Sacramento area streets were filled with masses of runners and cheering supporters Sunday morning during the California International Marathon, a downhill course hosted by the Sacramento Running Association.
The race, which was founded in 1983, starts its course in Folsom and brings runners through Sacramento’s suburbs – Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks and Carmichael – until they reach the finish line at the State Capitol.
Brogan Austin of West Des Moines, Iowa, came in first place in his first professional marathon with a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 38 seconds.
Emma Bates of Boise, Idaho — also running her first professional marathon — still the top-ranked woman in the marathon, clocking in at 2 hours, 28 minutes, 19 seconds, and coming in at 145th overall.
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Bates didn’t take any sponsorships for the race, she said, so instead of wearing corporate logos, she wore gear that read “run for Camp Fire relief” and encouraged people to donate to Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation, a Chico-based Camp Fire relief fund.
“Being a professional runner gives us a unique platform in that we have the opportunity to reach out to others,” she said. “I think it’s really important to spread a message that can impact a lot of people’s lives and make a big difference. … I really wanted to win today so that I could reach a broader audience.”
Runners Kelsey Wilson and her sister Kimberly Mangrum lost their Paradise homes and businesses in the Camp Fire, destroying medals from previous races, race officials said.
The Sacramento Running Association announced it would be replacing their old medals in addition to awarding the new ones they earned in the race.
Sacramento police officer Brian Hoh ran the marathon in full patrol gear, finishing the 26.2-mile slog in 4.5 hours.
Halfway through, Austin was having difficulty and thought he was going to have a bad race, but he bounced back around mile 23, he said.
Austin said his finish was like “a dream come true.”
Both Austin and Bates are hoping to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
The California International Marathon is a qualifier for both the 2020 Olympic Trials and the Boston Marathon. It is an especially good course for qualifiers because it is mostly downhill.
“My sister’s friend is running the race. She’s trying to get to Boston,” onlooker Cathie Rohlfes said while she waited for her friend to pass by. “She is a breast cancer survivor and she amazes me, she just keeps on going. That’s why I’m here, to show her support.”
Davide Richmond, a runner who qualified for the Boston Marathon, could not qualify last year because he was too slow by a minute or two, he said.
“I’m exhausted but elated and very happy, so a couple cramps later, I’m good to go,” Richmond said, adding that he will take a bit of time to relax, but afterward he will take on more marathons to prepare for Boston.
Heather Grave said she was in shock after hearing she had qualified for the Boston Marathon. After crossing the finish line, she said she wanted to cry from all the excitement.
Richmond and Grave finished in 3 hours, 19 minutes, and 3 hours, 25 minutes, respectively.
The Sacramento Running Association estimates that roughly 100,000 people participated.
Not all runners participated in the full 26.2 mile course – some ran a 2.62 mile “maraFUNrun” while others teamed up in groups of four and ran the full course as a relay.
Wesley Odd was one of these runners; he chose to run the marathon for the ninth time on his 60th birthday with his twin brother Wayne, along with his new son-in-law, Ruben Arceo, and family friend Jaime Mejia.
“We’ve got a four-man team, my brother’s running the first leg, 7.3 miles, Jaime is running 6.2, (Ruben)’s running 7, and I’ll run the 5.6 coming in,” Wayne said. “Sixtieth birthday run.”
Along the way, onlookers cheered the runners as they waited for friends or family to pass.
“We’re here to cheer on our friend Erin,” onlooker Ali Petrul said while cheering in Orangevale. “She is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Trials. She’s been working her butt off so we woke up really really early – my alarm went off at 5:30 – and it’s freezing cold, I don’t know how she’s doing it.”
“Erin’s up before the sun every morning and so getting up early is no big deal,” Emilie Schneider added. “We’re here to support her, we love her, she’s been working hard, and we’re all going to be here along the course for her and see her finish.”
Ben Schroeder, a California International Marathon volunteer and Toby Johnson middle school student, handed out water and sports drinks to runners while shouting words of encouragement as they passed by the 17th mile marker in Carmichael.
“I really like doing this because it helps the community,” Schroeder said. “I’m doing it for my school, it benefits my school and everyone around here because they get water and nutrients.”