The Miami Heat’s loss was the Corporate Run’s gain.
Had the Heat beaten the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the team would be hosting an NBA playoff game Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, just a few blocks from where 28,265 runners and walkers (and their friends and family) will be gathered for the 34th annual Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run.
Yes, there were traffic contingency plans to help control what would have been even more gridlock than usual, but the Heat loss made life easier for race coordinators.
“It all worked out,” said race director Laurie Huseby, who began the event 35 years ago with her late husband, Hans. “This event has become such a fabric of the community that we would have made it happen either way. I had told people just to get there really early; but now, it’s back to the same old plan.”
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As for road closures, Biscayne Boulevard northbound lanes from Chopin Plaza to Northeast Fifth Street will be closed from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. All northbound traffic will be rerouted to the southbound lanes. Other neighboring roads will be shut down during the race itself, from 6:45 to approximately 8 p.m.
When the event began in 1985, as the Manny Hanny (Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust) Corporate Challenge, there were 1,300 entrants. The Huseby family owns FootWorks running store in South Miami and helped turn the race into one of the biggest corporate 5Ks in the nation.
The 3.1-mile downtown office party officially kicks off at 6:45 p.m., which means many of the participants will leave work early and begin to take over Bayfront 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 to watermelon and black tiger shrimp salad.
The two biggest teams — as usual — are the University of Miami and Baptist Health. The two have developed a rivalry over the years as to which brings more participants. Baptist is the winner for the second year in a row with 2,709 team members, and UM is second with 2,190.
Another annual battle takes place between the cruise lines. Norwegian, which had the biggest team last year with 616, is not participating this year, so Royal Caribbean is the cruise leader with 540, followed by Carnival with 512.
New to the top 10 this year are Miami-Dade County with a team of 363, and Jackson Health with 305. World Fuel Services has 270 members, Citi has 220, Gables Engineering has 193, and HBO Latin America registered 138 runners.
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 — with the help of event planner Barbara Whitehill — comes up with a theme and it goes all out.
This year, the theme is “Coachella,” and the tent will be transformed into a bayside desert music festival, complete with all sorts of props and photo backdrops for selfies. Team captain Beatriz Soriano, the office and human resources manager, has been working along with her committee for a few months. The firm has 40 runners registered, and 70 more attorneys and staff, plus their friends, are expected to show up at the party.
McDermott shares tent spaces E45 and E46 with Ryder, making it among the bigger gatherings at the event. This year’s party will be catered by Crepe Maker.
“It’s like putting on a wedding,” Soriano said. “We have a lot of fun with it. Last year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the firm. This year it’s Coachella.”
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 (190 at last count).