On this part 4th Sunday in July I joined 16,000 other individuals of all ages, ethnicities, sizes, and talent level to participate in my very first Santa Cruz to Capitola, Wharf to Wharf. I’m embarrassed to say it was my first time participating in this widely popular and well-loved local event. 

Pre Race

My friend, Anna, and I were dropped off at the end of Buena Vista around 7:45am and joined the other masses of people walking over the train trestle down to the Boardwalk.  It wasn’t until we ended up in the massive line for the porta-potties did I realize just how BIG this event was. You think you know what 16,000 people looks like, but you really don’t until you see a group that large herded into 5 different corrals across just a few city blocks.

I distinctly remember having the overwhelming urge to say “moooo, mooooo” while snuggly tucked into the back of Corral 2. I suppressed that urge, of course.

The Start

Ok, I have to admit, the Start was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live event and heard a gunshot to signal the start of an event. Watching it on TV is different from hearing the sharp “pop!” in real life.  I had imagined the crowds parting and Anna and I comfortably settling into our own special space.  The reality was some bumping,  a lot of “excuse me’s”, and a few almost trips over curbs, all topped with a bit of organized chaos.  Corrals or not, 16,000 people takes a couple miles to spread out.

Mile 1- Exciting

I’m feeling good. Anna and I are holding a steady pace. The first hill up East Cliff along the San Lorenzo River wasn’t as bad as I expected. I understand the benefits of running in a pack. You run faster and it’s much funner. We waved to an overhead drone, listened to a Scottish bag pipe group, and I pointed out to Anna the first apartment Angel and I shared shared. Overall, Mile 1 was exciting.

Mile 2-  Scenic

By chance we happened to pass Anna’s family who had come out to wave at us. Anna briefly gave her daughter a kiss and hug and then we joined the pack once again. We ran past a couple who were wearing awesome T-shirts. His said, “I listen to her.” Hers said, “He listens to me!”  Anna and I both made mental notes to order those T-shirts for our husbands.  

Down Murray, over the Harbor Bridge, past the Crows Nest, and along Twin Lakes Beach, Mile 2 was very scenic.

Mile 3- Halfway

This stretch was relatively flat- Thank God! As someone brand new to this running scene, I was just grateful and happy I had made it to the halfway point. There were kids volunteering at the orange slice station and tons of people lined along the closed streets.  Those orange slices were a godsend. By now, we had found some open space to run.

Mile 4- Rough

Mile 4 was rough. I vaguely remember a band playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That helped. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Anna and I hadn’t run anything more than 4 miles in distance in the entire past year.  I had momentary visions of throwing in the towel, dropping to my knees, and having a full blown adult meltdown.  The balloon arches felt like they were getting farther and farther apart. Who measured these markers?!

Mile 5- Are we there yet?

By now, I think most people around me are feeling the endorphins. Everyone’s smiling. Opal Cliff is lovely and flat. There’s tons of people out along the closed streets with signs and smiles. I briefly think there’s something wrong with me because I am definitely not feeling it. Anna is telling me we are almost there, but I am seriously doubting her. Finally we see the downhill into Capitola Village and then the endorphins decide to kick in.

Post Race

Pictures have been taken, water has been drunk, and now it’s time to mingle and find a good place for a post-race drink (or two!)  Margaritaville had a three hour wait and standing room only in the bar. So we ventured next door to the Sand Bar where we promptly sidled up to the bartender and ordered a round of Bloody Mary’s…… 

Two Bloody Mary’s in and the sprint up the hill to try and catch the shuttle back to Santa Cruz was a definite rookie mistake. 

Count me in for the 2016 Wharf to Wharf. Fourth Sunday of July, Santa Cruz to Capitola is where you’ll find me.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146. ATGarcia@BaileyProperties.com