After working a graveyard patrol shift, at a time when she normally would be sleeping before reporting to her next graveyard shift later that day, the deputy decided to spend part of the holiday morning doing what made perfect sense to her:
Running a 5K.
In full uniform and gear.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Laurel Yoshimoto wasn’t alone in her July 4 quest.
Deputy Rodrigo Ruelas also had come straight from his graveyard patrol shift in Lake Forest to participate in the 25th El Toro Chargers 5k in Lake Forest.
Deputy Matt Moulson, who also works patrol in Lake Forest, worked July 3 and ran before his night shift on the Fourth.
Joining the three Lake Forest partners (Yoshimoto recently transferred to Dana Point) was Reserve Deputy David Clarke.
All four said they ran the 5K to show support for the Lake Forest community and for the OCSD.
The crowd cheered them on as the four took turns holding a Thin Blue Line law enforcement flag.
Rueles pushed one of his three daughters, Leilani, in a stroller. His other two daughters beat the team of deputies, who finished the 3.1-mile run, which serves as a fund-raiser for El Toro High School, in 34:10.
“I still finished in the top third of my age group,” Clarke, 50, said with a laugh. He is an insurance agent who has been a reserve deputy for one year.
Yoshimoto is captain of the OCSD’s Baker to Vegas women’s running team. She blasted out an email to B2V veterans and aspiring runners only a few days before the July 4 5K, and hopes to get a larger showing next year.
Yoshimoto, however, was thrilled to run alongside her partners.
“Running the streets with my brothers in green among the people we have sacrificed to protect, and seeing the people of Lake Forest running and happy and healthy, showed me that our work has been fruitful,” she said.
Moulson ran in last year’s B2V. He said he was happy to raise money for El Toro High. All of the proceeds from the 5K go toward purchasing educational supplies, upgrading technology and equipment, and supporting academic programs.
“It’s cool to support the community we serve and directly relate to members of the community,” Moulson said.
“Plus,” he said, “I want to be an example to my girls of what a healthy lifestyle is. The family that runs together, stays together.”
Clarke copped to scarfing down a donut after the 5K, noting that he made it back in time to join his family for a neighborhood Fourth of July gathering with his wife and three children, ages 17, 14, and 11.
“I think it’s cool she (Yoshimoto) came up with the idea to do this,” said Clarke, who plans to try to qualify for the OCSD’s B2V team in 2020. “It’s a great way for our agency to be recognized by the community.”
More than 900 runners participated in this year’s 5K.
Xavier Smith won with a time of 15:18. The last runner, Max Phrakonkham, came in at 1:11:10.
The run started at 7:30 a.m. at the corner of Lake Forest Drive and Serrano Road. A July 4 parade followed at 10 a.m.
After the 5K, the deputies did something they learned to love in the academy.
They dropped to the ground and did 20 pushups.
“We were met with much appreciation and gratitude,” Clarke said. “It was an honor to be a part of the event, and I hope we’ll repeat it next year with even more runners.”
Yoshimoto recalled how at the start of the race, a man walked up to her. She recognized him because she had placed a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold on him a couple months prior.
“He gave me a hug and thanked me for being there with him when he was in such profound pain,” she said. “He was doing well now, surrounded by his community, and being productive in life once more. I loved celebrating America as a community in that way.”