ENCINITAS — Elite runner Okwaro Rauro, 39, of Oceanside, took first place in the Cardiff Kook 10K at 31 minutes and 26 seconds, which breaks down to an average speed of a 5 minute 3 second mile.
Rauro said he has run faster in other races, but the enjoyment of a community run is the camaraderie and spirit of the race.
“There were so many different levels of fun,” Rauro said. “There was costume running. The weather was good. I enjoy people having fun. Anybody who has ability can do it.”
The 10K/5K run took place along a closed-off stretch of Coast Highway 101 on Feb. 2.
True to the race’s three-year tradition, it was held the morning of Super Bowl Sunday.
Rauro describes the back and forth course as scenic and a bit challenging.
He said he needed to put in a good effort during the run back, which had a steady incline.
By the 3.5-mile mark Rauro had a significant lead and said he could focus his attention on visualizing crossing the finish line first.
This is Rauro’s first Cardiff Kook win.
As the race winner he was awarded $500 and will have his named engraved on the race trophy.
Rauro has been racing competitively for more than 16 years and competes in a race every two months.
He began running in college.
Rauro moved from Kenya to California in 1996 in order to attend college and earn a degree.
While attending Palomar College he played on the soccer team.
During practice drills, people started to notice that he could run.
“In college I realized I could run,” Rauro said. “People noticed I ran faster than anyone else.”
He began running at Palomar College and was tapped by Steve Scott, the American one-mile record holder from 1982 to 2007, to run on the Cal State San Marcos track team.
Rauro describes running for Scott as one of his most memorable accomplishments as a runner.
He went on to run a 4-minute mile.
Since then Rauro has competed and placed in numerous local races, consistently finishing as a top runner.
“I’ve had quite a lot of moments,” Rauro said. “To run a 4-minute mile was a big achievement.”
Rauro works full time as an accountant and considers running his second job.
He trains and races throughout the year with his athletic peak in summer when the most races with the largest prize purses are held.
Rauro trains intensely to build up his base before a race, then cuts back from six to three days a week of running a week prior to a race.
He races in 5K, 10K, one-mile and half marathon competitions.
Rauro said the different distances give him good feedback on his training and preparation.
He is disciplined in his training but not strict about what he eats.
“I do not have a regiment,” Rauro said. “I eat anything, with respect to what I can afford (yes including bread and pasta). A specific diet can be expensive.”
Rauro said he tries to enjoy life.
He added that before a race, doubts can creep into his thoughts, but he refocuses, knows he has trained well, and maintains a positive belief that he can win to pull him through to the finish.
Rauro said he feels blessed to live in the United States and have so many opportunities.
He supports his wife and daughter, and helps support his mother and eight siblings in Kenya.
“I’m blessed to be in a country without limits,” Rauro said. “I support my brothers and sisters through their endeavors.
“I make a little bit of money here. If their life is miserable, I will be miserable.”
His next race is the U-T California 10/20 on Feb. 16, which takes off from Del Mar.
The race has a first-place cash prize of $3,000.
Rauro said the unusual length of the 10-mile race and substantial prize money draws international elite athletes to compete.
“It’s extremely hard competition,” Rauro said. “We all believe we can win.”