, Barry Turner and Denis Zilaff.

Polansky admits to setting three alarm clocks to make sure he doesn’t miss the start. He also notes how ‘phantom pains’ tend to show up in the days leading up to the race.

“As you start to get closer, perhaps two weeks out, you begin to imagine that every little momentary pain is going to explode into a larger problem to keep you from the start line,” he said.

“By marathon morning, it’s lucky if you can walk to the start.”

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 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.