Thousands turn out for Corporate Run in Miami
When Laurie Huseby and her late-husband, Hans, were hired by Manufacturers Hanover Bank 35 years ago to stage the first Manny Hanny Corporate Challenge in Miami, they worried nobody would show up. Who, they wondered, would want to spend a weeknight running a 5K for their company?
Turns out a lot of people did.
More than 1,300 people representing 150 companies showed up to that first race in 1984. The Husebys, who own Footworks running store in South Miami, had no idea how big the event would become. Last year, more than 28,000 participants from 850 companies ran or walked in the race, which is now called the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run and has added events in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.
Close to 27,000 people from 855 companies are expected for this year’s race, which officially begins at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday at Bayfront Park, although pre-race festivities start a few hours earlier. Thousands of participants will leave work early and begin to take over the park by late afternoon. After the conclusion of the race, the runners, joggers and walkers celebrate in a 570-tent city loaded with catering ranging from paella to baby back ribs to sushi to crepes.
Downtown commuters should be aware that Biscayne Blvd. northbound lanes from Chopin Plaza to NE Fifth Street will be closed from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. The southbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard will offer two-way traffic and special attention will be given to entry and exit of Chopin Plaza. Biscayne Boulevard from Chopin Plaza south to Southeast Third Street, and several surrounding streets, will be closed from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
The run has been billed as “Florida’s Largest Office Party.”
The slight dip in attendance this year is because the University of Miami, which traditionally brought a team of about 2,000, opted not to participate this year. UM chose, instead, to do the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, a fundraising bike ride which helps benefit the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The 10 largest teams entered in this year’s Corporate Run are: Baptist Health South Florida (1,439 participants), Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (795), Jackson Health System (366), Miami-Dade County (334), Carnival Cruise Lines (333), World Fuel Services (300), Visa Inc. (295), Gables Engineering (262), Mercedes-Benz (247), and Citibank (213 participants).
Although the event is much bigger than it was three decades ago, it maintains the same feel as 1984, when Miami Runners Club president John Marshall wrote in their newsletter: “Participants stripped themselves of their corporate costumes and competed with each other on an equal basis. Stock brokers and Stock boys. Mail room workers and CEO’s, Policeman and county auditors. Sport was the great equalizer. What joy!”
The company known to put on the best tent party is law firm McDermott, Will and Emery, which has been participating in the Corporate Run for many years, as it is a favorite of chairman Ira Coleman. Each year, the company comes up with a theme and it goes all out.
Last year, the theme was “Coachella” and the tent was transformed into a bayside desert music festival, complete with all sorts of props and photo backdrops for selfies.
AvMed has a team of 96 participants, and the company covers the cost of registration and a Metrorail pass for the employees to get from their Dadeland-area office to downtown. The company hosted a prerace pep rally at lunchtime Tuesday with music and food trucks. The AvMed team will be wearing bright yellow shirts for the race.
“It’s a great way for our employees to come together out of the office,” said Leilani Pacheco, the AvMed manager of advertising, events and sponsorships.
Joseph Nunez, the public relations manager at Club Med, said the Corporate Run serves as a bonding event for employees and a chance to promote their vacation resorts to the South Florida community. They have been a sponsor for 19 years. This year, their 44 race participants will be wearing green and white shirts advertising Club Med Miche’s Playa Esmeralda, a new eco-chic boutique resort in Dominican Republic, just more than our from Punta Cana.
While the companies prepared for the race and their tent parties, Huseby and the rest of the race organizing staff spent the past week making sure they had enough tents, tables, chairs, security and portable toilets. Also, they have been checking the weather forecast.
“Lots of sun,” Huseby said. “Should be a great time.”