Kenyans Silas Kipruto and Caroline Rotich made triumphant returns to the Wharf to Wharf Race on Sunday morning.
Under perfect muted weather, Kipruto won the overall title, Rotich captured the women’s title and 16,000 runners made the six-mile trek between the Santa Cruz and Capitola wharfs in the race’s 46th installment.
A champion in 2011 and a top-three finisher in each of the last two years, Kipruto, 33, outlasted fellow Kenyan Simion Chirchir, who last year finished runner-up to Teshome Mekonen.
Kipruto sped down Cliff Drive and into the Capitola Village with a time of 27 minutes, 52 seconds. Chirchir followed closely, finishing just five seconds behind the champion.
American Scott Smith took third in 28:01 and Kenyan Wilson Kibogo completed the top four at 28:27.
Kipruto walked away with $4,000 for his efforts. Chirchir won $3,000, Smith $2,000 and Kibogo $1,000. For crossing the finish line as the top American, Smith won another $1,000.
Rotich, 34, lit the course a blaze during her championship run in 2014 by breaking the women’s record. She bested her previous performance on Sunday, reseting the women’s course record with a time of 29:59 to win the $4,000 cash prize.
Kenyans Delvine Meringor and Monicah Ngige placed second (29:59) and third (30:47) to win $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. American Stephanie Bruce went home with $2,000 in total after placing fourth (31:05) — $1,000 for taking fourth and another $1,000 for being the first American woman across.
Scotts Valley’s Nick Heath again was the first local male to cross the finish line (29:54) and Capitola's Amy Schnittger was the top local female (34:26).
Dubbed "the best little road race in California," the Wharf to Wharf Race annually infuses the Santa Cruz County economy with more than $8,000,000, according to the race's website.
The race has also donated more than $5,000,000 to youth sports programs across the county.