Inaugural 5K highlights CSUMB RAFT Weekend

Monte Rey readies runners for Raft Week 5K

Otter mascot Monte Rey readies runners for the inaugural RAFT Weekend 5K. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

October 15, 2023

By Mark Muckenfuss

Perfect conditions greeted runners of the first CSU Monterey Bay 5K on Saturday, Oct. 14, as they gathered at the starting line outside the Otter Student Union. A thin quilted layer of clouds kept the course cool as students, faculty, staff and community members wound their way through the campus from the stadium to as far east as Seventh Street. 

And while the clouds made it difficult to see Saturday’s partial solar eclipse, the shadowed sun in no way diminished the energy of Raft Weekend, a three-day series of events that began Friday. 

The run was the highlight of Raft Weekend. Although it was a non-competitive event, with everyone receiving a medal, the first person across the finish line was Luke Termorshuizen, 23, a student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. 

“It was a good course and good weather,” Termorshuizen said. “I had fun.”

A marathon runner, who uses 5Ks as part of his training regimen, he said he enjoyed his first encounter with the CSUMB campus and beauty of its environment. 

Fiona Harrigian, 25, was the first woman to finish the run. She is a research scientist with the USDA in Salinas. Her finish surprised her a bit. 

“I haven’t raced a 5K in like four years, since I graduated college,” Harrigian said. “I just wanted to see what I could do.”

CSUMB President Vanya Quinoñes addressed the group of about 400 runners just before the start of the race.

About 400 people participated in the inaugural Monte's 5k run/walk/roll on campus as part of RAFT Weekend. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias


“This morning, we launch a new Otter tradition,” Quinoñes said. “We will have our very first Monte’s 5K. I am proud of our campus for finding ways to promote health and wellness for students, employees, community members and, now, our alumni.

“What could be better than a morning run around our beautiful campus,” she added, “knowing that your registration fees will provide scholarships for our Otter students?”

Quinoñes also thanked Aspire Health for its sponsorship of the event. 

Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Andrew Lawson was not content to watch others pounding the pavement. He added himself to the mix and finished in the middle of the pack. 

“I haven’t run in probably five or six years,” Lawson said. “I was happy to run the whole way. But I’ll be pleased if I can walk tomorrow.”

Lawson said he liked the idea of the 5K becoming a Raft Week tradition. 

“I’ve heard a lot of people who are excited for this to become an annual event,” he said. “It’s an additional opportunity to bring more people on campus to see the transition that’s happened here over the years. Each of these new traditions helps us build community on campus and engage with the external community.”

Lawson’s day was busy. Not only did he do the morning run, but he also allowed himself to be a target at the MB Madness event on the main quad, perching himself on the seat of the dunk tank. Monte Rey, CSUMB’s otter mascot, was the first to drop Lawson into the chilly barrel of water. 

“It wasn’t that bad,” Lawson said once he had clambered from the water, back onto the seat, awaiting the next person with good aim. “But now that I’m sitting here in the wind, it's a little cold. But it’s worth it for Basic Needs.” 

Participants had to make a donation to the Basic Needs program in order to fire a ball at the dunk tank target. 

Other activities available to event-goers included carnival games, lawn games such as a ring toss and Plinko, kite building and a mechanical bull that was actually a unicorn. Alumni-owned businesses offered free food. 

Amber Dimassimo, an Associated Students board member, was overseeing the event. She said between 400 and 500 people were expected to attend. 

“We’re trying to support local alumni businesses,” she said, referring to the food vendors. “We also partnered with Otter Athletics to bring different campus partners and administrators together.”

The weekend events began with an organized mountain bike ride through the rugged terrain of the Fort Ord Monument on Friday. Also on Friday, students were welcomed to engage in “destruction therapy” in a Break Room event, and divas of every gender orientation were invited to strut their stuff and show off their singing pipes at the Werk Witch Drag Show. 

Besides the 5K and MB Madness events, Saturday also featured a bike ride along the coastal trail to Monterey and back, carnival-type games on the quad, along with live music and food vendors. Sports fans got their fill in the evening as the women’s volleyball team took to the court to face Cal State East Bay. Later, the stadium was filled with cheers as the Monterey Bay Football Club took on Orange County. 

Sunday’s festivities began in the morning with a brunch hosted by President Quinoñes on the plaza of the Otter Student Union. She was joined by students and their families, as well as faculty, staff, administrators and community members who were offered eggs, tater tots, bacon, fruit, pastries and a variety of drinks.  

Veronica and Norm Serrano, the parents of first-year student Viviana, a marine science major from San José, ate together at one of the tables set out in the courtyard while people mingled and a playlist of new and throwback music filled the air. 

“Everything we like,” said Veronica about CSUMB. “And we appreciate this breakfast for parents.” 

It gave people on opportunity to meet and talk to those they didn’t previously know. An international transfer student who goes by the name Liao and was sitting at the same table as the Serranos introduced herself to them, saying she concurred with their approval of CSUMB.

“I’m in the bachelor of nursing program here,” Liao said. “I’m from Colorado and the [nursing] programs are all online there. I wanted to be in person. The faculty are willing to help you here — you don’t get ignored.” 

She said she was enjoying RAFT Weekend and had gone on the guided mountain bike trail ride and went to movie and game night.  

More than 100 registered attendees had come to the brunch at the half-way point, including many parents, with more students joining who just happened upon it and were invited to eat. Quiñones talked to parents, students, alumni and employees, asking students about their well-being and their field of study, and taking selfies with attendees. 

There was also a car show in Lot 71, featuring shiny new and vintage cars, as well as an alumni wine tasting event at Odonata Wines in the Santa Lucia mountain range overlooking Salinas Valley. 

In all, it was a successful weekend, bringing together the extended Otter family for fun times, a bit of exercise and plenty of memories. 

“We’ve spent three days enjoying new and old Otter traditions, and I hope everyone who attended reconnected with old friends and made some new ones,” Quiñones later said. “I saw so many Otter alumni and our current students with their families on campus, and it’s a reminder that our Raft is strong. I want to especially thank all those who helped to plan an excellent 2023 RAFT weekend.”

Walter Ryce contributed to this story.