ENCINITAS — Before the race even begins, a completely different, yet equally serious competition has gotten underway.
After months of preparing, participants in the Cardiff Koon 10k/5k run costume contest emerge, dressed in their best depictions of the Kook and the countless concoctions the statue has been dressed up as.
The Cardiff Kook statue (its official name is “Magic Carpet Ride”), has been dressed up as a caveman being taken away in the clutches of pterodactyl, it’s been swallowed by a giant shark and has even been a wise man during the holiday seasons.
Kristie Lebherz, whose husband Steve co-founded the run, came up with the idea to host a costume contest.
She’s served as judge in some of the competitions. As a judge, she said she looks for costumes that the statue has been dressed up as.
But now that the Kook, he doesn’t seem to be getting dressed up as much, she said, she tends to look for originality in the costumes.
The judging criteria are as follows:
40 percent authenticity
20 percent originality
20 percent detail
20 percent presentation
There are two categories for the costume entrants to participate in, the individual and the group, and there is the “Spirit Award,” given to the runners up.
“You can tell if someone has done a lot or done nothing,” Kristie said.
“A lot of people can just do average, but there’s a few that go all out.”
She said she’s looking forward to what “Kooky” ideas the participants will come up with for 2014.
During the first year of the race, Kristie said she didn’t think the costume contest was going to be taken so seriously. “I thought maybe we would have a handful of people, but we had hundreds that dressed up, and I was shocked. And then next year, even more came dressed.
“And so yeah, I think it’s getting more serious. They put a lot of work into it,” she added.
“I think that the whole community loves coming together and doing something like this, it’s all in such good fun,” she said. “It includes the kids, families and individuals and I just think that everybody just likes to come together and have a good time.”
And Kristie has seen the costume contest idea catch on with other participating runners from outside of the community, too.
“I just think people like to do that. I really personally can’t believe how much effort they put into it.”
A lot of that speaks to how popular the Kook has become around the world.
She said that when it was first dressed up, she was in Hawaii and it made the front page of the newspaper.
“I’ve had people send me papers from all over, internationally, and they’ve seen it (the statue) and heard of it. So he’s popular,” she said.
Kristie’s never dressed up the Kook, but she admitted it’s something that she’s been wanting to do.