Scott Shaw is alone in first and a happy champion after winning the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge at Onondaga Lake Park on June 24. Holding the tape are Bill Dehmer, President of the Syracuse division for JPMorgan Chase, and Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Syracuse University.
Weather gods smile on Syracuse as
near-record crowd enjoys 26th running
Results | Photo Gallery
Syracuse was due a great weather day, and it got one. The day featured sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s, and a rainbow - albeit one created by the Liverpool Fire Department at a spray station enjoyed by David Kennedy of CCCS of CNY.
SYRACUSE, June 24, 2008 — Katherine Bloomer-Calabria is some kind of company captain. She was even able to talk her boss out of trip to the White House to attend the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.
OK, the latter statement is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Bloomer-Calabria directed a Syracuse University team that had 363 participants, easily the largest at the 26th running of the Corporate Challenge at Onondaga Lake Park. Among that impressive total was the University's Chancellor, Nancy Cantor.
“I understand Nancy had an opportunity to go to the White House with Syracuse's national champion lacrosse team,” Bill Dehmer, President of the Syracuse division for JPMorgan Chase, said. “She chose instead to come to our event. That's quite a compliment.”
A near-record crowd of 6,704 participants from 259 companies took part in the 3.5-mile team road race, and more than 200 firms took the opportunity to rent tents and hold their summer outings. None was bigger than SU's.
“This is a very important event for us, we like to get off campus and out into the community,” explained Bloomer-Calabria. “We have everyone here from the Chancellor to administrative specialists. We grew from 167 people last year and we're really proud of this.”
The growth of the Orange — known throughout the U.S. for its outstanding athletic teams — set the tone for the night. The Corporate Challenge spiked up more than 600 entrants from 2007, the first year the event was held in June.
And, following back-to-back years of hot conditions, the weather gods returned the favor on this night, providing temperatures in the low 70's, with light wind and no precipitation. It was the setting for an outstanding footrace.
Scott Shaw, representing SWBR Architects, won his second Corporate Challenge title, besting Mike Melfi of Jamesville DeWitt schools by a comfortable 63 seconds. Shaw's winning time of 17:32 bested a top five that included three other past champions — Melfi (18:35), defending champ Todd Halbig of Purcell's Paint (fourth in 18:47) and Derek Powers of Stickley (fifth in 18:55).
“When you break it down, it is a friendly match, but we all want to win,” smiled Shaw, 26, a former collegiate star at Clemson University. “It's a great crowd to finish in front of. I took control in the first mile but never took it for granted until I crossed the finish line.”
The women's champion was a familiar name in local circles — third-grade Fayettville-Manlius teacher Laurel Burdick, who broke the tape in 19:33. She starred at F-M High School under legendary coach Bill Aris, earned a full scholarship to run at Boston College, and now is back in town running with pride for her home area.
“This is a great running community and it does give me a lot of pride to represent it,” the 23-year-old Burdick said. “I had heard about this event growing up, knew it was special. I thought I would make it part of my training and winning while representing F-M makes it even more important.”
Burdick defeated a pair of former champions. Runner-up was the terrific Kristen White of Wegman's, who has multiple first-place Tiffany awards. She ran a 21:15. Defending champ Eileen Combs of General Electric was a solid third in 22:17.
Another winner was the men's Most Senior Executive champion Jon Soderberg, who crossed the finish line in an impressive 20:16. But the Corporate Vice President and Shareholder at Welch Allyn knew his individual award paled in comparison to the benefit his teammates received at the Corporate Challenge.
“We are a health care company and we try to encourage an active lifestyle,” Soderberg explained. “Our insurance premiums keep increasing and it can become a competitive disadvantage, so we invest heavily in the health and well being of our employees. We have fitness centers at each of our facilities. We do preventative screenings. And it's important to set a good example for the employees.”
Soderberg trained for the Corporate Challenge while he was on business last week in Europe, getting up at dawn for runs in Switzerland and Germany. He is also known to run on access roads in airports during flight layovers.
Nancy Kronen, Director of Development for the Salvation Army of Central New York, is interviewed by one of the four televison that telecast on site.
“I Just try and do something active every day,” he said. “I sleep better, work better, and help take care of my four kids better. It works for me and I want to lead by showing our employees how fitness can work for them.”
Welch Allyn did follow the boss' lead, entering 224 employees. There were many other impressive gatherings, including 209 from Wegman's, 183 from the Onondaga County Dental Society, 140 from St. Joseph 's Hospital and another 127 from Crouse Hospital.
And all the companies were running for a good cause. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry to The Salvation Army of the Syracuse Area and the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency.
First held at Onondaga Lake Park — in the village of Liverpool, just outside of Syracuse — in 1982, the event has become such a staple in community that all four local television stations broadcast the 6:25 p.m. race start live. The live coverage actually began at dawn, with Channel 9 out at the park interviewing Kevin Williams, one of the 103 participants from the POMCO Group.
“You earned a great night,” said venerable Channel 3 Meteorologist Wayne Mahar. “It is such a wonderful community scene here every year. The weather shouldn't interfere with it.”
Sharing the start stage with Chancellor Cantor was the Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney. And she was surely pleased that JPMorgan Chase's Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow initiative — focusing on a paper-free marketing program, shuttle transportation and thorough recycling — saved approximately 50 million BTUs, approximately enough energy to light a home for an entire year.
Creatively speaking, Cataract & Eye Specialists, the Central New York Community Foundation and Dupli Envelope & Graphics were the winners of the T-shirt competition and will each earn a $500 donation to the charity of their choice.
Laurel Burdick wins the female title in 19:33, breaking the tape held by JPMorgan Chase's Sandy Wolcott and Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney.