I ran my 2nd Wharf to Wharf last weekend. Wharf to Wharf is a huge deal in Santa Cruz. It’s a 6 mile race (.2 mile short of a 10k) dating back to 1973. There are 15,000 registered runners and thousands of others who run, walk, and join in the fun. It’s immensely popular, selling out in a week this year. Last year I ran it just to run it, to be a part of something so Santa Cruz. This year I trained and hoped to make it into the top 100 (I didn’t, but that’s ok).
One of the coolest parts about this year’s race was that Kevin ran as well. He had a crazy work schedule and wasn’t able to really train until just a few weeks before the race but he really worked hard and added up the miles quickly. I love getting to run with him so I really enjoyed joining him on his training runs. We didn’t run the race together as I had aimed for a faster finishing time, but his good friend ran the race with him and we met up at the end.
I ran the race with a Santa Cruz Endurance member Laura. Laura had been training with me at all of the track workouts and we have a pretty similar pace. She is an excellent training partner as she consistently pushes me when I’m losing steam on the track. I look forward to training together more.
Race morning our buddy Pat picked up Kevin and me. We swung by Capitola to pick up another SCE runner and a new good friend, Shoshanah. We headed to the start line and found Santa Cruz to be a giant traffic jam. Pat navigated some side streets and dropped us off right by the start. Kevin did some stretches while Sho and I did a 2 mile warm up run. I left Sho behind, found Kevin and headed to the start. We soon parted ways as I needed to be at the start of the general runners since I didn’t have an elite bib. I quickly found Laura and as soon as they opened the gate, I joined her about 30 seconds behind the start line.
It was a crazy start. No countdown, just a sudden gun shot signaling the start. Laura and I ran together the whole race, keeping a pretty steady 7:29 pace with the exception of our first mile that was a bit too speedy. We took the hills conservatively, slowing down on the uphills and letting gravity push us on the downhills. She kept up the motivation on the pace and because I knew the course well (its my normal running course), I kept her informed of hills, straight aways, and when we neared the finish. We crossed the finish line at 44:57 by my watch and 45 something by the gun clock. (The results say 45:10 but I don’t remember that being what I saw, more on that in a moment). I improved my time by 8 minutes from the previous year. I felt great and know that I will be able to run faster next year. We met up with all the speedy SCE runners (and a couple from SCTC too!), many who did make it into the top 100 (speedsters!).
There was a some issues with the results. Despite the fact that I ran with Laura start to finish, for several days we had different finishing times (and at one point my chip time was slower than my gun time!). It took race organizers and the timing company three days to get the results corrected, including giving a finishing time to a friend who unfortunately could not finish and disqualifying another runner who did (this was finally corrected). Part of the problem has to do with the technology used, however, much of it is also due to the fact that many walkers start the race early and end up finishing with fast runners, even though it actually took them much longer. There was also several instances of men wearing women’s bibs, skewing the women’s results. I don’t need to go into but there are several solutions/actions that could be taken to prevent this in future. But just to demonstrate the massive changes, when results were first posted I was listed as the 228th female finisher but after the corrections, I jumped to 169th place.
Despite this, I still enjoy Wharf to Wharf. Pat met us at the finish line and Elise rode her bike along the course and got several great photos of the runners. A group of us enjoyed brunch and mimosas after the race (a favorite post race splurge!). I am hoping to make it into the top 100 next year so I guess I’ll be back!