Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run gives employees chance to bond

Vadim Kreynin will compete in the Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run for Ultimate Software, which has the largest team with 538 people.
Vadim Kreynin will compete in the Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run for Ultimate Software, which has the largest team with 538 people.

Vadim Kreynin took more than 650,000 steps for 18 days in March in a nationwide competition that was part of his company’s extensive wellness initiative.

“I was killing myself,” Kreynin said. “I had blisters. People were doing it for bragging rights.”

Kreynin, a computer programmer for Ultimate Software in Weston, had every right to brag, finishing second out of nearly 1,000 fellow employees who participated.

At 6:45 p.m. Thursday, he’ll take part in what he considers a much more enjoyable competition — the Mercedes-Benz Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run.

More than 7,570 participants from 297 teams have registered for the 3.1-mile event, the first of an annual three-city series that continues April 15 in West Palm Beach and ends April 23 with the 30th anniversary of the original Miami race.

Ultimate Software, captained by Mabel Cabrera, once again has the largest team, with 538 runners or walkers — remarkably, up by 200 participants from last year.

“We have one huge tent, the largest at the park,” Cabrera said of the 20-by-80-foot tent that TeamFootWorks technology director Eddie Suarez jokingly refers to as “The Compound.”

Said Suarez: “They would take more space, but we don’t have any more space to give them.”

TeamFootWorks of Miami produces the race, which begins near Huizenga Plaza at 32 East Las Olas Boulevard and awards medals to the fastest overall men’s, women’s and coed teams (each with four runners), as well as in 19 industry-related categories.

“It’s a lot of people getting together without the office atmosphere,” Kreynin said. “It’s employees bonding, drinking beer, eating food and relaxing. The Corporate Run gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of people from my company that I don’t know.”

Though the Fort Lauderdale event began in 1998 and the West Palm Beach race followed in 2005, runners in each of the three cities will earn finishing medals for the first time to commemorate Miami’s 30th anniversary.

“They’re beautiful,” said race director Laurie Huseby, whose husband Hans co-directed the series with her until he died of a heart attack in his sleep the night of Nov. 29.

Huseby’s son, JP, always played a large role in helping organize the race and now has even more responsibilities in his father’s absence.

“It’s getting a little too big for its britches almost,” Laurie Huseby, who said she still works 60 hours a week, noted about Fort Lauderdale. “This is a huge field this year.”

Evan DeHart, 29, who placed second last year and won in 2012 and ’13, is an assistant project manager with Moss and Associates, a construction management firm. DeHart moved to Galveston, Texas, but squeezed in the race after scheduling a trip to South Florida to plan his wedding.

“I’m definitely looking forward to running on my own turf again,” DeHart said. “I did my first internship with Moss in 2006, and that’s when I fell in love with Fort Lauderdale. There’s just a really good energy, really good vibe in this race. It’s fun.”

Cabrera, benefits manager for Ultimate Software, said her company, which pays the entry fees for its participants, gets “more and more people each year because everyone tells each other what a great time we have.

“Employees look forward to it. A lot of people get started with their running in this event and go on to run road races, even marathons. Some become triathletes.

“We never expected our team to become this big, but we welcome it.”