What do dental hygienists, hair stylists, museum curators, elevator technicians, yacht-charter agents, wine sellers and the Dutch consul general have in common with employees from 900 other companies?
They are all escaping their offices, lacing up their sneakers and converging on Bayfront Park in downtown Miami to participate in Thursday’s 30th annual Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run. With a record number of 27,700 registrants, the celebration of the adage “work hard, play harder” has never been bigger.
Baptist Health once again has the largest team, at 2,800 runners and walkers. But plenty of teams will be racing the three-mile course with fewer than a dozen members.
The Consulate of the Netherlands will send all nine people from its Brickell office to the starting line on Biscayne Boulevard. The Corporate Run coincides with the country’s Sport Week, which encourages exercise, and culminates in King’s Day, the national holiday marking King Willem-Alexander’s April 27 birthday. The king is a soccer and field hockey player who also completed a historic speedskating tour on frozen canals and lakes.
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Look for the Dutch team in their orange shirts. Consul General Natalie Olijslager-Jaarsma is an avid runner.
“Everyone wants to finish ahead of their colleagues,” said Maarten Willems, administrative officer for the consulate. “The deputy would like to finish first but the consul general is usually faster.”
Afterward, the group plans to hydrate with Grolsch beer.
“The Corporate Run has been an item on our staff meetings agenda for months,” Willems said. “Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports initiatives that are good for health, good for the mind, good for the spirit of the office. It’s also a good way for us to interact with the local business community.”
The Perez Art Museum of Miami team has been preparing for the Corporate Run not only by holding a healthy employee competition similar to “The Biggest Loser” show, but also by having weekly “Run Club” training runs along the baywalk from the museum to Brickell.
“With the opening of Museum Park and more connectivity along the baywalk, downtown Miami has become a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors, live, work and play,” said PAMM Interim Director Leann Standish. “Certainly our visitors are loving the waterfront access and the run club is one way that the staff is able to enjoy it as well.”
Dr. Jose Bushdid, a Coral Gables dentist, will lead a team of 15 this year.
“Dr. Bushdid is in great shape and we’ve got several people who are just starting out as runners,” said office manager Jessica Machado. “It’s really fun and promotes camaraderie.”
Teach for America, which recruits and trains young teachers, will have two dozen entrants in the race, including Jasmin Calin, a first grade teacher at Jesse J. Elementary in Little Haiti, and Zachary Malter, a literacy teacher at Miami Jackson High.
Switchboard Miami, which provides crisis counseling, has fielded a team of 18.
A team from France, Usse Asso, which holds running camps, came all the way to Miami to be part of and learn more about the Corporate Run phenomenon.
Employees at the SeaDream Yacht Club, which runs cruises and charters on two small ships, are out for bragging rights – among each other and with other cruise companies.
“We kind of egg each other on,” guest relations manager Adrienne d’Annunzio said. “I’m the only woman on staff who is running; all the others are walking, so I’m supposed to show up the men, but I have not been able to do so in the past.
“The Corporate Run is always like old home day for the cruise industry, which is very incestuous because people tend to work for one cruise line, then another. We go find people in their tents and catch up on all the news and gossip. It’s as much a social occasion as a fitness event.”
As for the walkers, d’Annunzio instructs the slower participants from her team to follow race etiquette and line up according to their expected pace, in the back, behind the runners. She wishes more team captains would enforce those rules.
“The race has gotten so large, and the slower people are not controlled, that it becomes difficult to get out of the pack,” she said, echoing other runners’ concerns. “It’s almost hazardous because you are running up on the heels of people walking five abreast or stopping abruptly, so you have to jump up on curbs and sidewalks to get around.”
Eddie Suarez, the Corporate Run’s technology director, said organizers do their best to instruct captains and organize participants in the starting corrals. Last year, of the 25,600 registrants, 18,000 participated.
“Every year we see people standing in the front who obviously won’t be running five-minute miles and we have to tell them they’re going to get trampled,” Suarez said. “It’s not the type of event where you’re necessarily going to run a personal best, but there are lots of people who want to race. They’re saying, ‘If I lose to so-and-so, I won’t be able to show my face in the office on Friday.’ There is fierce competition among co-workers.”
Last year’s CEO winners were Michael Marston from Tiger Direct and Romaine Seguin from UPS Americas region.