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Nearly 27,000 runners take to the streets of Miami in ‘the healthiest happy hour in town’

2019 Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run

Nearly 27,000 runners competed in the 5th annual Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run Thursday, April 25, 2019, at Miami’s Bayfront Park.
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Nearly 27,000 runners competed in the 5th annual Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run Thursday, April 25, 2019, at Miami’s Bayfront Park.

About 90 minutes before the start of the 35th annual Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run late Thursday afternoon, a voice came on the microphone at Bayfront Park and claimed the event to be the “The Healthiest Happy Hour in Town.”

With 26,698 men and women from 882 companies participating in the 3.1-mile race that started and ended on Biscayne Boulevard, it was also the largest happy hour in town as walkers, joggers and runners took to the streets of downtown Miami for the event that’s been labeled as “Florida’s Largest Office Party.”

“It’s just such a winning combination because the company gets behind it, pays for their employees,” said race director Laurie Huseby, who owns FootWorks running store in South Miami and co-founded the Corporate Run with her late husband, Hans. “It’s like a Christmas party, but better than a Christmas party because you’re out there exercising, people are getting in their fitness, they’re connecting with each other on an equal ground.”

The first to cross the finish line was 25-year-old Dan Nestor, who was representing Intradeco, with a winning time of 14 minutes, 46 seconds. John Hinkle, from the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, had won the race in each of the previous two years but finished second Thursday at 15:24.

Ana Villegas, a 38-year-old representing Wells Fargo, was the top finisher among the 13,842 women in the race with a time of 18:54.

The race also included 248 CEOs, with 36-year-old Geoffrey Pool from Biscayne Bay Pilots finishing first in the CEO division at 19:13. Jacqueline Cuadra, a 30-year-old representing WE Family Offices, crossed the finish line first among female CEOs with a time of 24:20.

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Dan Nestor, 25, from INTRADECO crosses the finish line first during the Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run at Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Daniel A. Varela dvarela@miamiherald.com

About 600 tents were spread throughout Bayfront Park for the event, while participants and their families partied, played and feasted on an elaborate array of food before and after the race.

The two companies with the biggest teams were Baptist Health South Florida and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Baptist had a race-high 1,339 participants followed by Royal Caribbean’s 795. Baptist’s bay-view tent area was decorated with the company’s trademark pineapples.

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Ana Villegas, 38, from Wells Fargo is the first female to finish the Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run at Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Daniel A. Varela dvarela@miamiherald.com

Rounding out the top 10 were Jackson Health System (366), Miami-Dade County (334), Carnival Cruise Line (333), World Fuel Services (300), Visa Inc. (295), Gables Engineering (262), Mercedes-Benz (247) and Citibank (213).

“It’s just a great idea,” Huseby said of the concept that started the race in 1985 as the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenge. “Run with the people from work. You get your runner or walker from work who’s excited about it, and then they get other people excited. Then that person starts a fitness program and it changes their life.”

The Corporate Run awards medals to the top men’s, women’s and coed teams (four runners apiece, as submitted by team captains after the event) in 18 industry-related categories.

The event is open to employees of businesses, corporations, government agencies, financial institutions and non-profits — regardless of company size. The purpose of the run is to promote running and walking as a path to a fit and healthy lifestyle for people from all levels of corporate life, while also encouraging camaraderie in the workplace.

The night ended with a firework show over Biscayne Bay as participants hung around Bayfront Park enjoying post-race festivities.

“I think we’re at maximum. This is enough, don’t you think?” Huseby said when asked if she expects the event to grow. “It makes us very proud.”

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.


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