Warm smiles contrasted with starting conditions cold enough to force one
runner into lowering his fleece ear flaps at the most heavily attended San Francisco JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge since 1990.
San Francisco runners warm up
to Corporate Challenge at Crissy Field
Results | Photo Gallery | Shutterfly Gallery
Runners from some of the 233 companies competing in the 23rd San Francisco JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge pack The Sports Basement for a cozy post-race dinner and awards ceremony.
SAN FRANCISCO, September 19, 2007 He wasn't dressed for the weather. After all, winds in the Bay Area were so strong on this day that the Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry was cancelled, creating jams on other public transportation. When the sun began to set, the temperatures were in the low 50's with bone chilling gusts.
But there was JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge event volunteer Vince French, eschewing a jacket, sweater or other warmth for a threadbare t-shirt. But not just any t-shirt. One from the very first Corporate Challenge in San Francisco, held in 1983.
It was down at the Embacadero then, remembered French, with about 1,000 runners (1,300 precisely). Even with that small number, it caused a big traffic jam. This site is much better for so many reasons, and I'm really glad to see the event doing so well. It has always been one of my favorites to volunteer at, so that's why I wore this shirt. To show that I was there at the very start.
French has witnessed lots of changes with the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
After eight years of steady growth, The Loma Prieta Earthquake shut down the Corporate Challenge for two years in the early 90's. When it returned, in 1993, it was held at Aquatic Park, near Fisherman's Wharf. A hot spot for tourists, maybe, but the locals hardly flocked.
In 2002 with attendance for the Corporate Challenge stalled at about 2,500 the decision was made to move to Crissy Field on the Presidio, with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge. And now this 3.5-mile race is enjoying a renaissance.
Exactly 5,340 participants from 233 companies San Francisco 's largest crowd for this event since August, 1990 took part in the 23rd running of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. The runners and walkers withstood the wind and then compared times at a warm post-race party at the nearby Sports Basement.
Those with the best stories to tell were the individual winners Konrad Knutsen of NAI BT Commercial and Katy Hollbacher of Build It Green.
For Knutsen it was his sixth consecutive year finishing in the top five and his second victory in the past three years. His speedy time of 17:43 bested Ben Turman of Autodesk, who finished second in 18:10.
Hollbacher successfully defended her 2006 women's individual title, breaking the tape in 20:38, 19 seconds ahead of Lindsey Maclise of Forell/Elsesser Engineers. Hollbacher's time was actually 10 seconds faster than her 2007 finish despite a hellacious head wind the runners endured the final mile.
The outstanding crowd nearly 24-percent higher than 2006 did its part for the community as the JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry to the YMCA of San Francisco's Claire Lilienthal Learning Academy. The Y's President and CEO, Chuck Collins, was on hand to accept the donation from Peter Engel, Vice Chairman for the Western United States for JPMorgan, and the host of the evening.
As the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge, members of Infinera gather for a team photo at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
VMware, a high technology firm based in Palo Alto, had the largest company, with 220 participants. Its numbers have steadily increased the past five years and it was one of six companies that had 100 or more participants.
One of those six is one of the Bay Area's largest employers, Cisco Systems. Cisco had never entered the Corporate Challenge before, and projected five total entrants when registration first opened. It finished with 189.
My colleague Bruce Bastian and I emailed brochures to our buildings multiple times, and we worked with senior executives to solicit their support, said Dominic Chan, Cisco's company captain. The executives realized it was a great team-building exercise and got behind it.
I'm very grateful that my colleagues came out to this terrific event, Chan said. And, next year, Cisco will have the biggest team.
It's that type of spirit that has permeated the entire 2007 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. The Series has sent an all-time attendance record with more than 225,000 total participants at 12 cities in six cities on five continents. Only one event in the entire Series either did not reach capacity or had a crowd smaller than 2006. Roughly 35,000 entries were collectively turned away at capacity events.
And now it's time for the best of the best to meet. The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship will be held on Saturday, October 6, on New York 's Park Avenue. San Francisco was fully represented in 2006 and took home third place overall in the men's (Google), 14 th with the women (Gap) and seventh in the mixed (Genentech). With the quality of companies and competitors in this year's Crissy Field event, the Bay Area can expect equally good, if not better results next month.
(To comment on this story or suggest possible features for www.jpmorganchasecc.com please email Alan Tieuli at firstname.lastname@example.org )