The 47th annual Wharf to Wharf was a huge success, once again, as thousands of competitors took part in the six-mile run between the Santa Cruz and Capitola wharves early Sunday morning.
The starting pistol went off at 8:30 a.m. on the dot, which signaled for 16,000 runners to take off through the streets of Santa Cruz and into Capitola Village.
As usual, the race featured live entertainment with dozens of bands, singers, dancers, drummers and other classic Santa Cruz acts, providing a festive atmosphere for both runners and spectators.
According to the organization’s website, the Wharf to Wharf Roadshow is one of the major highlights that makes the event the “best little road race in California.”
But apart from the festivities and the race itself, Wharf to Wharf Race, Inc. gives back more than $250k per year to local schools and running programs.
More than $6 million has been donated during the 47-year history of the Wharf to Wharf Race.
Here’s what else was going on during Sunday’s grand fiesta.
Each year, 100 lucky finalists with a golden racing bib throw their names into a raffle for a chance at a once in a lifetime trip.
Matthew Reeves of San Jose had his bib number randomly drawn from a pouch and won a trip for two to the Wharf to Wharf Race in New Zealand.
Reeves, 30, said he plans to take his girlfriend, who couldn’t compete in Sunday’s race because she wasn’t feeling well.
“I think she’ll jump at the chance,” Reeves said.
It’s the fourth time Reeves has participated in the race but it’s the first time he’s received a golden bib.
If a ticket had a gold background with a black bib number, the runners were one of the lucky finalists.
Plus, it was almost as if Reeves was meant to win the raffle, especially after the first winner called wasn’t present to claim the prize, which is one of the rules.
“I was just getting really, really nervous,” said Reeves about the emcee calling out the second set of numbers. “I had a really good feeling for just the fact that I even got the golden ticket. I was hoping that even fewer people showed up than the hundred (finalist) so that I had better chances.”
San Juan Elementary student Aidan Castañeda, left, and his dad, Alfred, participated in Sunday's Wharf to Wharf Race to help raise awareness of Mission Milers, which is a fundraiser Aidan started in hopes of getting a new track built on his campus. (Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
San Juan Elementary student Aidan Castañeda had a couple of big goals going into Sunday’s race.
First, Aidan wanted to finish the race in under 45 minutes and easily did it with a mark of 43-minutes, 28-seconds.
Aidan also made a bet with his dad’s friend that he would finish ahead of him, which he also did.
“I’m feeling excited,” said Aidan prior to the start of the race.
But the 11-year old’s biggest goal is still in the works. Aidan participated in the race to help raise awareness of Mission Milers, which is a fundraiser he started in hopes of getting a new track built on his campus.
Aidan said his hometown school in San Juan Bautista doesn’t have a real track for kids to practice.
“It’s important to me because I want a track at our school and I want to do cross country,” said Aidan, who plans to join his school’s sixth grade team.
According to the San Juan Home & School Club website, the goal is set for $150k, which will bring in an all-purpose eight-lane track.
The club has raised $12,300. Aidan said he already has about a dozen sponsors signed up and has raised $1,600, so far.
San Juan Elementary is celebrating 50 years and part of that is raising funds to get the school and the community of San Juan Bautista a legitimate running track.
The club wants to promote health and wellness, providing a safe environment to exercise and encouraging fitness and social interaction.
Aidan’s dad, Alfred, said it meant a lot to him when his son came to him with the idea of building a new track.
Castañeda, 42, said he started listening to the community about its concerns, especially kids practicing on the bike lanes alongside the San Juan highway.
“I think it’s important to have a track for not just the school but for the community so we can actually utilize that,” Castañeda said.
For information go to: https://www.mightycause.com/organization/Sanjuanschoolrunningtrack
A participant from Sunday's Wharf to Wharf Race takes a drink from a reusable aluminum water bottle designed by PATHWATER. The bottles were given away after the race.(Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)
The Wharf to Wharf organization is going for a green certification and race director Scott McConville said they’re shooting to be one of the first green events in Santa Cruz County.
The Wharf to Wharf organization is seeking certification by the Council for Responsible Sport, which sponsors different sports and running events.
“Striving towards a zero waste to landfill event goal is a noble and difficult endeavor, and Responsible Sport certification is a rigorous process, and on top of that, it’s voluntary, so that tells you something about the kind of event Wharf to Wharf is,” said Council for Responsible Sport managing director Shelley Villalobos in a press release.
One of the big changes was eliminating plastic bottles from the event and partnering with PATHWATER, a reusable aluminum water bottle designed to be reused beyond race day.
“By implementing reusable bottled water with PATHWATER, Wharf to Wharf will not only prevent plastic bottles from entering the waste stream on race day but beyond as runners keep and refill their bottles,” said Ali Orabi, co-founder and vice president of marketing of PATHWATER, in a press release.
The aluminum water bottles were given out after the race and athletes began using them immediately by filling them up at the water stations.
According to the PATHWATER website, the three main goals are to provide a sustainable option to reduce and reuse, educate others about the plastics crisis and change a stagnant, polluting industry of single-use plastics.
All the aid stations throughout the course were supplied with compostable cups.
“Every year we’re trying to make the race a little bit better,”said McConville in an earlier interview with the Pajaronian. “We’ve been working on this for a few years… Just being a big event in town, I feel like it’s our responsibility to always look at the race in all facets.”
Editor's Note: This article will be published in the August 2 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.