The 40th annual California International Marathon, held on a pristine day in Sacramento, delivered thrilling victories for CJ Albertson of Fresno and Kenyan runner Grace Kahura. Both runners overcame formidable competition to claim their wins on the historic course, known for being a Boston Marathon and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and celebrated as the fastest in the West.
Albertson's victory was marked by a dramatic comeback, clocking in at 2:11:09, tantalizingly close to the course record. He was closely followed by Milton Rotich from Duluth, Minnesota, and Charlie Sweeney of Boulder, Colorado, in a tightly contested race for the runner-up spots. Albertson, a standout from Arizona State University with an impressive track record, including a seventh-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a world record in the indoor marathon, had finished eighth in last year’s CIM and was a close second in 2019. His strategic move in the final miles of the race, overtaking Christian Allen of Orem, Utah, and Amanuel Mesel of Flagstaff, Arizona, showcased his endurance and tactical acumen.
On the women's side, Kahura triumphed with a personal best of 2:29, outstripping Allie Kieffer from Austin, Texas, and Ava Nuttall of Rochester, Minnesota. Her time improved upon her previous best from the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth and led a highly competitive field, with 43 runners surpassing the 2:37 Olympic trial qualifying pace at the halfway point. Kahura's victory was a moment of national pride, as she celebrated with the Kenyan flag at the finish line.
The CIM, unchanged in its 40-year history, lived up to its reputation as a premier marathon event. With more than 9,600 runners navigating the 26-mile downhill course from Folsom to downtown Sacramento, the race offered ideal conditions for high-level competition. The 2023 edition will be remembered for its fast-paced action, record-breaking performances, and the emergence of Albertson and Kahura as champions in a deep and talented field.