Runners Compete in 35th California International Marathon

SACRAMENTO -- Sunday marked the 35th California International Marathon. Thousands of runners came from all over the country to partake, bringing big money to the region.

It may seem like just another finish-line crossing, but for Denis Zilaff, this was the 35th California International Marathon he's run -- never missing one since it began.

"This was the hardest marathon I've ever done in my life," Zilaff said.

The years have been tough on Zilaff, problems with his hips made it difficult to train before this year's run.

"It gets harder as you get older," he said.

"It was the most incredible and most exhausting thing I've ever done in my entire life," said runner Lillian Park.

Park came all the way from Brooklyn to run the CIM, and she's now qualified for the Boston Marathon.

"I'm going to Boston!" Park said.

"And I did it! I can't believe I did it," she added.

She says the bells, the marching band and the spectators made all the difference.

"The crowd was amazing, they were so supportive," Park said.

The Sacramento Running Association says this year's CIM had one of the largest turnouts, with more than 18,000 runners. And with them, they brought a huge economic boom.

"It brings over $10 million of economic impact, filling over 7,500 hotel rooms. It raised over $500,000 for charity," said Scott Abbott, executive director of the Sacramento Running Association.

Zilaff is now one of just 12 people who have run every CIM.

"Pretty good little group. And so it's kinda fun, we support each other," Zilaff said.

He says right now is his favorite part of the year.

"Yeah, I don't have to do it for another year now!" he said.

The CIM also serves as an Olympic qualifying event.