Coasting for the Kook: Annual Cardiff race raises funds for statue upkeep

The+first-place+group+costume+trophy+for+the+Cardiff+Kook+Run+on+Feb.+2+was+awarded+to+this+group%2C+dressed+as+the+Coaster.+%28Photo+by+Ellen+Wright%29

The first-place group costume trophy for the Cardiff Kook Run on Feb. 2 was awarded to this group, dressed as the Coaster. (Photo by Ellen Wright)

Ellen Wright

The third annual Cardiff Kook Run drew thousands of runners Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2 and shut down Coast Highway 101 from B Street to Cardiff State Beach.

More than 2,000 runners came for the 5K and 10K run, some festooned in costumes to honor the many outfits the bronze “Kook” statue, officially known as “Magic Carpet Ride,” has been adorned in.

A portion of the proceeds go to Cardiff 101 Main Street Foundation, according to co-founder Seth Brewer. “The goal is for maintenance and preservation of the Kook,” Brewer said.

Damage to the statue stems from the constant costumes people adorn the Kook in. “Although it’s all done in good spirit, the weekly damage to the statue is quite serious,” Brenda Dizon, president of the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, said in the race program.

The money also goes towards park-related funding for the city. Brewer said proceeds are going toward building a disabled-access ramp behind the statue and a park in the same location.

A costume contest was held to encourage participants to have fun with the race.

Judges were looking for effort put into the get-ups as well as originality, according to judges Colleen McNanie and Gaila Lebherz. Runners could enter the contest as a group or individually.

The winners of the group contest dressed as the Coaster commuter train, with each person running as a cardboard train car complete with windows. The caboose brought up the rear and was dubbed “The Kookster.” The group ran in train formation the length of the run.

Some of the other costume standouts included a swarm of bumblebees, crayons, prom dates and a giant foot.

Henry Chan ran barefoot while dressed in a giant foot costume.

“I’ve been running barefoot for four years. I run in costumes I can incorporate my bare feet, like Tarzan or Aladdin,” Chan said.

Each year, the run has changed routes, although the 10K loop has always passed the statue at the intersection of Coast Highway 101 and Chesterfield Avenue. Co-founder Steve Lebherz welcomed attendees to the “Big League,” referring to the new route taking over Coast Highway 101.

The run gave people a rare chance to take over the entire southbound portion of the highway overlooking the bluffs.

“When else can you run in the middle of the highway?” 10K runner Kayla Evans said.

Brewer and Lebherz started the run as a way to burn off calories before the big game.

“There aren’t runs on Super Bowl Sunday,” Brewer said. “People like to dress up and people like to have fun.”

Participants did both on Sunday, although some more serious runners were on hand for the 10K.

Heather Jackson won first place in the women’s 10K and set a new course record with a finish time of 34 minutes and 30 seconds. Okwara Rauru won the men’s 10K, finishing at 31 minutes and 26 seconds.

Ellen Wright is a North County freelance writer