When a non-runner suggests a race for you, there must be something special about it to keep them interested. I’ve never heard about the Wharf to Wharf race until someone told me how much fun he had when running it….and he doesn’t even like to run. I looked into the race and after seeing it was along the Santa Cruz coast, 6 miles from the Beach Boardwalk to Capitola Beach, I signed up for the race and planned for a mini-runcation. I love running near the water, and since Santa Cruz is only about an hour or so away, there’s really no excuse to skip this race.
The registration process was quite intimidating as the site boasts that it sells out in minutes, so I made sure to set my calendar and alarm for the date and register right at the release time, a good 3+ months before race day. That method was a success and I snagged 2 race entries without a problem. On the same date, I looked up hotel rooms in Santa Cruz, and let me tell you, almost everything was booked up, and if it wasn’t, it was a good $300+ a night. I reserved one of the cheaper rooms I could find at a cheap motel and hoped that the $200+/night would be worth it for a good race.
Leading up to the race, I looked at the motel’s Trip Advisor and was super grossed out with the reviews. Luckily, I had free cancellations and cancelled it hours before the deadline, and 24 hours before I was supposed to be in Santa Cruz for pre-race festivities. Now, I had NO ROOM and was stressing off if we should just wake up extra early and drive up. But thankfully, there was no need for that because I checked my Hotel Tonight app and there was a last minute deal for a renovated room for less than $300….and the hotel had a hot tub! Score! I referred my race boo with my promo code so that we both could each get $25 off. Score even more. (Use code TCHENOWETH to get $25 off your first booking…you’ll thank me later!)
The great part about a mini-runcation is that you can get away without having to hop on a plane. After a little Saturday traffic, we ended up at the hotel, checked in, and headed straight to the beach. The closest one was Natural Bridges State Beach, and I was so excited to check out the natural rock formation! The beach itself was CRACKIN’, with so many families and friend set up for a fun day in the sun. The water was freezing, but I can’t go to the beach without touching the ocean.
As much as I wanted to go to the Boardwalk and ride the Giant Dipper, we opted out of that for a visit to another beach. Seabright Beach is right next to the Boardwalk, and it was actually part of the race course. This beach wasn’t as crowded, was dog-friendly, and had great views. It was cool to be able to see the lighthouse on one end and the silhouette of the roller coasters on the other end.
Before dinner, we took a dip in the hotel hot tub and then it was time to carb load. We hit up burger. down the street, a burger joint (obviously) that I’ve been to before. I stayed away from the burger with the grilled cheese buns that I’ve gorged on in the past, and instead got some sloppy joe sliders, a side of ‘Smac (their version of mac ‘n cheese), and some Slug fries, which are basically like Animal Style fries from In ‘N Out. Talk about hearty! I could only eat one slider and although it was good, the fries probably weren’t the smartest food to eat before a race.
I spent the rest of the night getting my stuff together for the race, which means a race fit grid! I made sure to wear my PDX Concrete Runners tank from last year’s Portland runcation in solidarity, since the CRew was out there for the Bowerman race at the same time. I also brought my Under Armour shorts that I received from Represent Running, and my LeSportSac fanny pack. I chose my race shoes carefully. I learned that the finish was on Capitola beach, the beach that had cute, colorful beachfront homes, and I wanted my shoes to match. I chose to rock my Adidas by Stella McCartnery Ultra Boost not only so I could match, but also so I could run comfortably. Seriously such a comfortable running shoe!
We turned in early because even though the race started at 8:30am (such a reasonable time for late birds like me), we still had to wake up early, take advantage of the continental breakfast (hello biscuits and gravy!), and make our way to the start. We were about 2 miles from the start, and had no urge to run or walk that, so I looked into an Uber. Damn, it was surged 4x! Guess it was time to drive. The pre-race communications were so helpful and thorough and described in detail about the free parking lots and the shuttles from there to the start. We drove there but the lot was full, but we managed to find some good street parking in the residential areas on the way to the start. Score!
We walked about half a mile to the Boardwalk and the first thing we needed to do was find safety pins. The cool thing about the Wharf to Wharf is that they mail you your race bib so you don’t have to worry about taking time off to pick up your race packet….but the only thing is they didn’t include safety pins. There was a clear sign before the race corrals with “Safety Pins” so we had no problem getting our race bib on. Now, the last thing to do was to walk to the corral and run the race!
The pre-race festivities were energizing. I learned that someone named Tom was running the 44th Wharf to Wharf in a row- meaning he has run every single race! Wow! I also ran into another Concrete Runner. You know you’re CRew is deep when you run into someone at a race, and what’s even better is that she was reppin’ by wearing a tank!
The race had a slow start as they had to let the elite go first, and what’s crazy is that they were probably finished with the whole race by the time I crossed the start line. Speed didn’t really matter to me as I just wanted to soak in the views, the music, and the fun during the 6 mile course. I already knew this race wouldn’t be a PR for me. We ran passed drum circles, bag pipe players, funk bands, and surf sounds….I didn’t even need to bump my Beats Pill because there was music at almost every bend. We ran past the cutest beach homes, some of which I dreamed of renting for the next race, and it was so fun to see so many people on the course hanging out in front of their homes to cheer us one. There were a number of water hoses, and even though it was overcast, I get hot when I run so I made sure to run through!
Before you knew it, the 6 miles were up and we ended up in the cutest town of Capitola. We crossed the line, had our photos taken, and walked down to the beach to pick up our finisher shirt and goodie bag. It was all highly organized with large visible signs and the lines were not even stressful. The goodie bag had water, Martinelli’s apple juice (my fave), some trail mix, and a few other goodies. But what I was really excited about was getting my photo taken by the cutest beach bungalows. The bungalows were painted such vibrant colors, and they totally went with my running shoes.
After that, we walked through the finisher’s square, picked up some fruit strip samples and chocolate milk, and walked over to the shuttle area. It kind of sucked we had to walk uphill to get there, but hey, I can’t complain about the FREE shuttles back to the start. That was such a lifesaver. The lines went by quickly, and the flow of foot traffic to get there was well labeled. It was kind of cool to ride a school bus again. Kudos for an organized post-race experience!
As soon as we got back to the hotel, it was time to hit the hot tub one more time, this time with some mimosas to celebrate. That’s my idea of recovery! Well that and posting all my glory on social media. I made sure to take some shoe shots so I could enter them in an Instagram contest….and after my pic was reposted on this cute Capitola art gallery IG page, I found out I won the FinishLine Adidas #ShoesSoFresh contest! This is the winning photo that won me 3 pairs of shoes, and a new backpack. Luck that my little girl wears the same size as me!