If you know anything about me, you know how much I love the CIM. This year was the 4th time I have run this race and I feel like it just keeps getting better.
The CIM starts in Folsom and you make your way to the State Capitol. The organization of this race is always amazing. Plenty of busses to take you to the start, lots of porta potties at the start, trucks loading your bags for gear check, plenty of room at the start to get in the pace section you want, road closures, photographers, finish line medals, water & food...it is the most smooth transition from start to finish. One thing that has changed that I thought was great was the bus transportation is FREE to the start. You just show up at one of the multiple locations and you are taken to the start line. You're also allowed to stay on the bus until 15 minutes before race time (7am start).
This year I worked the expo and I realized how much work goes into those things! The expo for CIM is big, lots of great vendors, they have an expert panel talking about the course and how to run it successfully and lots of great opportunities for photos.
The race its self is relatively flat. The biggest hill is actually within the first mile (I think it is the biggest). From miles 9-13 there are a few hills but nothing terrible. There are spectators everywhere cheering you on, lots of music, great signs so that always helps. Running through Folsom and Fair Oaks is nice. It is always pretty and green that time of year. From mile 12.8ish to 16 are the "middle miles" - that is what they call it. That is through Carmichael and is kind of the boring part of the race for me. But hey, it's only 3 or 4 miles. 17 and on is where it gets good. Mile 20 is "the wall" they have music, cheer leaders and LOTS of people out!
My favorite miles are 23-26.2 and not only because that is the end but because that is my neighborhood. I know the shops, the people every block and turn we make. There is more music, alcohol (if that's your thing!) a man dressed like Jesus with a sign reading, "THE END of the race IS NEAR". Running down L street is where you can really speed it up. It is flat as a pancake, you can see the State Capitol and you can feel the energy from everyone there. As you get to 8th street and turn the corner there is one more turn to make down Capitol Mall and there it is! The finish line, right in front of the Capitol! As soon as you cross you're greeted with your medal, photos, and directed to food. There is also a beer garden, but it isn't good beer so I've never participated in that part. I'm a beer snob. The Capitol is decorated with Christmas wreaths and the Christmas tree is up in front of the Capitol as well - so again, more great photos!
This year there were a lot of people I know that BQ'd at this race and I believe we had 14 Olympic Trial Qualifiers this year. This course is perfect for first timers - good crowd, pretty flat and overall a nice course. The weather is usually good too. Of the 4 times I have run this race it has rained twice (this year was pretty much 10 minutes of showers, so that doesn't really count). It is usually chilly, but sunny. I have heard that every 5 years it is stormy, but that wouldn't keep me away from this great race!