California International Marathon (CIM) PReview: Americans Push For Olympic Trials Qualifier
November 23, 2015
A strong group of international runners head the men’s and women’s fields while a group of talented American standouts look to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials at the 33rd annual California International Marathon on Dec. 6.
Kenyan Jacob Chemtai will be looking to defend his 2014 title while Kibrom Ghebrezghebher of Eritrea and fellow Kenyan Elisha Barno both appear capable of winning the men’s race and the $10,000 first prize on the 26.2-mile course from near Folsom Dam to the state Capitol.
Chemtai, who set a marathon best of 2:11:56 last year, beat everyone home in the 2014 men’s race throwing in a pair of sub-5 minute miles to pull away from the lead pack. He was also the third-place finisher in the 2013 CIM.
Ghebrezghebher enters the race with the fastest marathon time in the field having run a 2:09:36 earlier this year. Barno has a personal best of 2:09:45.
“I am very happy to have the opportunity to come back and defend my title from 2014 and I am ready to win again as I know the course well,” said Chemtai. “The course is a fast one and I think the record is possible if the weather turns out well.
“CIM remains my favorite marathon as this is where I have run my best time to date and because of the great crowd support which made me extremely happy.
“Sacramento is also a fantastic city to be in for a race. CIM is one of the most professionally organized races.”
Kenyan Jane Kibii, who has lived in Auburn, was the 2014 CIM runner-up and heads the women’s side on the strength of her 2:31:44 personal best.
Fellow Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo, owner of a 2:26:32 personal best, and 2011 CIM champion and 2:31:39-marathoner Serkalem Abrha of Ethiopia also look to be strong contenders for the title and $10,000 first prize.
“CIM is a world class event with a very personal feel,” said Kibii.
“Jane is always excited to run in Sacramento,” added Brad Poore, Kibii’s agent. “SRA, the local community and the people of the greater Sacramento-area have always been great to Jane. She would love to thank the people of Sacramento by winning this race for them, and she intends to keep trying until she does.”
The CIM, which begins at 7 a.m., is put on by the Sacramento Running Association.
“A strong elite field will again convene for the 33rd annual California International Marathon,” said CIM race director Eli Asch. “At the front of the race, 2014 men’s champion Jacob Chemtai of Kenya will return to defend his title and 2014 women’s runner-up and former Sacramento-area resident Jane Kibii will attempt to move up to the top place on the 2015 CIM podium.
“This year, though, much of the drama will take place in the chase packs, where a strong field of American elites will hope to take advantage of the CIM’s reputation as an Olympic Trials Qualifier factory, pursuing the qualifying clockings that will earn them a place on the starting line at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February.”
Just behind the lead packs, the CIM will provide pacers to help runners attain the men’s (2:18:00) and women’s (2:43:00) ‘B’ qualifying standards for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Runners need to match or beat the ‘B’ qualifying standard to earn a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials field. Runners attaining the ‘A’ standard – 2:15:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women – will receive funding support for the Trials, set for Los Angeles.
With 32 first-time Olympic Trials qualifiers already under its belt in the first two years of the qualifying window, CIM looks to become the first and only U.S. marathon with over 40 first-time qualifiers. The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, Minn., has 34 first-time qualifiers but has already run the 2015 race and will not hold another event during the qualifying window.
According to CIM elite coordinator Danielle Domenichelli, as many as 60 athletes will start the race with the Olympic Trials pacers with the hopes of punching their ticket to the Olympic Trials. CIM officials are hopeful that between 10 and 15 of those American athletes achieve the respective qualifying marks.
All athletes, past and future, who punch their Olympic Trials ticket at CIM will be given a U.S. flag with unique embroidery signifying their qualifying run at CIM.
The CIM will also offer bonuses for U.S. runners achieving the Trials’ standards: $2,500 for an ‘A’ standard and $1,000 for a ‘B’ standard. Athletes must be current U.S. citizens and eligible to represent the U.S. in international competition.
“We wish them all luck, and look forward to cutting quite a few Olympic Trials Qualifier bonus checks,” said Asch.
The CIM is widely recognized as an ideal race to earn an Olympic Trials qualifying time because of the typically cool weather and the fast, slightly downhill course. The race is one of the few U.S. marathons that makes significant efforts to cater to the potential Trials qualifier by using pacers and qualifying bonuses.
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.
A look at the elite field for the California International Marathon, with ages and personal bests:
Elisha Barno, 30, Kenya, 2:09:45; Jacob Chemtai, 28, Kenya, 2:11:56; Kibrom Ghebrezghebher, 28, Eriteria, 2:09:36; Tesfaye Alemayehu, 31, Ethiopia,2:11:18; Azeria Teklay, 30, Eriteria, 2:15:49; Macdonard Ondara, 30, Kenya, 2:14:10; Daniel Gonia, 27, USA, Debut; Craig Hopkins, 27, Great Britain,2:16:50; Harbert Okuti, 30, Uganda, 2:17:30; Sage Canaday, 30, USA, 2:16:52, Matthew Dewald, 33, USA, 2:17:43; Jonathan Mott, 28, USA, 2:18:12; Tim Tollefson, 30, USA, 2:18:26; Brandon Mull, 30, USA, 2:18:14; Kiplingat Tisia, 27, Kenya, 2:15:59; Ruben Sanca, 28, Cape Verde, 2:18:47; Matt Hensley, 28, USA, 2:19:51, Gregory Leak, 27, USA, Debut; Clint Verran, 40, USA, 2:14:12; Josh Ordway, 35, USA, 2:15:39; Charles Hillig, 29, USA, 2:19:22; Jake Marotz, 27, USA, 2:20:16; Matthew Blume, 34, USA, 2:20:28; David Le Porho, 38, Canada, 2:20:23; Josh Whitehead, 37, USA, 2:25:36; Travis Morrison, 23, USA, Debut; Jose Madera, 24, USA, Debut; Meshack Kirwa, 41, Kenya, 2:11:45; Paolo Natali, 35, Italy, 2:19:53.
Sarah Kiptoo, 26, Kenya, 2:26:32; Serkalem Abrha, 28, Ethiopia, 2:31:39; Jane Kibii, 30, Kenya, 2:31:44; Gisela Olalde, 31, Mexico, 2:35:43; Joasia Zakrzewski, 39, Great Britain, 2:39:15; Jenna Boren, 38, USA, 2:40:38; Nicole Feest, 32, USA, 2:41:09; Lindsay Tollefson, 30, USA, 2:41:31; Jeanna Composti, 34, USA, 2:42:34; Lisa Baumert, 28, USA, 2:41:17; Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 30, USA, Debut; Nora Colligan, 33, USA, 2:49:26; Samantha Bluske, 24, USA, Debut; Kelsey Beckmann, 24, USA, 3:03:57; Loretta Loaiza, 32, USA, 2:36:41; Jackie Pirtle-Hall, 33, USA, 2:42:03; Michelle Meyer, 28, USA,2:43:09; Anita Perez, 32, USA, 2:43:39; Liza Reichert, 28, USA, 2:59:28; Raquel Stucky, 40, USA, 2:42:08; Kristen Carter Schafer, 28, USA, 2:43:01; Shaluinn Fullove, 38, USA, 2:43:33.