Let The CIM Celebration Continue

By Mario Fraioli |
Me and some of my squad. Photo: Jody Bailey | Run Photographs

Despite the fact that it took place over two weeks ago now, I’m still reeling over what went down at the Cal International Marathon. Why? It was, as Martin Fritz Huber aptly put it in his recap for Outside, “a mass celebration for the competitive amateur—the ‘regional class’ athlete who might eviscerate the competition at her local Turkey Trot, but wouldn’t allow herself to dream about actually making an Olympic team.” And while the unsponsored Emma Bates, who dazzled in her debut marathon and put herself on a short-list of sub-2:30 women, and previously unknown men’s winner Brogan Austin, who works full-time as an IT project manager and doesn’t see why he shouldn’t see himself as a contender Atlanta, are a step or two above “regional” status, they represent the class of competitive amateurs that helped make the event so special. That’s not to take anything away from the handful of full-time pros who gave it a go, or diss on the ones raced elsewhere this fall, but rather to celebrate a level of depth that hasn’t been seen in decades and re-affirm the improving health of competitive marathoning in the United States right now—which, I think, is best measured from the bottom up than from the top down.

+ I got a little shoutout in Huber’s article (and on the live broadcast, apparently), which was a good little surprise.

Here’s To The Blue-Collar Runner: As if you needed another reason to be a fan of Noah Droddy (morning shakeout podcast guest #23, by the way), read the aforelinked blog post he wrote “to the blue-collar runner,” specifically his girlfriend Emma Kertesz, ahead of this year’s CIM. “So here’s to the blue-collar runner, but specifically to my blue-collar runner,” Droddy writes. “Emma, you inspire me daily. I strive to emulate your toughness. You have taught me to find joy in my work when at first glance I can’t see it. You have taught me to appreciate what I have. Your buildup has made me a better athlete, a better person.” (Spoiler: Emma ran 2:44:22, qualifying for her second Olympic Trials Marathon.)

+ Check out Jody Bailey’s inspiring photo essay for Tempo Journal, “2 Hours and 45 Minutes,” which dropped yesterday. It highlights a few of the well over 100 women who were chasing the Olympic Trials “B” standard of 2:45 at CIM, including one of my athletes, Carly Gill, who was featured prominently in the piece. It paints a beautiful picture of the rising tide of female marathoners that lifted one another on the way to Sacramento.

+ Another of my athletes, Amy Leedham, got swept up in that rising tide and had a huge breakthrough at CIM, knocking 17 minutes off her previous personal best to finish in 2:48:31—including 10K and half-marathon PBs en route—which came as a bit of a surprise to both of us. How’d that happen? She ditched the watch and just raced.

+ “I could very well run 2:28 and I’ll be like 135th place.” That’s what I told Des Linden toward the end of this week’s episode of the podcast, which we recorded just a few days before CIM. Well, it was fun to look back and see that I wasn’t far off in my prediction: I was 129th in 2:27:33, 2:27:54 got you 135th place, and 2:28:01 was good enough for 138th overall.

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