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Wharf to Whart 2023

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Contributed Photo "The Race Is On" (Again) for Mark McConnell By Michael Gaither This year is the 51st annual Wharf to Wharf. Mark McConnell is run- ning this year for the first time since 1977. But he's no stranger to the race. We recent- ly caught up on the phone, and Mark gave me a fun look back at those early days. Mark recalls that "the race originally grew out of a Capitola Heritage Days Celebration back in 1973." He even helped measure the course before that first race. The first year, Mark came in second place. The second year, he placed third. And in the third year of the event, Mark won. He was off at grad school during the race's fourth year, returning for the fifth year. "Al- though I still ran other races, I didn't do good enough in the fifth year of the Wharf to Wharf to make me happy, "Mark remembers. I" still wanted to be involved, so I've been on the organizing end of the race ever since." He's driven the timing truck, he's the Race Director every summer, and he's on the board. And the race has obviously grown into a BIG local event. "There were 270 runners in that first year. We had double that in the sec- ond year. Now it tops out at 15,000. And in the early years, there wasn't a formal board," Mark says. "We incor- porated in 1980 as a nonprofit. Mark added, "we've tried to keep it big, but humble". As a nonprofit, the Wharf to Wharf race itself is the organiza- tion's main fundraiser. It allows them to give $250K each year to the Santa Cruz County running community in the form of schol- arships, grants, and helping schools with running facilities and equipment. Mark's looking for- ward to returning as a runner this Sunday. "You just can't find a better course," with its coastal views and a few easy hills here and there. "We call it 'the The Wharf to the (NEW) Wharf By Michael Gaither The Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project Partners with Wharf to Wharf By both definition and reputation, you know that this Sunday's Wharf to Wharf race runs from The Board- walk near the Santa Cruz Wharf, along the coast, and ends at the Capitola Wharf. You also know that after this year's run of winter storms, the Capitola Wharf is in major need of repair. A combination of insurance coverage and grants will cover the repairs and up- grades. However, the Wharf to Wharf orga- nization, along with a small grass roots group of local Capitola citizens organized into The Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project (CWEP), have decided to make this an oppor- tunity and add further enhancements to what will become the new Capitola Wharf. Scott McConville, Race Director of the Wharf to Wharf organi- zation, says "our main ethos is to try and do as much good as we can for the running community" – and the community in general – "to take this amazing local event, stay true to our values, and make it a little better every year." On the matter of the Capitola Wharf, they decided to get involved and help raise addition- al funds for the wharf project. "After the dev- astation" of the winter storms, and "with our registration opening in March and April," Scott says, "we saw a chance to do something to help bring awareness to the funding needs of the re- building. At that point, we got involved with the City of Capitola and CWEP. And we found a quick solution with this partnership." Scott adds, "this is our one chance to make this historical landmark attractive and more than it was." And with the Wharf to Wharf being a 501C3 non-profit organization, connecting to CWEP made donating simple – and tax deductible - as well. Gayle Ortiz, of Gayle's Bakery is one of those passionate citizens who quickly got in- volved. "It's the time, and it's the opportunity to make this project generational." The community at large is also behind the idea. Gayle says, "our committee developed a survey, and we got over 1000 responses, which is phenomenal!" After we did that, we asked the city if they would join with us and have a public forum where people could voice what they want to see. We're talking to designers will be pre- senting what types of wharf projects in Cal- ifornia that they have created. "Gayle adds, "And with the survey and forum results, they know what direction our community wants to go." Some of the funds raised by The Wharf to Wharf in partnership with CWEP will carry the cost for those de- signers, so it won't be all on the city. As far as what the new wharf might offer, Gerry Jensen, the Lead Chair on CWEP and part of the City of Capitola Planning Commission, hinted at what we might see and the reasoning behind it: "The wharf was amazing before, but we want to make it more of a destination and an experience." Suggested enhance- ments include "educa- tional signage, possibly viewing stations with telescopes, benches and shading, and even just more bathrooms." These additions are intended to bring people onto the wharf to really take the views of our bay and the city. "Scott adds, "It's a whole different view of looking back at Capito- la from out there." And if it all goes to plan, next year's run- ners will see that new Capitola Wharf as they cross that finish line. ----- About CWET: Go to capitolavillage.com/ wharf to find out how you can learn more, make a tax-deductible donation or even volun- teer your time. Web Photo best little road race in California'. We do draw professional runners, and yet it offers some- thing for everyone. Anyone who can run or just six miles can participate." As far as advice for anyone running the race for the first time? There's rumors of a heat wave this Sun- day. Mark said, "be conservative, hydrate, and rest up." And most importantly, "just go out and have a good time". And what made Mark decide to return to the race this year? "This year I turned 70. I figured if I'm going to run the Wharf to Wharf again, I'd better get to it."

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