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2016 wharf to wharf

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SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL SATURDAY | JULY 23, 2016 WHARF TO WHARF 3 R acers lucky enough to get a bib for Sunday's 44th annual Wharf to Wharf may have taken their cue from the military: Hurry up, and wait. The event's general registration window — which was open to the first 8,000 entrants on a first-come, first- served basis — sold out in only 11 minutes after going on sale at 10 a.m. on April 1. Earlier in the week the local registration window — allotted to the first 4,000 entrants with billing addresses in Santa Cruz County — opened and closed in just 33 minutes. Race director Scott McConville said he didn't think general registration would sell out so quickly. Last year, 12,000 bibs were available through the general registration process and sold out in two hours, while the locals-only window sold 4,000 bibs in eight hours. "I didn't think it was going to be 11 minutes. I thought it'd be a little longer, to be honest," McConville said. "But at this point, nothing really surprises me anymore. "The times are rapidly shortening and each year the race fills out faster and faster as the popularity grows." This year though, for the first time, there was another option. Prospective racers who were unable to successfully sign up during the first two windows had a third and final chance to get a bib through the week-long "random selection process." Over the course of an entire week, organizers accepted lottery applications for the race's remaining 4,000 bibs — a process not uncommon among the many small-but-popular road races across the country. Applicants could sign up at their leisure through the event's website and elect to race as an individual or with friends and family as a group — but not both. McConville said he was surprised by the number of applications received during this process -- barely more than the number of available bibs. Winners were notified mid-April. "We didn't get a crazy amount of people that applied for it," he said. He added that he didn't feel one year's worth of data could give him any indication as to how popular the process might be going forward. What isn't popular, he acknowledged, is the speed at which the first two windows sold out. Several runners posted comments on the event's Facebook page after the April 1 window, with some expressing delight at receiving an entry, others displeasure after general registration sold out in record time. Some prospective racers said they were frustrated when, in the middle of registering, the sign-up window closed. McConville said it's all fair criticism as the event continues to evolve its sign-up process. And while there might not be a "perfect answer" to registration, organizers will continue to research and explore different ways of handling the process. One idea discussed would reflect the process of purchasing tickets through sites like TicketMaster, which have a running timer during the application process. If, for instance, prospective races were unable to complete the application process within a specific amount of time, their bibs would go back into the available pool. McConville wasn't sure if that process would work specifically for the Wharf to Wharf, but he said it's an idea worth exploring for the future. "It doesn't seem fair that someone is in the middle of registering and they get shut out," he said. "Unfortunately, that happened to a lot of people this year." Registration Times Continue to BREAK RECORDS by Andrew Matheson, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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