Each year, on the fourth Sunday in July, thousands of runners from across America and around the globe return to Santa Cruz, California for the annual six-mile race to Capitola-by-the-Sea. First run in 1973 by a handful of locals, the Wharf to Wharf Race today enjoys a gourmet reputation in running circles worldwide. Its scenic, seaside setting, perfect weather, and festive beach party atmosphere make it a favorite of casual joggers and elite athletes alike. Limited to 16,000 runners on a first-come-first-served basis, its field sells out months in advance. Runners are thrilled just to get in!

While many come for sun, fun and fitness reasons, serious athletes run to test their mettle against the best. The race draws an elite, international field. Runners know that a good showing at Wharf to Wharf is a guaranteed boost to their running career. The roll of past champions includes a numbers of former Olympians.

Widely acclaimed “The best little road race in California”, Wharf to Wharf is the biggest summer event of its kind on the West Coast and a boon to local business, annually infusing more than 8 million dollars into the Santa Cruz County economy. It receives broad print and electronic media attention, is highlighted in all running industry publications as one of the top races in America each year.

The Race is produced and administered by Wharf to Wharf Race Inc., a California nonprofit corporation chartered to promote running as a means to health and fitness. In service of this mission, the Race has, since its inception, contributed more than 5 million dollars to Santa Cruz County youth sports programs in general and the running community in particular.


The first Wharf to Wharf Race was run Saturday morning July 28, 1973. It was not the main event of the day, just one of a number of festivities scheduled by the City of Capitola’s Heritage Days Committee organized by Jim Reding and Wayne Fontes to celebrate the dedication of Camp Capitola’s Superintendent’s Office, as a California State Historical Landmark. Wayne Fontes chaired the Race Committee and Soquel High School track coach, Ken Thomas, served as Race Director. The $200 race budget was underwritten by the City of Capitola.

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 “WARF TO WARF” 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 Roadrace 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!

As the race matured over the years, so did its business profile.  It was incorporated as a California nonprofit in 1980 to promote running as a means to health and fitness among the youth of Santa Cruz County.  Planning for the race runs year-round.  Its Board of Directors meets monthly to review policy, procedures and oversee the distribution of race proceeds to a wide array of programs and special projects.  Race leadership and money spearheaded the development and maintenance of a world-class all-weather tracks at Soquel, Aptos, Watsonville, San Lorenzo Valley and Santa Cruz High Schools and mini-tracks at New Brighton Middle School, Valencia and Mission Hill Elementary Schools.   Scholarships of $36,000 are annually awarded to top student athletes.  Race funds and equipment support the Santa Cruz Track Club, International Games, Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League and a wide variety of local high school sports programs.  Race donations to the local community in 2016, alone, totaled more than $240,000.  Total donations over the years exceed five million dollars.

Speaking of money, an often overlooked but significant collateral benefit of the Race is its substantial financial impact on the local economy. It is well documented that the fourth weekend in July is the biggest of the year for Santa Cruz County’s hotel/restaurant trade.  Data compiled by The Santa Cruz Conference and Visitors Bureau estimates that the 20,000 annual visitors generated by the event spend more than nine million dollars locally.

Today, the Wharf to Wharf Race is more than just a footrace.  It has become a part of the local cultural fabric, touching the lives of thousands over its forty-five-year history.  Many have felt compelled to run it once as a rite of passage.  Others run it year after year to celebrate their vitality or… just because it’s fun.  Thousands are involved as volunteers, sponsors, and beneficiaries.  It is truly a community event of, by and for runners. The fourth Sunday in July is a special date on the Santa Cruz calendar.  All this from a $200 beginning back in 1973!

Race Team

Board of Directors

Dave Murphy, Vice President


Vice President 2015-Present.  Troubleshooter at Finish Line.  Member of the Board 2013.

Dan Gruber

(Teacher/Coach, Aptos High School)

Wharf to Wharf Champion 1982. Technical Advisor since 1988.  Member of the Board since 1993. Elite Athlete Liaison on Race Day.

Mark McConnell

(Teacher/Track Coach Soquel High School)

Wharf to Wharf Champion 1974. Member of the Board since 1974. Race Director 1980-1983. Race Coordinator since 1984.

Carolyn McKennan

(Superintendent, Morgan Hill Unified School District, Retired)

Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District, Retired)Advisor/Volunteer since 1992. Member of the Board since 1995.  Clerk of the Course.

Kim White

(Pre-Nursing Student)

Advisor since 2009.  Member of the Board 2012.  Race Day Headquarters.

Brendan Kelly


Entertainment Coordinator.  Advisor since 2011.  Member of the Board 2016.

Robb Mayeda, Secretary

(Retired Educator)

Transportation Coordinator.  Advisor since 2012.  Member of the Board 2016.

Directors Emeritus

Gary McConnell

Nita Messersmith Lundin

Richard Patterson

Wally Walker, Secretary

(Chief Deputy Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office , retired)

Runner/volunteer since 1981, Member of the Board and Secretary since 2002

Race Director Emeritus

Kirby Nicol

(Realtor, City of Capitola Councilman/Mayor)

Finish Line Coordinator 1973.  Member of the Board 1974-1983.  Race Director 1984-1986 / 1988-2012.

Advisory Committee

Mark Dorfman

Rudy Escalante

Tom Honig

Stephen Hoversten

Mary Maleta-Wright

Ward Pitman

Race Director

Scott McConville

Wharf to Wharf Scholarship winner 2001.  Elite Athlete Coordinator 2009-2012.

Assistant Race Director 2012.  Race Director 2013 to present.



2018 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women

2018 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men



2017 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women

2017 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men

Any timing questions can be answered by emailing david@sai-timing.com


2016 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women 

2016 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men



2015 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women

2015 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men 



2014 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women

2014 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men


2013 WHARF TO WHARF RACE RESULTS (use drop down menu to cycle to 2013 results)

2013 OFFICIAL Top 100 Women 

2013 OFFICIAL Top 100 Men

*Have a timing question or concern? Please contact our timing company… david@simmcodatasystems.com*


2012 Wharf to Wharf Race Results

2011 Wharf to Wharf Race Results



Click here to view all records


  • Why is the field limited to 16,000 runners?

    Why is the field limited to 16,000 runners?

    Over the years, race organizers and local officials have found that limiting bib sales to 16,000 results in a field that will not jam the finish line and insures that everyone has a safe, successful experience.

  • Can my registration be refunded?

    Can my registration be refunded?

    No, the entry fee is non-refundable.

  • Can I give my bib number to a friend or family member?

    Can I give my bib number to a friend or family member?

    We allow bib numbers to be transferred via our Online Bib Transfer System up until July 14th.  Any bib number that exchanges hands without going through our official transfer system, will be subject to disqualification.

  • Do you have a bib number waiting list?

    Do you have a bib number waiting list?

    No, sorry.

  • How and where do I pick up my bib number?

    How and where do I pick up my bib number?

    We do not have a packet pickup.  All bib # packets will be mailed to the address you filled out in your registration at the end of June.  If you do not receive your bib # by July 10th, please email info@wharftowharf.com.

  • How do I know if I'm registered?

    How do I know if I’m registered?

    Once your registration has been processed, you will receive a registration confirmation email. 

  • Is the race always on the last Sunday of July?

    Is the race always run on the last Sunday of July?

    No …..and no. The race was first run in 1973, on the 4th Saturday of July which happened to be the last Saturday of July. Since then…..it is always run on the 4th Sunday in July.

  • Has it always been a 10K?

    Has it always been a 10K?

    No…..and no. The first race was 5.8 miles, because that’s how far the Santa Cruz Wharf and Capitola Wharves are apart running the most direct route. In the years since, for reasons of growth, scenic considerations, road and bridge construction projects, the route has changed several times resulting in distances up to 10k. Since 1997 it’s been about 6 miles.

  • How long does it take to run WTW?

    How long does it take to run WTW?

    In 1992 Kenya’s Lameck Aguta ran it in 26:42.  Caroline Rotich, also from Kenya, holds the women’s record finishing in 30:18 in 2002.

  • What's the purpose of the race?

    What’s the purpose of the race?

    Wharf to Wharf’s charter mission is to enhance the health and fitness of the youth of Santa Cruz County through running. Over the years it has generated nearly $5,000,000 to that end. It also has an annual impact of more than $9,000,000 on the local economy.

  • How many people have run Wharf to Wharf?

    How many people have run Wharf to Wharf?


  • How many volunteers does it take to stage the event?

    How many volunteers does it take to stage the event?


  • Are strollers allowed? Can I run with my dog?

    Are strollers allowed?  Can I run with my dog??

    No.  For safety reasons, dogs, other pets and anything with wheels, including, but not limited to: bikes, wagons, rollerblades, skateboards, baby strollers, joggers, wheelbarrows are not allowed.  

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