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  • Patti Sponsler

You Can't Unsee Shark in the Park 5K

Once you spot it on the Running Zone race map, you really can’t unsee the ominous shark fin shape that makes up most of the first mile of the Shark in the Park 5K.


Nor can you forget the lore behind the 3.1-mile event that starts tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. at Gleason Park in Indian Harbour Beach.


The family-friendly feet fest will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the catch and release of ‘Sushi’, a 3 1/2-foot female baby bull shark, who mysteriously appeared in the freshwater pond in Gleason Park in 2014.


The zaniness that ensued between the first Sushi sighting and her capture and release into the Indian River Lagoon three weeks later was made up of hundreds of inquisitive lookie-loos, wannabe Jaws captains and all the media types -including national -who thronged Gleason Park.


The colorful drama was brilliantly and hilariously penned by Rick Neale for Florida Today. The photos that accompanied the story were shot by Tim Walters whose wife, Charlotte, will be racing tomorrow.


The annual 5K Sushi celebration began in 2015 and was upended by Covid in 2020.


“We wanted to bring our community back together around this race,” said Kristin Cusimano, who is not only the 5K race director but is also the Recreation Director for Indian Harbour Beach. “All of the proceeds will be put back into improving community programs, the pool and the park itself.”


According to the Shark in the Park 5k Facebook page, “It is estimated that each year over 65,000 visitors come to Gleason Park to enjoy the walking path, community center, pond, playground, swimming pool, and shaded areas that can be found throughout the park.”


“We try really hard to have a family-friendly vibe and this year’s race includes a kids’ run and a water slide at the end, Cusimano said.


As of late Thursday afternoon, about thirty-five percent of the 500+ registrants were Indian Harbour Beach residents.  


On-line registration is closed but you can register on-site from 6:30-7:15 a.m. tomorrow at the now sharkless Gleason Park.


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