Former shul president Steve Polansky is ready to run his 36th California International Marathon this weekend

Steve Polansky never looks back — except, of course, when he is at the starting line of the California International Marathon, which begins on an uphill slope. “I like to line up and look back at the field,” says the 72-year-old resident of suburban Sacramento. “I can see thousands of runners behind me. It’s awe inspiring and takes my breath away.” The CIM, an annual race from Folsom to Sacramento, is one marathon that Polansky knows very well, having run it for 35 straight years. In fact, the past president of Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento is one of only 12 runners who have participated in every CIM since it began in 1983. “I signed up and loved the course so much that I contacted [the Sacramento Running Association],” recalls Polansky, a New York native and a retired obstetrician-gynecologist. In turn, he immediately was asked by the association, “Can you be a member of the board?” It was a response that definitely hit home for the regular synagogue-goer. “How often in Jewish life do you become president of [a committee or a project] just because you showed an interest?” he says. This year’s California International Marathon is scheduled to start promptly at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, with the fastest runners finishing the 26.2-mile course about 135 minutes later — or about seven hours before the first night of Hanukkah begins. When the CIM premiered 36 years ago, 1,600 runners participated (and Polansky finished in 3 hours, 16 minutes). The course from Folsom Dam to the state Capitol has remained unchanged since 1983, and this year, with some 13,000 people signed up, the CIM has become the 10th largest marathon in the country, Polansky says. Its top finishers qualify for the Boston Marathon and the U.S. Olympic trials.

posted Tuesday November 27th