I wanted to do a post on California International Marathon, as I have gotten quite a few questions regarding the race itself. The race is advertised as one of the fastest courses in the country, so naturally it gets a LOT of attention (especially from those with dreams of OQT's and BQ's).
I tried to break it down into various aspects of the race. As always a reminder that I am not affiliated with the race, and all of this is simply based on my own experience this ONE time I ran it. You can read my recap of the race here, might offer more personalized insight than this post.
Small enough, but big enough. Good variety of exhibitors, quick and easy packed pickup, good location (not cramped, centrally located). Everything was really well organized and had no issues with picking up bib's and shirts. There is a also Starbucks in the Sacramento Convention center where the expo is, so that is clearly a selling point for coffee & running addicts alike.
Busses were timely, and nice to have warm place to relax at the start in the cold. They had over 300 portopotties, once nice long line of them, little to no wait if you walked down a little further. Kudos to the race organizers on this, how many times do you hear people say "OMG they had enough potties!". Seriously though, that matters!!!
Corrals would have been nice, but it wasn't the worst start I have experienced. I didn't like that handcycles started with runners, it was dangerous about 1/2 mile in when handcyclists were coming up behind runners. (<---I'm beginning to wonder if the one that came up behind me started later than he was supposed to?)
Some were more organized than others, worst part was that it was so cold that spilled water turned to ice, almost slipped on a few different occasions (not that I am saying that is race's fault AT ALL. I know they aren't in cahoots with Mother nature). I'm not sure if I was hallucinating but I think that the water cups and the Powerade cups were different colors which made it easy to distinguish (although I always say "water?" before I take a cup--learned my lesson at a race a few years ago). Quantity wise, there was enough water stops, and I know they had gel stops (I always bring my own) so for some that was important.
Mile Markers & Tracking
The miles were all clearly marked with nice big signs, gave me something to look forward to seeing. As for splits, they had mats at start, 5.9, 13.1, 20, and Finish. It would be nice if they offered runner tracking that wasn't ONLY for social media (they offered posting to twitter/facebook)- I know some people would prefer emails or texts so they don't have to sit on FB and wait to see it pop up without notification.
Rolling Hills (& CIM vs. Wineglass)
MY PERSONAL OPINION is that the first half the course was tougher than I expected with the rollers. I wouldn't say it was super hard or anything but I honestly think Wineglass was an easier course. (This is specifically because a few people asked if I thought CIM was faster course than Wineglass). Again, no crazy hills, but if you didn't start conservatively there was definitely the chance for bonking (which is the case for ANY race, let's be honest). Overall I DO think it can be a very fast course when run wisely.
There were a decent amount through a good chunk of the course. I was amazed at the amount of people outside their homes (many in PJ's) braving the cold cheering on runners in first few miles of the course. The little town around 10 was really hoppin', lots of people and bands outside making things extra lively. Also nice whenever we passed relay exchanges because there was WAY more people around. Thank you to all the people out there in that cold weather, we appreciate it!!
This is the first time I did a race with separate male/female finish lines, this didn't make a big difference for me either way. The medals were great, they also had space blankets which was huge especially on a cold day.
It was a little less organized at the start. Basically looked like a concert scene but with bunch of clear bags crowd surfing over peoples heads being passed into trucks. BUT the trucks were all marked with bib #'s so you knew where to go, so there's that.But it was MUCH more organized at the finish. They had them all lined up by number and you had a nice volunteer (a lot of kids) eager to run as fast as they could to get your bag for you.
The food that they did have was good- hot soups, a WIDE selection of kind bars, water, coke, and some other things. Not the biggest selection of overall food, but wasn't the worst either. Unless I missed the pizza, bananas, bagels and coffee section- they were lacking the post-race basics for me.
Really cool finishing in front of the Capital building (along with their gigantic Christmas tree). I would recommend that they adopt a system for family meet up (like the alphabetical signs or something of the sort) because there is a LOT of runners, and a lot more family members to crowd in and try to find each other.
I highly recommend they invest in disposable chip timing. It was not fun to have to stop and lift your leg up onto a stool so someone could cut it off your shoe after you just ran 26.2 miles. "You want me to lift my leg up....now?"
I really liked the race, and would definitely run it again. They managed 14,000 people pretty darn well if you ask me. The city is a nice place to visit and I wish I could have spent a little more time wandering around. As for it being one of the fastest courses in the country- I have only ran 7 marathons so I don't think I can say yes or no. YES, this was my PR so it has potential to be a good course for that, but I also think that my training had more to do with it than the course itself. Courses are what you make of them, you train for whatever course you are going to be running and you will stand a better chance no matter what. I can say with 90% certainty that I WILL run this course again someday, but there are so many races out there that I wan't to try others as well.
Anyone else have thoughts regarding this race?
I know there are some things that others experienced that I didn't, please share!!!