On March 29, the Carlsbad 5000 celebrates its 30th anniversary. In recent weeks, Competitor has been profiling the seven runners who have run every race, from the beginning in 1985, and plan on keeping their streak alive, making it 30 straight.
Peggy Ridley read Michelle Wilson’s Carlsbad 5000 tale with a smile. They shared some similarities. Both are 57 years old. Both collected their ’Bad T-shirts. Wilson stuffed hers in a rubber tub; Ridley let a tote bag hold the collection. Both are in select company, one of the seven runners to participate in the previous 29 Carlsbad races. But if they experienced common ground, so, too, were they different.
“The similarities stop there,” Ridley explained in an e-mail.
Wilson regularly crossed the finish line arms extended above her head, placing in her age group.
“I have never received a (placing) medal,” wrote Ridley.
But if a medal were awarded for dedication to the race and–let’s be precise here–sheer determination to keep on streaking, Ridley might be favored to take home the gold. There was the time she caught a flight from Albuquerque, N.M., hours after a family wedding to make the Carlsbad start.
That, though, is tame compared to the other sacrifices Ridley has made to show up at Carlsbad the past 10 years. In 2004, Ridley and her husband moved to Boonville, Calif., about 150 miles north of San Francisco. Much of their time is passed caring for the four-acre spread that harvests grapes to produce Chardonnay and Pinot noir wine.
But come late March or early April, depending upon where the Carlsbad 5000 falls on the calendar, Ridley finds her way back to Southern California, hanging the two U-turns on Carlsbad Village Drive for the race billed as The World’s Fastest 5K.
“I don’t want to break my streak,” says Ridley. “It’s very important.”
In her mid-20s Ridley was working for a San Diego medical device company. Some co-workers jogged during lunch and they recruited Ridley, not because they thought she’d enjoy running but because they respected her manager leadership skills.
“They figured I knew how to motivate employees to get things done,” recalls Ridley.
She lived an active lifestyle, working out at a gym, hiking, skiing, playing golf. She started the joggers on a program that had them walking five minutes, jogging 20, walking five. Soon, their routine took longer than the lunch hour allowed. Workouts shifted to the 101 Coast Highway.
Ridley ran a 10K on Mission Bay’s Fiesta Island. Then Tim Murphy, Steve Scott and company started the Carlsbad 5000. Ridley lived in the city, loved downtown, entered the first race and loved it from the start.
Among her many highlights over the years: running along the coast, watching waves crash in the distance, meeting Joan Benoit Samuelson, admiring the elite African athletes, dancing to the Mar Dels, sipping brews with friends in the beer garden.
Besides the March 29 race being her 30th Carlsbad 5000, the event will be special for another reason. Chuck McCoy, her mother’s husband, passed away on Feb. 23. He was 91.
On the day McCoy died, he walked in the morning, like always. He headed to his office and began working on the computer.
“He was buying bonds and trading stocks up to the minute he died,” says Ridley.
McCoy loved to travel. He was active in his church. Professionally, he worked for Chevron as an engineer, lecturing and teaching safety. He organized family reunions. On March 29, Ridley will dedicate the race to her late father-in-law.
Says Ridley, “I’ll be thinking of all the wonderful things he did.”