KOZ Events Announces New Half Marathon Course and Mike Hess CAF Beer Garden

October 31, 2019

Silver Strand Veterans Day Half Marathon, 10 Miler, and 5K - November 10, 2019

On November 10th, you can celebrate Veteran’s Day and support our veterans and our nation’s first responders by participating in the 20th Annual Silver Strand Veterans Day Half Marathon, 10 Miler and 5K, brought to you by KOZ events.

The event will be held by Life Sports Foundation and will benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation – Operation Rebound, which is dedicated to strengthening the mental and physical well-being of veterans, military personnel and first responders with permanent physical injuries by empowering them with sports and fitness. New this year, the CAF Fundraising Beer Garden has been moved to Mike Hess Brewing, located along the finshline chute at 805 Ocean Ln. in Imperial Beach. This location is ideal for celebrating and cheering on runners as they come into the finishline.

“It’s such an honor to put on this event benefiting our nation’s Veterans and first responders,” said KOZ Events co-owner, Tobias Panek. “We hope to raise the $20,000 needed to enable CAF Operation Rebound to provide sports wheelchairs for our nation’s military and first responders.”

The event features a new Half Marathon course this year, which will exit Hwy 75 and run through Silver Strand State Beach on both the beach and bay sides, adding to the natural beauty of this course.

The Silver Strand races are incredibly inclusive and welcome runners, walkers, skaters, handcycles, wheelchairs, and ElliptiGo athletes.

Michael Johnston, a Navy veteran and Operation Rebound Athlete will be participating in the Silver Strand 5K on November 10th. He served in the Navy from 2002 until 2010, despite a debilitating motorcycle accident in 2003 that claimed his left leg.

“I was never that guy that went out and did 5Ks,” said Johnston. “It wasn’t until after my accident that I became athletic. When Challenged Athletes Foundation told me about triathlon and got me a bike? That elevated me into a competitive athlete and changed my life. I found it tremendously important for recovery. I raced with everyone else and crossed the finish line with a sense of joy and accomplishment. For the length of the race, I wasn’t thinking about my leg. I was just competing.”

Johnston was only the fifth amputee to stay on in an active duty capacity in the Navy.

“I wanted to carry my weight,” he explained about his commitment to service. “I wanted to lead my squadron in physical readiness. After my accident, I could have become the guy with one leg. Instead, I wanted my identity to be as a great athlete.”

For a typical amputee, most insurance companies won’t cover the cost of adaptive sports equipment. That means that if someone experienced joy from surfing, snowboarding, running, or cycling before an accident, those opportunities are no longer available unless they can afford the significant expense of specialized athletic equipment and prosthetics.

“The military was great with helping me get my prosthetic,” said Johnston. “But Operation Rebound really connected me with triathlon as well as other challenged athletes. That was as important as getting the gear I needed.”

About five years after his accident, Johnston moved to San Diego and was stationed on Coronado. By 2010, he was so successful in triathlon that he was on the US National Para -Triathlon Team.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck again when he was racing in Brazil in 2014.

“I headed out of transition on my bike and I was jamming,” he remembers. “There was one guy ahead of me and I was out for the win. Then, on my prosthetic side, my foot unclipped, my bike slid out, and my hip slammed into the curb.”

Johnston sustained a fractured hip and a crushed iliac wing. While he didn’t need surgery, the accident put an end to his dreams of competing in the 2016 Summer Paralympics. Undaunted, Johnston put in the rehab necessary to recover and decided to go after his long-time dream of becoming a teacher. He will finish his studies next May and looks forward to mentoring and inspiring youth as an elementary teacher in San Diego. He is also now a proud husband and father of an almost-one-year-old.

“The world we live in has a lot of suffering,” said Johnston. “It’s so easy to feel alienated but there is so much value in pushing through. Competing in local races is a way of both challenging ourselves and connecting with a healthy, vibrant community.”

You can join Johnston in the Silver Strand 5K on November 10th and know that your donations will help other challenged athletes gain the equipment and opportunities to connect with community and opportunities to compete.

For more information, to register, or to make a donation to CAF Operation Rebound, visit www.silverstrandhalf.com.

To save $10 off your registration – Use Code: 10USA (New Registrations Only)