Second annual Kook Run draws colorful characters


Participants dressed as sheep cross the finish line in unison during the second annual Cardiff Kook Run on Feb. 3. (Photo by Scott Allison)

Helen Hawes

Helen Hawes

Masked Zorros, cave people, a bride and some serious athletes shut down Coast Highway on Feb. 3 as they ran with 2,000 other contenders in the second annual Cardiff Kook Run 5K and 10K races.

The event is held in honor of an Encinitas icon, the Cardiff Kook sculpture. Officially named “The Magic Carpet Ride,” residents love to dress up the statue, which appears to surf along Coast Highway. They also like to costume themselves, as they arrived in some of the guises of the statue and others of their own imagination.

It was a dual excuse to get some exercise and have some crazy fun. Families and friends came in groups. Trained athletes arrived to press their limits, but joggers and walkers also made a great showing, representing every age from babies in parent-propelled strollers to seniors.

Young students Alex Denny, Audrey Sawyer and Lily Dhey are 5K Kook Run veterans. Participating for their second year, they worked out to increase their endurance for the event.

They agreed the hardest part of the race was “running, not getting tired or slowing down.”

Laurel Smith and her crew came dressed as mustachioed Zorros in black capes and sombreros, ready for the 5K.

“We’re all girlfriends and we thought we’d come out here and support the cause,” she said.

Frank Delattre is a longtime 10K runner, but Sunday marked his first competition.

“I’ve always run for recreation, not for competition,” he said. “Encinitas is a nice community and I thought it’d be good to have fun at it instead of going after a world record.”

But some of the runners were definitely in it for the win. Ben Bruce, a San Diego native, strode in to pick up the men’s title while Claire Rethmeier of Encinitas clinched the women’s.

The Kook Run is the brainchild of Steve Lebherz and his son-in-law, Seth Brewer. They always enjoyed running along Coast Highway, especially on Superbowl Sunday morning, when they used the workout as an excuse to celebrate a little more while watching the game in the afternoon. They wondered why more people weren’t out there when they happened to pass the Kook.

Brewer looked at the statue, then at Lebherz, and asked, “Why don’t we have a Kook Run?”

Then, Lebherz’ wife, Kristie, brought the fun by suggesting costumes. So, after two years of going to meetings and getting permits, The Kook Run was official. Proceeds from the run have gone toward the upkeep of the statue, which was falling into disrepair. But now the purpose is loftier.

“Our goal is to build an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) ramp that goes from the crosswalk back behind the Kook so that people can push their strollers down to the state park entrance,” Steve Lebherz said.

Helen Hawes is a North County freelance writer