Wedding-planning visitor, lifeguard win Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run

Planning a wedding is something couples take seriously — for Evan DeHart, running is something to be taken seriously, too.

Jillian Kenney rescues people and keeps the beaches safe for a living — she’s also a pretty decent runner.

DeHart managed to win the Mercedes-Benz Fort Lauderdale Corporate Run on Thursday by finishing the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes and 18 seconds. Not bad for someone who decided to fit the race into a busy and important visit.

“My fiancée and I were trying to plan a trip around this time to look at wedding venues because we want to get married around here,” said DeHart, who is an assistant project manager with Moss & Associates, a construction management firm. “It just so happened that the race was pretty close to when we wanted to fly here, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we just make a long weekend out of it and do the corporate run?’ Because I’ve done it like the last five years.”

Even though this was the first time Kenney had participated in the popular run — which drew a record 7,668 entrants representing 293 companies — she won the women’s division. She is a lifeguard with Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue and ran track at the University of Miami.

Kenney’s time of 20:21 was actually the second-fastest in her division behind Bobbette Stewart, but she was the official winner because Stewart ran as a guest of Balfour Beatty Construction and only full-time employees are eligible. This marks the second year in a row that a female lifeguard won (Dania Beach lifeguard Alice Henley was the 2014 winner).

“I love being outside and the breeze was nice, but I’ll take the heat and humidity any day because I’m a Florida girl,” Kenney said. “I don’t really run races that often, so I’m happy with my time. I do lifeguard races, paddling, swimming and rowing.”

Don Wennerstrom of Running Wild was the top male CEO finisher, with a time of 18:44, and Erica Gulrich of HCA East Florida (21:31) was the top female CEO.

The race is the first of an annual three-city series, with the second race scheduled for April 15 in West Palm Beach and the third on April 23 in Miami. That will mark the 30th anniversary of the original race.

However, it’s another first that made Thursday night special, as it was the first Fort Lauderdale race to be run without race founder Hans Huseby in charge. He passed away this past Nov. 29, and his wife, Laurie, was joined by her son J.P. and a big group of supporters to make sure this race went off without a hitch.

“It’s just very emotional for all of us, but we’ve got to obviously carry on,” Laurie Huseby said. “He’s taken care of a few things for us from above, like the weather. It’s really tough without him. … I think everybody’s going a little bit more to bat this year because of Hans. It’s really touching.”