A speedy race that highlights women in their own finish, California International is a great December marathon.

Follow the footsteps of gold miners to the capitol in Sacramento, where women celebrate at their own finish.


Thirty years old, the California International Marathon (runcim.org) on Dec. 8 is a great place for speedy runners to test out their wheels. Race Director Michelle La Sala says, “The usually perfect weather and the fast course is a great combination.” The marathon features more than 20 musicians and crosses the American River—site of 1849 gold rush panning. Runners enjoy a 50-block countdown of numbered streets to the California State Capitol, where women are spotlighted with our own finish.


Walking distance from downtown hotels is Lucca (luccarestaurant.com), where the owner is a runner (look for Team Lucca jerseys during the race) and you can carbo-load with delectable risottos. Another runner-owned eatery, Waterboy (waterboyrestaurant.com), serves up a fantastic burger topped with grilled onions and local cheddar.


The race’s expo is perfect for holiday shopping. Stop by one of the major vendors, Fleet Feet, or visit its women-specific boutique (fleetfeetboutique.com) downtown. Old Sacramento (oldsacramento.com) is a fun expedition for antique shops and a stellar railroad museum.


The 32-mile American River Park-way (arpf.org) is an ideal waterside, car-free run in Sacramento. Many runners take advantage of the 1-mile loop around the state capitol for a picturesque and easy-to-measure shake-out run. To make some fast friends, link up with the Buffalo Chips (buffalochips.com), the oldest running club in the city.


By staying at the host hotel, Sheraton Grand Sacramento (sheratonsacramento.com), you’ll be next to the expo and in the heart of a party zone after the race. But if you prefer the road less traveled, consider the Lake Natoma Inn (lakenatomainn.com) in Folsom, where you can do your pre-race run around the lake and take the light rail back to bed.