When the bronze statue of a surfer went up on Coast Highway a few years ago, nobody likely anticipated the iconic status it would soon earn. The artwork — formally titled Magic Carpet Ride but dubbed the ‘Cardiff Kook’ — is now perhaps the best-dressed statue on the planet, thanks to its almost-weekly wardrobe change by locals. In the wake of that one statue, we’ve seen ‘Cardiff Kook’ inspired , , , , an , even a — and now, a 5K and 10K race.
The Cardiff Kook Run will debut Sunday, Feb. 5. And yes, football fans, that is Super Bowl Sunday, but race organizer Steve Lebherz says that’s actually a plus.
“This is a great way to get some exercise before the big game,” Lebherz says. “That way, you won’t feel so bad about those beers.”
Lebherz is speaking from experience. He’s been running this race route on Super Bowl Sunday for 30 years — and technically, he and three fellow founders ran the first Cardiff Kook race last Super Bowl Sunday as a test-drive for the course. “And, so I could be on the books as a winner,” he jokes.
Lebherz and his son-in-law Seth Brewer actually got the idea after running past the Cardiff Kook, along the same strip of Coast Highway they’ve been running for years.
“The course is beautiful, and we just thought to ourselves ‘More people should see this.’” And so, they set out to make that happen.
Of course, the Cadiff Kook Run wouldn’t be complete without a costume contest, and organizers are expecting locals to pay homage to some of the throwback favorites.
“We’re definitely expecting some , and maybe a or two,” Lebherz says.
Costumes are optional and prizes will go to the top three athletes who best interpret the sprit of the Cardiff Kook. Costumes will be judged as runners cross the finish line, and winners will be recognized immediately following the race. Organizers also ask that you keep those costumes family-friendly, folks.
Though the race aims to have fun, it will also raise money for Cardiff schools, community, and go toward establishing a fund that will pay for the maintenance of the 'Cardiff Kook' statue, which is often chipped and damaged by the people who dress it up. That’s especially fitting considering Lebherz and his wife are some of the original donors who helped bring the statue to Cardiff. Lebherz, in fact, got the blessing from artist Matthew Antichevich before naming the race — and one of Antichevich’s other artworks was the inspiration for the race champion trophy, which will be shared among sponsors and publically displayed.
In special honor of the inaugural race, the fastest male and female in the 10K will have their names engraved on that champion trophy, which you can get a sneak peek at in the photo attached to this story. The trophy, Lebherz says, truly showcases the talent of this artist, and anticipates people will be impressed with what they see.
Everyone who crosses the finish line gets a Cardiff Kook medal, and a Cardiff Kook long sleeve T-shirt. Both races will be chip-timed, and registration for the 5K is $30 and the 10K costs $40.
The 5K and 10K race will begin at and head south through downtown Encinitas and along Coast Highway. Both courses include water and fruit stations, and you can view a course map online.
All runners will pick-up their packets on race day at 7:30 a.m. at . After the race, there will be refreshments, courtesy of sponsor . Other sponsors and exhibitors include , CACE Insurance Agency, and
Whether you’re a hardcore competitor, a weekend warrior, or just someone looking for a good excuse to dress up, Lebherz says the Cardiff Kook Run is right for you.
“Come get your Kook on.”
You can get some more information about the race, and register online, by visiting cardiffkookrun.com.