Posted by: David Stewart | December 17, 2009

CIM High-Lows

The California International Marathon is generally a good race. But I have a few complaints.  Here are my highs/lows:


  1. Calling out the average pace at every mile split – This is absolutely the nicest feature of the race, and I don’t understand why it’s not standard practice at every marathon. Here’s what happens: at every mile marker, a volunteer calls out the elapsed “official” time or “gun” time as it’s called. This is standard race practice, and if you have a pace chart tattooed to your arm (as I did) it’s fine. But they also had another volunteer calling out the average pace per mile. Cool! You get constant feedback about how close you are to your goal.
  2. Gentle downhill course, though they make a bit too much of this (see below).
  3. The bus to the starting line acts as a warming hut. They allow you to stay on the bus before the start and they keep the engine running. This is very nice since the temperature before this year’s start was below 30 degrees F.
  4. Good participants’ shirt, technical fabric, nice design, they don’t go cheap here.


  1. The food at the end is messed up. My biggest complaint by far. When I finished the race and was wandering around in near delirium, trying not to cramp up or throw up, I searched for the food. I was incredibly disappointed that there was a huge line to get to the food.  This is because they were cooking hot pancakes for everyone at the head of the line, and it was a bottleneck. Now, I loved the pancakes, but the food line was a huge disappointment. This should be revamped.
  2. Intermediate results timing at the 20 mile mark is really misleading. As I wrote elsewhere, the intermediate timing mat at the 20 mile mark is set up quite a bit after the actual 20 mile mark, but it’s reported up to the web as being at 20.  If someone is tracking you on the web, this can lead your friends and loved ones to be really concerned.  For me, it showed my average pace per mile to be 10 seconds per mile slower than what it really was! They should change this if they continue to put intermediate timing results on the Internet.
  3. Yes, it’s net downhill, but… There are some sections which are very rolling and if you are not prepared or trained for the uphills, it can be a big problem. And they really hype this factor quite a bit, which is embarrassing. Here are some quotes from off of the CIM website:

“A fast, if not THE FASTEST, course in the country.” – Bart Yasso

“The one to run for your Boston Qualifier, Trials Qualifier, PR goal, first marathon!”

“The Fastest Course in the West!”

… but the course definitely has it’s uphill moments, which I was not prepared for.



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