On a day with ideal conditions, an enthusiastic Mark Lattimore of Tessy Plastics nears the finish of the 2011 Chase Corporate Challenge in Syracuse.
Companies celebrate the Summer Solstice
at 29th Chase Corporate Challenge in Syracuse
Champions times two: Fred Joslyn of Fleet Feet breaks the tape held by David Horan of Chase to win the men's title in the top photo, while Eileen Ferguson of National Grid breaks the tape held by Chase's Sandy Wolcott to win the women's title (below). Photos by Ken Huth.
SYRACUSE, June 21, 2011 — Most every city in the United States welcomes the Summer Solstice, but maybe no market is more deserving of comforting weather than Syracuse.
This Central New York market was belted with 179 inches of snow in the winter of 2010-11, easily winning the “Golden Snowball” award among Upstate New York cities Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Rochester. So when the 29th running of the Chase Corporate Challenge was inked in for the first day of summer — June 21 — it was circled on everybody’s calendar.
A superb crowd of 6,989 runners and walkers — the best turnout at this race since 2001 — from 261 companies were rewarded for their winter patience with an idyllic day and great racing and partying conditions at Onondaga Lake Park.
It was also a night to celebrate achievements in the workforce. Tessy Plastics, based in suburban Elbridge, engineers, manufactures, assembles and distributes everything from sophisticated medical devices to everyday consumer items. Company captain Ed Pietruniak couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for his employer inside the Tessy hospitality tent.
“Our sales were up 48-percent last year and 20-percent so far this year,” Pietruniak said. “We hadn’t entered a Corporate Challenge for a while, but this time we just had to be out here to show how proud we are to work at Tessy and how happy we are to be part of this business community.”
Pietruniak looked across Onondaga Lake Park to the Welch Allyn tent, noting that the medical diagnosis equipment firm was a client and that there were plenty of other business relationships in the event. “This is a perfect venue for us to have a great time together, meet some other people in a social environment, and do something good for the community,” Pietruniak said.
You couldn’t miss Tessy’s employees, decked out in bright orange t-shirts with “Production Runners” stamped on the front. “We’re all production runners,” Pietruniak said. “We’re constantly on the move producing for our clients.”
The productivity on the race course by the top runners was also superb. Fred Joslyn of Fleet Feet earned his first Chase Corporate Challenge title, breaking the tape in 16:58, just three seconds off the course record of 16:55 set by Mike Melfi in 2000. The 2010 champion, Andrew Foxenberg of U.S. Materials Handling, was second in 17:28 and Chip O’Hara of First Niagara third in 18:05.
Joslyn, an East Syracuse resident, made national running news in February when he won the Rock ’n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon in 2:18:49, automatically qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston.
“This is speed work,” Joslyn told Syracuse.com after the race. “The focus is getting ready for the Olympic trials. My plan for spring and summer is working on my speed so in the fall, I can really ramp up the mileage and try and qualify for the Olympics. That’s the ultimate goal. I’m on the bottom of the list (of the marathon qualifiers). I’m looking ahead. It’s a nice spot to be in because I’ve only got one way to go, which is up.”
Eileen Ferguson of National Grid was the women’s champion in 20:39. The name may be momentarily unfamiliar to you, but she has plenty of familiarity with the winner’s circle. She had won two Chase crowns running as Eileen Combs. Ferguson outdueled Kelsey Wessel of CDM, who ran a solid 20:48. Kristin White, a six-time champion, was third in 21:31.
“I just took it out in a comfortable pace for myself and just kept going,” Ferguson told Syracuse.com. “No one caught me, thank god, because I was tired.”
Members of Anaren Microwave gather for a pre-race photo at the 2011 Chase Corporate Challenge in Syracuse.
The beneficiary of the evening was Syracuse’s Child Care Solutions; a not-for-profit founded in 1975 to coordinate, assist and strengthen child care services and provide information and resources to parents, providers, employers, and community leaders who seek solutions to their child care needs. Represented at the race by Executive Director Peggy Liuzzi, Child Care Solutions is committed to making child care work for families and child care providers in Onondaga and Cayuga counties.
Syracuse University proved that its proficiency extends beyond the classroom and the basketball court by registering the largest team — 378 entrants strong. Tops Friendly Markets was an impressive runner-up with 350, and Wegmans was third with 320. St. Joseph’s Hospital (135), Crouse Hospital (123), SRC (111), Onondaga County Dental Society (101) and Welch Allyn (100) all had triple-digit squads.
Peggy Liuzzi, Executive Director of event beneficiary Child Care Solutions, helps dress up the Child Care tent before the Chase Corporate Challenge in Syracuse.
For Tops, the turnout was doubly gratifying. Many locals faced an uncertain future early in 2010 when the P&C Supermarkets chain dealt with bankruptcy. The Buffalo-based Tops purchased the company, and the Corporate Challenge has played a key role in bringing the two entities together.
“The Corporate Challenge is very important to our culture,” Tops CEO Frank Curci told Donnie Webb of the Syracuse Post-Standard. “It’s a way for us to strengthen the Tops community and focus on the health of our associates while having fun. We’re excited about this year’s event, and look forward to growing the Tops Corporate Challenge in years to come.”
There was competition in cyberspace also, as Cortland Regional Medical Center and Healthway Home Products were voted the winners in the T-Shirt competition. For the first time, the attire worn by companies was judged in online voting at www.facebook.com/syracusecorporatechallenge. CRMC and Healthway edged out Le Moyne College and Crouse Hospital for the award and will both receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
The 35th year of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series continues on back-to-back nights in two weeks when the 25th running of the London J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is conducted July 6-7 in Battersea Park.
(For comments on JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series features, or suggestions for feature stories, please contact Alan Tieuli at email@example.com)