SAN JOSE, CA --
The San Jose community came together early Sunday morning on June 29th to participate in the second annual Sharks Fitness Faceoff presented by Alaska Airlines. This year, a 27 year-old San Jose native, Eric O’Dea, was one of the many Sharks fans that participated. Growing up in San Jose, Eric has been a Sharks fan since the team’s beginning in 1991. Alongside Eric, over 2,800 equally excited Sharks fans of all ages helped promote fitness and wellness within our community.
In between two Sharks themed Zambonis, participants lined up for five different events that started and finished at the SAP Center. Dan Rusanowsky, Sharks radio analyst and beloved Sharks mascot, S.J. Sharkie, were on hand for the launch of each event. An early 6:45 a.m. start, sent off a group of over 100 50-mile bikers, including second year participant and former Sharks captain, Owen Nolan. Next up, in a sea of teal and black, San Jose soccer legend Brandi Chastain and Sharks play-by-play broadcaster, Randy Hahn, helped pumped-up the crowed by running alongside Sharks fans to complete the 10 km course through San Jose.
The 5 km race was by far the biggest event, and Eric was among the 1,300 runners. While many participants enjoyed preparing for the Fitness Faceoff, Eric in particular enjoyed serving as an advocate for healthy eating and exercise. Over the past six years, Eric found that his dedication to a healthy lifestyle has helped limit his medications for Down syndrome in addition to losing 50 lbs.
The last two events included the 20-mile bike ride and the Kids Fun Run. Over 200 bikers enjoyed a leisurely ride through extended areas of San Jose, getting the opportunity to pass by the Sharks Foundation’s KaBoom! Playground on Payne Ave built last March. Last, but certainly not least, the Kids Fun Run was a unique experience for kids to proudly display a participant’s bib and complete a .2 km course around the SAP Center.
Underneath a balloon arch of teal, black and orange, all 2,800 participants crossed the finish line with a smile on their face as they received their one-of-a-kind Sharks Fitness Faceoff Finisher’s Medal. Participants were then led into the Kaiser Permanente Health Festival. Bigger and better than ever before, the health fest featured over 25 vendors, including new attractions like the rock climbing wall and an inflatable obstacle course. These additions allowed participants to see fun, alternative ways to stay active and healthy. During the health fest, the top finishers in each age group were honored by S.J. Sharkie and Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky where they were awarded with a custom Sharks Fitness Faceoff trophy. Thanks to Alaska Airlines, the presenting sponsor, the top overall finishers also received a complimentary round-trip plane ticket!
After the event, the Sharks Foundation had a chance to catch up with Eric and hear about his experience. “My favorite parts of the event were hearing all the cheers at the finish line and mingling with Sharks celebrities and fans at the Health Fest after the race”.
At the end of the day, Eric and his 2,800 fellow fitness advocates made a statement in the name of healthy living and helped raise $70,000 for the Sharks Foundation. These funds will be distributed among local organizations to assist underserved youth and their families. The Sharks Foundation hopes that Sharks fans from all over will stay true to a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and looks forward to seeing many more participants at next year’s Fitness Faceoff.