A person standing posing for the camera - Tree
Henry Menendez, race director of the First State Bank Key Largo Bridge Run, with his wife, Julie, outlooking the Jewfish Creek Bridge. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

And they’re off! Come Nov. 9, runners of all ages and abilities will take to the start line in Key Largo for the 10th running of the First State Bank Key Largo Bridge Run presented by Keys Weekly (Woo hoo!). Going over the iconic Jewfish Creek Bridge outlooking the Key Largo Bay, it’s an event and a beautiful scene that runners, joggers and walkers don’t want to miss. 

Behind the scenes, Race Director Henry Menendez is hard at work as he looks to bring new elements while adding more excitement to the race. And he’s doing just that with a 4-mile run/walk and a half marathon course to tap into the national running market. Not only that, the finish line and festivities will happen at Rowell’s Waterfront Park.

Menendez is president of HNO Productions where he manages events from start to finish. He now owns the Bridge Run after becoming director in 2018 and has assisted in some big productions that include the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon Weekend and city of Deerfield Beach Fourth of July Festival.

To be the race director of its 10th year is all in itself very exciting,” Menendez said.  “I have always thought the sight of watching it all come together while seeing the public with such positive emotions is amazing.  Being the sole owner and management company of this race, just takes it to the next level.”

Full name? Nickname? Enrique Menendez. I go by Henry.

How you excited are you going into the 10th ANNUAL First State Bridge Half Marathon & 4-mile Run/Walk presented by Keys Weekly?  The bridge run exists because of this wonderful community and our partnership with First State Bank, Keys Weekly, the TDC, and all the other businesses that have really welcomed us this year.  Their assistance has really helped in making the transition from a 5K/10K to the 4-Mile/Half Marathon.

What about this event is special/unique? It’s the fact that this is my vision which I am creating and making a reality in Key Largo. For example, the beautiful start line with the special effects was an exciting moment for runners and spectators.

What will Henry be doing on race day?  Henry will be having fun with his community and guests from all over the world bringing to them an enjoyment that will hopefully last a lifetime.  

Coolest event you’ve organized? The coolest event I ever organized was my wedding.  From lit up fountains in the ocean to a customized dance floor on the sand, it was everything my wife and I wanted it to be and more.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Read a bible story and RUN!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I truly believe in God and because of Him all of this is possible.

When not planning events and bothering your wife, what’s Henry doing? Going out to eat!  My wife and I are very social. We love trying new foods and making friends.

Where’s your favorite place to go in the Keys? The ocean!  I believe the water is so soothing, just looking at it brings calmness.

Did you have a role model growing up? My mother was my role model growing up.  I have always tried listening to everyone I have met and tried to understand other people’s perspectives.  All individuals look at things from a different light, and understanding them gives me the ability to pick and choose right from wrong.  I believe role models change throughout your life.  I still have a role model now at an older age; role models are people we learn from and receive guidance to make us better individuals.

If you weren’t event planning, what do you think you’d be doing? I love what I do so I guess I would be retired.

What’s your dream vacation look like? My dream vacation has always been to stay at a bungalow in Fiji.

Where can people find Henry on the weekend? Everywhere!

Who’s the faster runner, you or your wife, Julie?Me!  I am training for a Half Marathon and run about 3-times a week according to my training schedule. I have started attending the Baptist Health Homestead Run Club on Tuesday evenings at 7:00PM when time permits and a new run club, Run for God, has started at my church, First Baptist Church of Key Largo, on Sunday evenings at 5:30PM to get people from the couch to a 5K/4-Mile distance.

Who’s a meaner cycler, you or your wife? My wife for sure, even though I rode 35 miles at the Dolphin Cancer Challenge this year.  My wife is a spin instructor and takes her job seriously.  She loves her spin class I know it can be tough, I have experienced it.  I believe her spin class makes her happy which is why she is so good at it.  She is committed, devoted, and understands her class.  From helping a newbie get on a bike to playing exceptional music for the pros, her class is a force to be reckoned with.

Finish these sentences…

My superhero power would be… helping people accomplish their dreams.  I have a friend that was a DJ for a long time and his dream was to play across the country.  Sure enough, I got a contract to setup races across the US and guess who I took with me to play at all the after parties of the race.  

My favorite spot to eat is… The Catch and The Key Thai Restaurant. I truly care a lot about Cathy. She is a wonderful individual and she is always going out of her way to help the community.  She is a kind, gentle soul with a positive attitude.  Man, Noon, Pum, Or, Pinky, and the rest of the family at the Key Thai have also touched my heart.  

Organizing the First State Bank Key Largo Bridge Run presented by Keys Weekly is… is exhilarating and self-gratifying.  The reason for my involvement in the event industry was to see so many happy people at a single point in time.  

Sign up and join the First State Bank Key Largo Bridge Run presented by Keys Weekly because…One, it is still warm even though typically the rest of the country is cold. Two, you are running over a bridge into paradise that is never shut down and overlooks the Key Largo Bay. Three, it is Veteran’s Day Weekend, which typically makes it a long weekend for some people.

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