The California International Marathon is a special race. Considered one of the best places to run a smokin’ time, it declares itself, “The Fastest Course in the West.” Many fail to appreciate it for it’s entirety, blinded by “net downhill.” In truth, or in experience, it undulates in a wonderfully soft way until the final 10k where it’s mostly flat as you count down block after block in downtown Sacramento, waiting for that left turn, left turn and the Capitol. It’s been host to the US Marathon Champs for the last couple years. This year it will not, but the field is loaded with athletes on the brink of something incredible – a chance at an Olympic Trials Qualifier. As one of the last few marathons to earn an OTQ (the deadline of which is January 19, 2020), there are only a few others where one can qualify (in either the marathon or half) –
- 1/19/20 Chevron Houston Marathon & Half (sold out)
- 1/19/20 RNR AZ Marathon & Half
- 1/19/20 Louisiana Marathon & Half
The California International Marathon (CIM), in particular, produces dozens of qualifiers every year…In 2018 at CIM, 99 women hit the standard. That number includes Hayley Sutter, who collapsed a few feet from the finish line and crawled across in a gun time of exactly 2:45:00.– Olympic Trials Marathon Field by Sarah Lorge Butler, Runner’s World
Bellingham Distance Project is proud to send six athletes to CIM this year, four of which will be seeking the coveted 2:45 or under women’s Olympic Trials Qualifier (What does this mean exactly? Check below for more details). These four include Allison Dorr, Amber Morrison, Kennedy Rufener and Kristen Schafer. Two of our male athletes, Jonathan Quimby and Nick Eiben will also compete. To track these athletes and others you can download the app RTRT.me which has tracking for CIM, an interactive map and Leader info. Here’s a little blurb-bio on each of our athletes that will be competing –
Born and raised in Birch Run, MI and a graduate of Saginaw State, Allison earned Academic All-State, NBC 25 Academic All-Star, First-Team All-GLIAC Honors, All-Regional Honors and All-American Honors at SVSU. After graduating this past spring and moving to Bellingham, WA, Allison has transitioned to the marathon, increasing her volume under the guidance of her coach. CIM will be her debut marathon, where she seeks 2:45 or under.
A veteran of BDP, this will be Amber’s 11th marathon and second time racing CIM. At CIM ’18 Amber ran a personal best of 2:45:45, narrowly missing the OTQ. After a smart call to drop the Snohomish River Run Marathon this past October, Amber set her focus on CIM. She PR’d in the 1/2 marathon this fall, and has been balancing a demanding schedule as a PA – Hospitalist, VP of BDP, bulb & tuber entrepreneur and mom to two pups. She seeks to shave 45s minimum off her PB at CIM.
Born and raised in Clackamas, OR, Kennedy graduated with honors from WOU where she competed in XC and T&F, setting 5 school records, was a 2x All-American, was All-Region and qualified for the Nat’l Championships as an individual. After WOU she went on to Western Colorado University, where she’d further earn All-American at the NCAA Nat’l Champs as part of the 3rd Place Women’s Team. Kennedy moved to Bellingham to take the position of Assistant XC & T&F Coach at Western Washington University. She balances coaching and work at a local running store with training. Kennedy is coached by Mike Johnson and CIM will be her debut marathon. She is seeking 2:45 or under.
This 2x Olympic Trials Qualifier (2012 & 2016) with a PB of 2:43:01 – Kristen – knows what it takes to get it done. Looking to earn her 3rd OTQ, this will be Kristen’s 3rd time racing CIM (the last time of which was ’15, where she ran 2:43:42). Balancing her training on top of a career at Faithlife Corp. where she is a Senior Marketing Manager, Kristen has fought against some injuries which have sidelined her in the past; we are grateful that she’s had a full year of health and growth and will toe the line as strong as ever, looking to earn that 3rd OTQ!
A graduate of WWU, this stud won his debut marathon at the Bellingham Bay Marathon in 2017! Jonathan has focused his training on getting a better handle at the marathon distance, increasing his volume and applying the lessons he took away from BBM. After a shiny new PB in the 1/2 marathon earned this fall, we’re excited to see how much he can shave off!
Born and raised in Plymouth, MI and a graduate of Saginaw State, Nick enjoys big miles. In his last marathon – Grandma’s Marathon – this past spring, Nick brought his PB down to 2:41:25. After some downtime in the fall, Nick is grateful to toe the line at CIM healthy, but looks ahead to consistency /growth in mileage and some ultra distance races. CIM will be a perfect foothold.
What Are the OTQualifying Standards Exactly?
The qualifying window for the marathon was opened on September 1, 2017 and will remain so until January 19, 2020. The qualifying window for the half marathon is a year shorter, opening on September 1, 2018 with the same cut-off date.
There are (2) standards – an “A” and a “B.” The “A” standard for men = 2:15 or under in the marathon (5:08’s per mile). The “B” standard for men = 2:19 or under in the marathon (5:18’s) and/or 1:04 in the half marathon (4:52’s). The “A” standard for women = 2:37 or under in the marathon (5:59’s). The “B” standard for women = 2:45 or under in the marathon (6:17’s) and/or 1:13 in the half marathon (5:34’s). Additional opportunities to qualify include: Overall Champions of the 2018 and 2019 USATF Running Circuit would be considered as having met the “A” standard. The top (6) finishers at the 2019 USATF Marathon Champs (previously CIM) will be considered as having met the “A” standard. Earned an individual medal n the 2017 or 2019 IAAF World Champs Marathon. And lastly, all members of the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Team. However, it is safe to say that these additional opps aren’t that important in the grand scheme, as the athletes who would have earned entry through such, have already qualified by running badass times in the last (2) years anyway.
There are (2) standards, because traditionally, those who achieved the “A” were given more support at the Olympic Trials, by way of travel stipend, lodging and/or bottle support on the Olympic Trials course. In the past, “B” standard achievers paid their own way, and were not offered course support. In 2020 however, due to the incredibly generous Atlanta Track Club, who will host the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta on February 29, 2020, all athletes, no matter “A” or “B” status will be granted the same benefits – stipend, lodging and/or course support.
All qualifying marks must be made on USATF certified courses, in an event sanctioned by USATF or a member federation of IAAF. It must be USATF/IAAF/AIMS certified. It cannot have an elevation loss greater than 3.25 meters/km. And, lastly, all times must be off the gun. Chip/net times cannot be used. That is why it is very important that athletes seeking the OTQ start as near to the front as possible. For a full rundown of the 2020 standards, check out USATF’s Qualifying Standards.
We are excited to track our athletes and a bevy of others this Sunday, December 8th! We wish them safe travels, good health, calm spirits, and the maturity and wisdom to hold back or push when each is called for. The mantra, as instigated by one of our teammates, Derek Thornton, inspired by the book about to come out (It Takes What It Takes by Trevor Moawad), is what we’ll chant anxiously as we follow along –
It takes what it takes and you’ve got what it takes!”