The iFive:K is an evening race through the historic streets of Charleston, sponsored by Charleston Digital Corridor and Comcast Business Class. The race, which brings together Charleston’s knowledge-based business community for an evening of spirited competition, has seen massive growth since it began- from 250 registrants in 2007 to 800 this year.
Last year, PeopleMatter began handing out the “SPIRIT Award” to the team with the most spirit. In response, the CEO of Blue Acorn dressed up as a squirrel named Rocky, ran the 5k, and took part in a dance competition against our neighbor, Boomtown, in an attempt to win it all. Sadly, he lost in the last moment. This year, though, we planned for things to go differently.
The Video Contest
New for 2013, Benefitfocus introduced the iFive:K’s first video competition, “Lights, Camera, Run.” The contest is an opportunity for each team to show why they are the best, the fastest and most spirited. We loved the idea so much, we created two videos. The first uses historical footage to tell the tale of Rocky’s previous defeat, so the world can better appreciate his triumphant return:
The second introduces the fighter, the lover, the legend, and the comeback of Rocky in 2013:
After we told the world that Rocky and Blue Acorn were ready, all that was left to do was count the time until race day.
There’s Nothing Wrong With A Little Trash Talking.
And that’s exactly how race day began for Blue Acorn and Boomtown. Between graffiting windows, altering company signs to say different messages, and acts of aggravated Twitter assaults, things got escalated pretty quickly. And it was still only one o’clock.
By four o’clock, the Blue Acorn pre-party was underway. By five o’clock, Boomtown had found their way to the party and joined us on the field. Together, we played cornhole, talked pre-race strategies, and shared clif bars. For the time being, a peace treaty was struck between our two great companies. By six o’clock hundreds of members from the tech community were at the Blue Acorn Pre-Party.
At 6:30, runners gathered at the finish line to start the race, but first observed a moment of silence to reflect on the recent tragedy in Boston. The moment of silence technically ended, but the introspective crowd continued to stand solemnly. The next sound was the national anthem, sung by someone from our community. On the back of an old pickup truck, Rocky stood holding the American flag. The spontaneous act of patriotism managed to inspire a few chuckles from the runners.
With the anthem over, the runners slowly turned from rumination to a more pleasant and present feeling. With the help of ACDC and CDC president Ernest Andrade, Rocky fired the starting pistol and began our race.
A few ran to win. Some ran to push themselves. Others walked lethargically on, hoping that the “5” in 5K referred to the number of cupcakes awaiting them at the finish line. Some, however, raced against the limits of their technical abilities. I’m talking of course about the now famous Blue Acorn Mobile Mobile Development Lab, in which a Blue Acorn employee rode in a wheelbarrow and developed the first-ever-recorded mobile app in a mobile setting (that we know of). It even made the paper.
The Boomtown After-Party
Beer, food, a spectacular view of the harbor and great people – that sums it up pretty well. Oh, and of course the massive rainbow shining down on the technology community like a sign from the tech-gods that they would never again try to destroy us. Of course, it was probably just a rainbow.
Standing on the veranda of the Charleston Maritime Center, one could only look down and try to absorb all that Silicon Harbor had become. The air buzzed with conversation and laughter. An entire city of professionals had come together to enjoy the things we have in common, namely, our love of this city and a field that rewards innovation and constant improvement. Of course, all that brotherly love had to come to an end. A boxing ring in the center of it all reminded us of that. There was a SPIRIT Award that needed to be won.
After the winners of the race were announced, it was time to begin the dance competition. Words fail to express the majesty and hilarity our community was privy to that night. First came Telological’s Wizard of Oz clan, who, despite great costumes and a good effort by one very persistent flying monkey, lacked the choreography to stay in the competition for very long. In a flash, a pair of Gorillas from Boomtown arrived and mopped the floor with Dorothy’s red pigtails. Some people thought is was all over, but they were wrong. There was one more competitor.
From the crowd, a grey blur shot on stage. The music kept going but every heart in the audience skipped a beat. It was Rocky and he was there to dance. Flawless breaking, locking and popping. Free flowing turfin’, kerkin’, and memphis jookin. He was b-boying, toprocking, and throwing out powermoves like Optimus Prime. All the gorillas could do was watch.
“Round Two! Down to two!” the MC yelled. It was between Boomtown and Blue Acorn. The gorillas plotted in their corner, forming a plan. Confident, they approached the stage as the music began, but froze in their tracks when another Rocky arrived.
Even through their furry masks, one could read it on their faces. “Two Rockys? That’s not fair! We could hardly handle one!” Despite the protests, the Rockys didn’t care. The music had begun and they had already started dancing. Their techniques were supreme, their moves embodied grace under pressure, and pretty soon it was all over. The two gorillas could only do mental backflips while the Blue Acorn squirrels concluded their musical acrobatics. The MC conducted a polite round of voting by applause, but the winner was clear. Blue Acorn had won the SPIRIT Award.
Now that the whole thing is over, we look back on our incredibly silly behavior and wonder why we ever got so competitive over a sparkly shoe. Of course, we don’t regret it. We love our sparkly shoe, but more important than any award is the community we’re so lucky to be a part of.