Quarry Quest Returns

After A Two-Year Hiatus, CEMEX Brought Back One Of Its Signature Events. 

By Therese Dunphy

The CEMEX 5K Quarry Quest, held at its FEC Quarry in Miami, is back and better than ever. While the pandemic caused a two-year hiatus between races, the event returned on Jan. 28, with more than 400 registered runners or walkers and 100 volunteers on hand to ensure it went off smoothly and safely.

“We felt like it was time to put it back in the mix,” explained Jenna Emerson, communications and public affairs manager for the CEMEX Florida Region. “In 2018 and 2019, it was such a showstopper for us in terms of events that we do.”

Planning and Promotions
Planning for the race began last summer. Emerson said the lead time is necessary to work with vendors who provide financial support to help cover the costs of the event. Creating such a professional event is expensive to produce. In addition, vendors may help support the event with promotions, participants and volunteers.

CEMEX also works with a third-party events group, Split Second Timing, which specializes in races. It adds the expertise necessary to host a first-class event, Emerson said. They help with all of the technical aspects of the race such as providing bibs with embedded chips, handling the timing, and bringing the chutes and cones that frame the race route. While previous 5Ks had been held in December, this year’s event was moved to January. With volunteers helping to run the event through activities such as manning water tables, forming a cheering section or handing out medals, moving the event away from the holiday season made recruitment a little easier as fewer employees take time off work in January.

Building Support
For each race event, CEMEX selects a charitable organization as its beneficiary. In the past, local chapters of the Boy Scouts and the Special Olympics received the race proceeds as well as a $10,000 donation from the CEMEX Foundation, which is presented on the day of the event.

This year, the beneficiary is a Miami-based organization called Helping Others and Giving Hope. Emerson met Steven Ferrerio, the founder, a number of years ago when he was a 16-year-old boy soliciting sand donations for use in sandbags during hurricanes. The young philanthropist, who has been featured on the Kelly Clarkson show, set up the charity to help meet local community needs, with a focus on the homeless population. He also runs a mobile food bus, which was on site taking canned goods donations during the race.

“Steven has passion and compassion for the community. He really cares,” Emerson said, “and, because he’s a college student at Florida International University here in Miami, he was a huge help in generating support and working with us on this event.”

For producers considering such an event, Emerson offers some practical planning tips. First, go through the operation with both the quarry management and safety teams to make sure it’s a safe environment for the event. Next, grade the surface of the course to be sure it’s suitable for runners and walkers. Finally, work with a third-party specializing in races. 

From the community outreach perspective, CEMEX brochures and the web page include information about the quarry. At the event, CEMEX staged an area where community members could touch a truck and learn more about the vehicles and heavy equipment used at the quarry, such as a front-end loader. Each piece of equipment was displayed with a placard detailing information about it, such as its capacity, and the race emcee shared facts about the operation during the race. This year’s race medal features a dragline as a nod to the operation. Previous medals include front-end loader and haul truck designs. “Our medal is why some participants sign up to race,” Emerson said.

While the event certainly benefits the donation recipient and the local community the organization serves, it also has a significant impact on staff morale. Emerson used words such as teamwork, camaraderie and joy to describe the staff attitude toward the event. 

Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at [email protected].

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