Three years ago, when the hugely popular Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run gathered nearly 27,000 runners on Biscayne Boulevard to celebrate another year, no one could have imagined that in 2020 it would go virtual and by 2021, although back on the streets, would be down to 3,700 due to a disease called COVID-19.
But race producer FootWorks, its race director Laurie Huseby and its longtime sponsor Mercedes-Benz have hung on, and the 38th edition of the Miami Corporate Run 5K will be back up to 10,000 participants – and likely to increase again. next year – when he celebrates his 38th race at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at Bayfront Park.
“It’s like starting over,” said Huseby, who co-founded the race with her late husband, Hans, and has run it since its beginnings as the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenge in 1985. “All the big events started to grow from the ground up again. It’s all cleared up. People are looking forward to getting out there and doing things.”
The race, a three-city series that earlier this month had smaller versions in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, awards plaques to winning men’s (four), women’s (four) and mixed (two) teams. and two) in each of the 20 industry-related divisions. There will always be thousands of people partying before and after in over 300 tents spread throughout the park.
“The energy is just amazing,” said Erika Hechavarria, 33, captain of Kaseya, a Miami-based computer company with the second-largest team of 157 participants. Kaseya’s corporate caterer makes six-foot-long sub sandwiches, along with desserts and “adult drinks,” Hechavarria said.
“Last year was weird because it was so small compared to previous years,” she said. “I’m glad he’s coming back stronger. We are all back in our office, but this gives us the opportunity to be in a relaxed setting to socialize with our colleagues.
Thursday’s largest team, with just three more participants than Kaseya, is Miami’s Visa, 160 strong.
“We’ve been at the event for over 15 years,” said Dario Cutin, who attended the event for five years and is Visa’s vice president of communications for Latin America and the Caribbean. “I realize how important this event is for us in connecting with the community. It’s like a big party and I don’t want to miss the party.”
The party, so to speak, reached 28,265 attendees from 850 companies in 2018. At the time, Baptist Health South Florida was the largest company to compete, with 2,709.
The 10,000 at Thursday’s event – registration was halted – represents 496 companies. Huseby, who owns the FootWorks running store in South Miami, still offers a virtual option for those who can’t get out. The virtual event has fewer than 200 attendees, signaling a return to the streets.
Due to rising costs and fewer attendees, Huseby had to streamline the frills this year, such as the fireworks, confetti and stilt walkers that roam the park. But her store is attracting a lot more customers these days, which gives her hope.
“A lot of young people loved working from home when the pandemic started,” Huseby said, “but for me it was super isolating and I didn’t feel the energy. My goal is to make sure everyone everyone is safe and having fun. Our event is a real community fabric. It’s so hard to live with the uncertainty, but we all had to do it and readjust.
Jennifer Sanchez, captain of the 151-strong City of Miami Beach team, will participate Thursday for the sixth time.
“I’m very passionate about this race for several reasons,” said Sanchez, 34, a senior human resources specialist. “I’m very committed to wellness and this city has a wellness program and the event aligns with our initiative.”
Miami Beach internal and social media slogan: #OneTeamOneCity.
“Corporate racing brings everyone together in our city and we meet people we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Sanchez said. “All in love, I love it.”