The annual Wharf to Wharf, also known as “the best little road race in California” is back for its 47th year. 

The six-mile run between the Santa Cruz and Capitola wharves returns Sunday.

At 8:30 a.m. sharp, 16,000 runners — a little more than a dozen competing for cash prizes — will zoom through the streets of Santa Cruz into the Capitola Village.

Here’s a look at what’s new:


Kenyan Silas Kipruto is the defending champion after he finished in 27-minutes, 52-seconds. He’ll try to capture a second-straight title and third overall since 2011.   

Kipruto, 34, was also the 2019 Cooper River Bridge Run Champion (27:58). He outlasted fellow Kenyan Simion Chirchir, who is scheduled to return this year, too. 

American Scott Smith, 33, who took third last year, is coming back along with Kenyan Wilson Kibogo, who completed the top four finishers.

Caroline Rotich, 35, won last year’s women’s title and reset the women’s course record in 29:59 but she’s not listed on this year’s elite roster. 

Kenyans Delvine Meringor and Monicah Ngige placed second (29:59) and third (30:47), respectively, while American Stephanie Bruce placed fourth (31:05).

However, neither of those runners are listed on this year’s elite roster.

Instead, the field will feature 26-year-old Kenyan Vicoty Chepngeno, who was the 2019 Rite Aid 10k Champion.

Kenyan Pamela Cherotich, 33, who placed second at 2019 Blue Cross Broad Street 10-mile, and Margaret Wangari, 33, who placed second at the 2019 Cooper River Bridge 10k, are also featured on the elite roster.

American Grayson Murphy, 24, placed seventh at the 2019 Utica Boilermaker 15k is also set to compete.

Scotts Valley’s Nick Heath again was the first local male to cross the finish line last year (29:54) and Capitola’s Amy Schnittger was the top local female (34:26). Heath is expected to return but Schnittger looks to be skipping this year.

Other top local runners include Santa Cruz’s Mari Friedman and Abbey Meck. 

This year’s cash prize purse totals $22,000. The top male and female finishers win $4,000. Second place takes home $3,000, third wins $2,000 and fourth pockets $1,000. The top American male and female finisher also win $1,000.



The organization is going for a green certification and race director Scott McConville said they’re shooting to be one of the first green events in Santa Cruz County.

One of the big changes include eliminating plastic bottles from the event by partnering with Pathwater, a reusable aluminum water bottle designed to be reused beyond race day.

Plus, all aid stations on course will be supplied with compostable cups.

“Every year we’re trying to make the race a little bit better,” McConville said. “We’ve been working on this for a few years… Just being a big event in town, I feel like it’s our responsibility to always look at the race in all facets.”

The organization is seeking certification by the Council for Responsible Sport, which sponsors different sports and running events. 



The organization implemented drug testing for the first time since the 1990s. McConville said it was more costly back then and there was a lot more logistics, such as difficulty working with the United States Anti Doping Agency.

McConville said now it’s easier and affordable. He said random drug testing is for athletes who win any of the prize money.

“For us, it’s something we’ve done in the past and we’ve been wanting to do for awhile just to keep the integrity for awhile,” he said.

McConville said doping is an issue at the Olympic level and it does happen at the lower levels but it’s hard to say how much it happens. 

“But I think that there’s still enough of it going on,” he said. 


Editor’s Note: This article will be published in the July 27 edition of the Pajaronian.

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