Cardiff Kook Run brings out goofy costumes, fast Canadians

Brian Charles, dressed as Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ran in the 5k division of the Cardiff Kook Run in Encinitas on Feb. 3, 2019.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego might not have had a team in the Super Bowl — or a NFL team at all, for that matter — but the competitive spirit was alive and well Sunday morning, Feb. 3, in Encinitas.

Roughly 2,000 people participated in the annual Cardiff Kook Run, which has been bringing out a mix of casual runners in goofy costumes and elite athletes since 2011.

Organizers said the race is a chance for the community to come together, promote fitness and stretch creative muscles with colorful costumes.

“It’s a community-based event,” said co-founder Seth Brewer, “but I also believe it has the nicest views of any race.”

The run is named for the Cardiff statue officially named Magic Carpet Ride, but called “Cardiff Kook” by just about everyone. The 16-foot bronze statue on Pacific Coast Highway, erected in 2007, has long been ridiculed by the surf community because the surfer depicted has a strange stance and is on a very small wave. A “kook” is a slang term for a surfer who has an exaggerated perception of their skills, according to Livemore Magazine.

Runners pass by the statue on the 10K run. There are other races too, including a 5K and short runs for children.

Costumes on display in Sunday’s race included fairies, superheroes, blind referees, pirates and plenty of creative get-ups. A group calling itself “Trolling the Kook” wore poofy, multi-color wigs like those worn by troll dolls. Taylor “King Troll” White, 29, of Encinitas, said he has been doing the race since it started with much of the same group.

“Everyone always dresses up,” he said, “and we always lose, so that’s fun.”

One of the most colorful outfits belonged to the Pelletier family, who had mermaid costumes with rainbow eyelashes, seashell headbands, blue lipstick, Hawaian leis and dresses meant to resemble fins.

Susan Pelletier, 59, of Encinitas, said she was running the race with her mom and sister from Calgary to honor her sister, Mitch, who died from cancer a year and a half ago.

“She was a big runner who loved costumes,” she said. They ran the race for the first time last year, which happened to be on Mitch’s birthday, in birthday-themed costumes.

The trio said they spent six hours on their costumes Saturday, huddled inside during the rainstorm.

Dressed as mermaids, Roxanne Pelletier, left, runs with her mom Carolyn Pelletier and sister Susan Pelletier during the 5k part of the Cardiff Kook Run in Encinitas on Feb. 3, 2019.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Luckily for runners, there was no rain during Sunday morning’s race, despite on-and-off showers through much of the weekend. It was around 53 degrees when the 10k started at 7:30 a.m. and overcast skies remained throughout the event, with a bashful sun only appearing a few brief times as the last 10K runners finished.

It seemed all ages were represented at the event, including a gang of 10-year-old girls from Ada W. Harris Elementary School. Keala Owens, Cassidy Schlect and Ali Burrell said they trained for the 5K by running laps and not stopping when they felt tired.

“My goal is not to run into someone,” Ali said before the race.

The Big Game was never far from many participants minds. Rachel Timmons, 43, of Solana Beach, wore leggings painted to make her legs look like footballs and planned to watch the Super Bowl later with her 70-year-old mother, who was also running the race. They were rooting for the Los Angeles Rams.

“I don’t want (New England Patriots’ Tom) Brady to win another Super Bowl,” she said.

Canadians were the big winners of the 10K, with top prizes going to members of Vancouver-based Mile 2 Marathon Running.

Lucas Bruchet, 27, won the 10K with a time of 29 minutes and 26 seconds. He said the race time was not a personal best, but he was pleased with the result. He competed for Canada in the 2016 Olympics.

Bruchet said the trail was one of the most gorgeous runs he had ever done. He said he wasn’t sure he was going to win, but knew it was going well.

“After about halfway, I just tried to stay on the gas,” he said red-faced moments after finishing.

Kirsten Lee, 25, took top prize for a woman in the 10K and scored her best ever time, finishing the race in 34 minutes and 40 seconds. Lee, who is also from Vancouver and part of Mile 2 Marathon, was previously a distance runner at the University of British Columbia.

“I never thought I was winning,” she said, equally red-faced. “I was trying to push for a personal best.”

-- Phillip Molnar is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune

Runners dressed as blind referees run in the 5k division of the Cardiff Kook Run in Encinitas Sunday morning.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)