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If you are like me, then you have shown up to the start line of a race without even giving the slightest glance at the course profile. I’ve used the words “but I like to be surprised” or “where are we going today?” In all fairness those tend to be at events where I’m running for fun or don’t have a time goal.

With the California International Marathon taking place the first weekend in December, I thought it would be a great time to mention the importance of looking at a course profile, (even when you are not goal chasing). Let’s take a look at the CIM course profile as an example:

CIM course profile

Having run the race several times and heard many a runner say “it’s a downhill course, right?” I feel it’s a great example of how important it can be to look at a course profile in closer detail. As you can see from the above, the race does in fact start at a higher elevation and end at a lower elevation, giving it a downhill look.

But if you look closer, you can see that there are rises/falls going in a downward direction, which basically means there are some rolling hills. We’re not talking San Francisco hills, but there are gentle rollers throughout most of the first half of the course and it eases into a second half that is mostly flat (in comparison).


Flash back to 2013

Flash back to 2013


This course holds my current PR (3:37) and I also set a 5-minute PR the first time I ran it in 2009. CIM tends to be a Northern California favorite as an end-of-the-year marathon. People that have run it several times often say they prefer the rollers in the beginning as those work different muscles in the legs early on, which allows you to drive it home on the second half and puts you in position for a negative split (run the second half faster than the first).

This is a PR-able course, it’s pitched as a great Boston qualifier and it lives up to the hype. The course does drop with a starting elevation of 366’ and finishes at 26’ but I would not classify this as a downhill course, which can sometimes come to as a surprise to first-time runners of the course.

There is a course preview video as well for a more detailed look.

It’s always best to take a close look at a course profile (hopefully before or in the early stages of your training cycle). I always find it helpful to ask a runner that has run it previously. Find out if there are any “surprises” or suggestion on how to approach the course in race day. It’s always best to be prepared and have a much information/insight going into a race where you are looking to be successful.


At the Expo with Mazda

Mazda will be featured at the CIM all weekend log with a huge footprint at the expo as well as sponsoring the pace vehicle, providing photo opps, and branded shoe tags. There should be a lot of activity at their booth, swing by and grab a selfie with a car.

GIVEAWAYS: I will also be in/out the Mazda section throughout most of Saturday (look for the guy doing IG stories or SnapChat videos next to the cars) and I will have some free giveaway items. Keep an eye on @PavementRunner social channels for updates.

Shakeout Run with #WeRunSocial (and coffee?)

The WRS crew has been lucky enough to be asked to join in on the shakeout run led by Run SRA and the CIM team. Join us in what looks to be a great way to kick-start your Saturday.

When: Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:30am
Where: Sacramento Convention Center
RSVP: Facebook event here

Post-Run Coffee with WRS: Location TBD, but let’s keep the fun going with some warm beverages. We’ll likely mention something before the run starts, but it will be close to the run’s start/finish and expo.

Psssst. Did you see the socks inspired by CIM colors? Use code PRO16 for 40% off and order ASAP to receive them before race weekend. They ship from CA, so you might be able to ship them to your hotel.

Do you look at the course profile before race day?