Kevin Liao, CIM
On a sunny and crisp winter morning in California’s state capital, Emma Bates and Brogan Austin both claimed 2018 USA Marathon Championship titles at the 36th annual California International Marathon.
Pending confirmation of official results, a staggering 99 women and 54 men ran at or under U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials standards (2:19:00 for men, 2:45:00 for women). Both figures appear to be records for most runners under Trials standards at a single marathon, upholding CIM’s standing as the nation’s deepest marathon.
In her first-ever marathon, Bates, of Boise, Idaho, led the women’s race wire-to-wire to finish in 2:28:18. The mark is the eighth-fastest an American woman has run in their debut marathon.
“I said I wanted to win, but for it to actually become a reality is something I’m really proud of,” Bates said. “I went out a little too aggressive. At the end of the day, I’m happy with how I ran. I ran tough. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
In partnership with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation, Bates ran the race in a jersey with the words “Run for Camp Fire Relief” to raise awareness for fundraising efforts that support families affected by the recent Northern California wildfires.
“I hope I did them proud and put the word out to get people involved and donate,” Bates said.
Stephanie Bruce, of Flagstaff, Ariz., finished second in the women’s race in a time of 2:29:20, a new personal best by 15 seconds.
Samantha Roecker, of Ballston Lake, NY, was third in 2:30:25, a personal best by nearly eight minutes. Michele Lee, of Sun Prairie, Wis., was fourth in 2:30:31, and Bridget Lyons, of Fairburn, Georgia, was fifth in 2:31:00.
Austin, of Des Moines, Iowa, made a late charge to overtake Matt Llano with just over a quarter-mile left in the race to win in a time of 2:12:38.
“I was so surprised I could do that,” Austin said.
Austin’s only previous marathon was a 2:24:39 clocking that earned him a 38th place finish at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Austin credited his coach, Tom Schwartz, who heads the Tinman Elite training group, for much of his recent success. Under Schwartz’s tutelage, Austin has dropped his half marathon best from 64:09 to 62:39.
“He’s turned my life around, and he’s turned my training around,” Austin said. “I knew this potential was here, and he’s finally untapped it.”
Llano had lead the entire race up to that point late in the race, clicking off mile after mile at or around 5:00 in the early stages of the race. He ultimately finished in second place with a time of 2:12:59, the second-best mark of his career.
Former professional triathlete Josh Izewski, of Blowing Rock, N.C., was third in his marathon debut in a time of 2:13:15, with his Zap Fitness training group teammate and fellow debutant Joe Stilin, also of Blowing Rock, N.C., fourth in 2:13:20.
Former Davis High School star and current Davis resident Brendan Gregg finished fifth in 2:13:27, a personal best over five minutes.
Both race winners Bates and Austin took home $20,000 in prize money plus performance bonuses. Bates also clinched the 2018 USA Running circuit title, which earned her another $20,000 in prize money.
Bob Spisak, of Aptos, Calif., won the men’s push rim wheelchair race in a time of 2:17:57, while Mary Kate Callahan, of La Grange, Ill., was the women’s push rim wheelchair winner in 2:34:46.
The Golden Valley Harriers relay team recorded the fastest time in the CIM Relay Challenge, finishing in 2:24:45.
Find full CIM results here.
The California International Marathon is organized by the Sacramento Running Association, a nonprofit 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.