The Columbia Restaurant Group has signed up to be the official title sponsor of the St Augustine Half Marathon weekend, according to Miami Tri Events, the creator and organizer of the event.
The Columbia Restaurant’s original location, which opened in Tampa’s Ybor City in 1905, is not only the oldest restaurant in Florida, but also ‘the largest Spanish restaurant in the world’. The 30-year-old St Augustine location is at the heart of the city’s historic district. Owned continuously by the same family since the first restaurant opened, the Columbia Restaurant Group has five other Columbia Restaurant locations in Florida.
The St Augustine Half Marathon offers participants an opportunity to ‘run in history through the streets of the oldest city in the United States.’
The race weekend is family-focused. On Saturday 15 November, there is a free Kids Race as well as a 5K, 10K and Health Expo – all designed to encourage and motivate families to exercise and stay healthy. The family weekend continues on Sunday 16 November, with the Half Marathon, health expo and a post-event celebration.
During the post-event celebration, the Columbia Restaurant will provide athletes with selections from its award-winning Spanish/Cuban menu.
Frequently named as one of the top 25 Florida restaurants by Florida Trend, the Columbia Restaurant is now in the magazine’s Hall of Fame. Additionally, the restaurant has won hundreds of other regional, state and national honours.
Keeping it in the family
The restaurant isn’t just recognized for its delicious food or its 265-page list of more than 1,056 wines. It has also been awarded the MassMutual National Family Business of the Year award for its dedication to the preservation of family values.
“Family is the core of everything Miami Tri Events does,” said Wilber Anderson, CEO of Miami Tri Events. “We believe that by combining the love of sports and a healthy lifestyle, we are creating a better tomorrow and initiating a legacy. Columbia Restaurants and Miami Tri Events share the same core values fusing together to bring the perfect concept for this race – generation to generation.”
“I opened the Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine more than 30 years ago,” said fourth-generation owner and President Richard Gonzmart. “I moved my family to St. Augustine from Tampa. I have great memories of the city and its residents, and I’m delighted that we can be the title sponsor of this race weekend.”
Gonzmart is a veteran finisher of numerous marathons, including Boston, New York, Chicago, Marine Corps, LA and Tucson. He combines his love of running with his avid fundraising efforts on behalf of cancer research and awareness.
For the St Augustine race, Gonzmart has created Richard’s Team, which will provide a maximum of 100 runners a number of exclusive benefits in exchange for either a US$500 or a US$1,000 donation to the Gonzmart Family Foundation, which will forward 100% of the donations to the Moffitt Cancer Center’s prostate cancer research.