When the early afternoon tide is low, participants in the Surfing Madonna "Save the Ocean" 5K/10K line up waterside on Moonlight Beach. The scenic run takes athletes of all stripes along the shore to their respective 5k and 10k turnaround points, at which point they must loop back to the finish. Each runner has three hours to complete his or her route, which features aid stations stocked with food and drink along the way. The top 20 male and female finishers divvy up $8,000 worth of prize money, while the top ladies and gents in each age division receive handmade mosaic medals by artist Mark Patterson.
Those awards are distributed during the run’s all-day after party, where vendors supply free snacks and drinks as live music resounds across the shore. In addition to awards for the race, the after-party includes a presentation of $20,000 in scholarships to local students. Likewise, Surfing Madonna—a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the world’s oceans—donates an additional $20,000 to local beach- and ocean-related projects, which are voted for by race participants.
H2O Trash Patrol has a singular mission: to keep sand and water free of trash. The nonprofit was borne out of a family exercise in picking up debris from the beach, but the influx of garbage was soon too much to keep up with. So H2O Trash Patrol was formed, and its members float atop the waters in and around San Diego county waterways on standup-paddleboards, lampooning marine debris before sorting them and recycling what they can. H2O Trash Patrol's goals are big. Its 50-50-50 challenge aims to clean 50 waterways in 50 states over the course of 50 days, and its efforts have been recognized by the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, which gave the organization an Environmental Hero Award in 2011.
To raise funds for its mission, H2O Trash Patrol offers standup-paddleboarding lessons to the uninitiated, teaching pupils how to balance, paddle, and maneuver their boards as they cruise on flat water. Lessons traverse the coast at various locales such as Oceanside Harbor, Carlsbad Lagoon, and San Diego Bay.
California Wolf Center was founded in 1977 to educate the public about wildlife and ecology, specifically the history and behavior of the gray wolf. Located 50 miles east of San Diego, it houses 19 wolves—five Alaskan gray wolves and 14 of the approximately 358 Mexican gray wolves that exist worldwide. The wolves act as ambassadors for the wild, taking part in educational programs for the public. The center also participates in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan, which aims to help the endangered species recover in the wild. At the facility, wolves live in off-exhibit enclosures that can help retain their natural behavior since some of them will eventually be released back into the wild.
"Vin hesten," a Norwegian phrase meaning "wine horses," is an appropriate title for a stable located right in the middle of Temecula Valley's wine country. And though wine and horseback riding is a major draw for tourists and locals, Vin Hesten Trail Adventures has a far more humanitarian pursuit. Every trail horse onsite is a rescue from a neighboring ranch that may otherwise have been sent to auction or slaughter. Guests can stop by for a quick lesson, purchase gear, or opt for a guided trail ride through the lush outlying wine country.
At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.