London runners weather the rain
Finishing with a smile, Craig Purdie of Centrica (4139) congratulates a co-runner. Photos by Ingrid Abery.
in style to join sold-out fields in 2008
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LONDON, July 9, 2008 — You didn't think steady rain was going to bother a crowd of Londoners, did you?
Colin Jackson cheers on runners starting the 22nd JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in London's Battersea Park.
A capacity gathering of 13,000 runners and walkers from 268 companies took part on the first night of the 22nd running of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Battersea Park. It may not have been a night to wear your brand-new trainers, but many felt the steady showers added to the excitement.
“It was quite exciting, actually,” said Victoria Carrington, who works in the Business Assurance division of the British Broadcasting Company. “You are running through the mud, so it makes it a bit more interesting. And I didn't need anything from the water stations ... the rain took care of that.”
Dangerous winds and lightning forced a cancellation of one Corporate Challenge race here in 2003. The weather on this evening wasn't nearly as ferocious, and sport-minded Brits weren't going to miss this race and party.
“It's just brilliant getting so many people here together,” said Nuri Bodur, a technology finance specialist for De Lage Landen. “If I was out running on my own I probably would have quit before the 1K mark. It is exhilarating running in a swarm of people, and it just makes you want to continue. And we are certainly used to weather like this.”
The conditions were ideal for Lara Bromilow from HSBC. The 25-year-old product controller improved her time by 70 seconds from 2007, and elevated herself from a third-place position to the women's overall winner. Her time of 20:40 bested Diane Moore of the South Oxfordshire Council by 11 seconds.
“I've been training more consistently, running to work three times a week and getting to the track regularly,” Bromilow said. “I ran a good 3K this weekend (in Liverpool) and I felt confident coming in.”
It was Bromilow's first time earning a Tiffany Award as a Corporate Challenge champion - the same for Andrew Rayner of Runners Need. The 26-year-old — a former scholarship runner at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana — outkicked defending champ Benjamin Noad and broke the tape in 17:31 to Noad's 17:32.
Noad is marketing manager at Runners Need, a chain of UK running specialty stores. So while he might not be thrilled about surrendering his title, he will be glad that his firm retains the crown.
“Ben's a great runner, he has represented Great Britain in international competitions,” Rayner said. “He's a little injured now, and I'm getting healthy after dealing with a ruptured plantar fascia in college. The health was the difference.”
Talents like Bromilow and Rayner were sent off over the 5.6-kilometer course by British sporting royalty. Olympic medalists Steve Backley (bronze in the javelin at the Barcelona Games in 1992, silver in both Atlanta '96 and Sydney '00) and Colin Jackson (silver in the hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Games) were both on hand representing event beneficiary SportsAid.
Specifically, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry to SportsAid's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), which provides aspiring world-class British athletes with a tailored package of coaching, lifestyle and physiotherapy support. The Corporate Challenge has supported TASS the past four years, with very tangible results.
“At the Beijing Games next month, there will be 25 athletes from Team Great Britain who directly benefited from Corporate Challenge funds directed to TASS,” said Tim Lawler, CEO of SportsAid. “And the Paralympics are approaching 40 athletes. The Corporate Challenge participants should realize they are playing a significant role in the success of British athletes.”
Women's champion Lara Bramilow shares smiles at the award ceremony with British Olympians Steve Backley (left) and Colin Jackson. In right photo, Andrew Rayner of Runners Need wins the Men's title in 17:31.
Jackson was a beneficiary of SportsAid in his career, and he told the runners from the starting stage that the rain wouldn't be a problem.
“I raced once in Seville and it was 42 degrees (Celsius, approximately 107 Fahrenheit),” he smiled. “You will be able to handle this.”
That was exactly the attitude of Natalie Shamhoum of Wall Street Systems. She looked out her office window at mid-day, saw showers, and briefly considered bagging the event. Instead, she ended the evening with her own significant sense of accomplishment.
“I did the Corporate Challenge last year and I had to walk a couple of times,” Shamhoum said. “This year I didn't walk at all, I kept on. I'm very pleased with myself.
“It's such a nice atmosphere in a beautiful park. It is a pleasant jog, particularly the part that runs along the River (Thames). It's fantastic to come back to the marquees, and have a drink together and talk about how we all went on.”
Water cooler stories were shared by Alasdair Marnoch of Xafinity and Catherine Hardaker of PFK (UK), winners of the men's and women's Most Senior Executive races, respectively. Capgemini didn't have front of the pack runners, but they topped the field creatively, being voted online as the winners of the T-Shirt competition. The IT services company will receive a donation from the JPMorgan Foundation to allocate to the charity of its choice.
The sold-out field of entrants marked the seventh capacity city for the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series. Johannesburg, Singapore, Chicago, Frankfurt, New York and Boston also played to full houses.