Wharf to Wharf 2005 Race Report

Well, that was a learning experience. Today I ran the Wharf to Wharf race, a 6 mile run along the ocean from Santa Cruz to Capitola. I learned:

  1. 15,000 people on one road is *really* a lot of people
  2. Most people think they can run 5-6 minute miles and line up accordingly
  3. Most people who try to run a 6 minute mile end up walking after the first mile
  4. Dodging said runners as you encounter them adds a new dimension to a race

The Wharf to Wharf race is a California classic and has been taking place for 32 years. Two people at the race today had actually been there for every single race! The folks that put it on really did a nice job with the event. The race is as much a social outing as a race, and there were an incredible 46 bands along the race route (yes, 46 bands in 6 miles.) The variety was remarkable. Sure, you had the standard garage rock bands out there, but there were some memorable ones: 1. The Pot & Kettle Band. Yes, that really is what they played. 2. The Westwind Recorder Consort. This was a band of about 8 octogenarians playing wooden recorders. I must admit this had the psychological effect of actually slowing me down, but it was quite lovely.

As for my race, I was certainly not prepared for the crush of people that were really around for the entire race. I actually lined up under the 7:30 pace marker which was what I was hoping to hold. But, if you saw “lesson 2” above, a good half the crowd lined up ahead of me. The race went something like this:

“Runners, take your mark”
“Bang!”
… Wait …
… Wait … (“Are we ever going to move?” I start thinking)
… Start walking and bump into the guy in front of me …
… etc …

It took me over 2 minutes just to get to the actual starting line! The first mile was mostly jogging and trying to find the best place to be in the pack (turns out it didn’t matter, really) and I finished that mile in a little over 10 minutes. Ugh! But there wasn’t much I could do. I figured out the best way to weave in and out of traffic for the rest of the race, and was passing people for the first four miles, at which point it pretty much started to even out. I ended with a time of 50:28, averaging roughly 8 minute miles for the rest of the race. Definitely not what I’d hoped when it came to time, but not bad considering the obstacles. At one point shortly after mile 1 (about 3/4 of the way up the toughest climb of the race) I actually had to dodge out of the way of a highschool student who clearly had gone out WAY too hard and lost his breakfast on the side of the road. Yuck! You really see a bit of everything on this race.

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~ by Nathan on July 24, 2005.

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