An hour before race time at the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run, United States Navy veteran Runar Polluson was already strapped in and ready to go. Polluson, who served in the 1980s, represented the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and rode the race lying down in his bicycle.
“I can’t walk well because of a disability that I incurred while in the service,” Polluson said. “For those of us that have some disabilities, being able to do this type of thing is what makes us feel alive.”
Bayfront Park felt alive Thursday night, transformed into a tent city as 26,626 runners representing 860 companies participated in the annual Corporate Run.
While all of the tents were white, the participants’ T-shirts created a collage of color on the course. The University of Miami brought the most runners to the race, providing more than 1,000 neon-orange-clad participants, many of whom waited in line for pre-race massages and photo shoots.
Bright orange was not reserved for the “U,” however.
“Our company color is orange,” Ascendo corporate recruiter Spencer Lyon explained. “I decided to just represent.”
Lyon’s costume affected his running pace. He wore a full-body orange suit and painted the company’s logo onto his chest.
“I’m not going to run really, really hard,” Lyon said. “It’s just going to be nice and easy.”
Many runners who do not reach the leaderboard follow Lyon’s game plan, taking the race nice and easy. The most important competition for some of them is not even the race itself, but rather the T-shirt contest.
Brent Del Rosario, the art director at ICO Uniforms, designed his company’s “Run ICO” shirts, which paid homage to hip-hop group Run-D.M.C.
“I was listening to Run-D.M.C., and I thought it was really funny,” Del Rosario said of his moment of inspiration. “I pushed one concept, which was this, and they loved it.”
Another clever shirt came from the law firm of Clark, Robb, Mason, Coulombe, Buschman and Charbonne.
Yessica Rosales works in accounting at the firm, and she proudly sported her bright green shirt with the phrase, “If you are reading this, I’m not last,” on the back.
Rosales said her goal for the event was to “have a good time as a firm and just try to make it to the finish line.”
Some runners were motivated to finish by T-shirts, but others had culinary rewards awaiting them after the run.
“That’s to be devoured afterwards,” Jessica Marchetti, the human resources manager at Silver Sea Cruises, said before the race as she motioned to a four-foot-long sandwich.
For many South Florida companies, the Corporate Run provides an opportunity to show company spirit and socialize with colleagues. For Polluson and other participants with physical disabilities, the run is more than an athletic event.
“I think it’s great that we’re able to participate in mainstream activities like this,” Polluson said. “The community at large accepts us to be able to do these things.”