Every city has its traditions – stretches of time when local colors shine a bit brighter and excitement fills the air. For Tampa, Florida, that vibrant occasion is Gasparilla – a Mardi Gras-influenced celebration centered on mythical pirate captain Jose Gaspar who is rumored to have operated in the area.
Everyone agrees that the Pirate Parade (the third largest such event in the U.S. today) is the main event, but the truth is that Gasparilla has morphed into more of a season than a standalone holiday.
For almost a decade now, Protiviti Tampa has joined in the fun by participating in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. The race, which includes a 5K, 8K, 15K and half marathon, has been a staple of the community since 1978 and has raised more than $4.4 million for local youth and running charities since then.
This year, Protiviti Tampa and alumni teamed up in the GTE Financial Corporate Team Challenge, ultimately sweeping the competition taking first place in the men’s, women’s, and overall 5K races.
According to alumna Zendarette Bird, the best part about the race is teaming up with colleagues and motivating one another: “We meet beforehand so we can start the run together, but everyone runs at their own pace. Some people with kids do the stroller walk and there’s some more competitive folks trying to beat times. When you find your group running at your pace, you motivate each other to keep going.”
But it’s not just about the Saturday morning race. It’s a weekend-long event starting with the annual Friday night “carb-up” dinner with the team’s families and, unique to this year, ending with a post-race celebration on a boat organized by MD Bill Thomas.
“It was my first year running the event as an alum. I was excited to be invited back and see familiar faces I’ve worked with closely over the years,” says Zendarette. “What better way to spend a Saturday morning?”
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