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Wharf to Wharf Race

  • Date: 07/28/2019 8:00 AM - 8:30 AM  
  • Location: Race begins at Beach Street
    Santa Cruz, California 95060

What is the Wharf to Wharf Race? How did it begin?

The race was a pretty casual affair starting at the Santa Cruz Wharf and winding its way through coastal neighborhoods to Capitola Village, some six miles to the south. It did not run without incident.  As the race leaders approached the Village, they were inadvertently misdirected out onto Capitola Wharf, rather than to the Capitola Esplanade where the finish line was actually located.   After some discussion, race officials declared Stanford’s Jack Bellah the winner and duly awarded him a classic plaque proclaiming him Champion of the “WHARF TO WHARF” Race!  These misadventures notwithstanding, the race was considered a grand success by the 273 participants that ran.  When they clamored for a rerun the following year, the organizing committee obliged and the race began a life of its own.  Through the seventies the race grew dramatically, riding the wave  of the running boom that swept the nation.  Its numbers doubled each year into the eighties before peaking at around 3,700 runners in 1983.  It was at that point that its leadership elected to take a more proactive role in its promotion and administration. 

In the fall of that year race representatives were dispatched to the First Annual Road Race Management Convention in Washington DC to see what they could learn about the business of running. The knowledge they brought back led to many changes in the face and future of the race, not the least of which was the introduction of a commercial sponsorship program, which facilitated the addition of attractive new features and expanded the financial horizons of the event.  More than 6,000 runners answered the starter’s call in 1984.  The race was rolling again!

And the growth continued through 1987, when a throng of 14,000 showed up, jamming village streets and race venues to the point that organizers feared for the future of the event, recognizing that it was in danger of smothering in the gridlock of its own popularity.  In the years since, participation has been carefully capped to preserve the integrity of the race and insure the safety of its runners.  This restriction has placed a premium on participation.  The race field typically sells out months in advance, earning it a gourmet reputation among elite athletes and casual joggers around the world as the place to be on the fourth Sunday in July… if you can get in!

Please visit to register!

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