Members of championship teams from Google and Sports Basement.
Defending San Francisco champions
reflect on value of
SAN FRANCISCO, August 9, 2012 — As San Francisco businesses prepare for the 28th running of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge next month, last year's winning teams from Google and Sports Basement reflected on what competing against the best squads from around the world meant to them.
In a word, they said, it's all about company teams.
“People often think of running as an individual sport, but experiences like these bring people together across Google, companies, industries, and five continents,” said Google's Matt Kane about competing in the 29th J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in Chicago on May 24. “This year definitely had an international Olympic feel to it with the London games on the horizon.”
Kane was part of a Google men's team that finished third in its highly competitive division. His teammates on Google's mixed team finished fifth, and Sports Basement's highly regarded women's team was fourth. The impressive showing gave San Francisco the best combined finish at the Championship of any city in the 13-race JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series that in 2011 attracted 248,168 participants, a record it is on pace to break again with three races remaining in 2012.
One of those races will be San Francisco's resurgent Corporate Challenge.
Sports Basement members gather for a group photo at the 2011 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
Scheduled for a 6:45 start on Wednesday, September 12 at Lot A on McCovey Cove near AT&T Park, San Francisco's 3.5-mile team road race is projected to easily reach its full capacity of 10,000 runners and walkers. With a beautiful course and a convenient location near many of San Francisco's businesses, the Corporate Challenge has been embraced by the city's corporate community. But, the race's defending champions say, the chance to participate as part of a team with your office mates remains at the heart of the event's popularity.
“I’m so grateful that JPMorgan Chase continues to put this on every year," said Ian Ballentine of Sports Basement. "It has become a tradition for our company and expands work-place camaraderie for everyone who participates. Sports Basement is filled with such amazing athletes and this event allows us to challenge one another while building company pride.”
After Sports Basement won the San Francisco women's team title by more than seven minutes here last September, the challenge of competing against the world's best corporate teams in Chicago in May meant holding weekly training sessions at the track. And, because the qualifying team was composed of runners from three of Sports Basement's four store locations, the race training sessions fostered new friendships among the women.
“More than anything, the Corporate Challenge Championships built a bond between the four of us,” said Ballentine. “We don’t get to see each other very often, working in different cities, so training, traveling and competing as a team was a great experience in itself. The experience definitely brought us closer.”
Ballentine, who has been participating with Sports Basement in the Corporate Challenge for three years, said being able to compete with her colleagues as a company team was one of the most memorable aspects of her Championship experience.
“To be able to participate in an international event representing a company that you stand for was such a phenomenal experience,” said Ballentine. “I believe in Sports Basement and its philosophy; I am proud to be part of the company team and am pleased to have shared that experience with my co-workers.”
A fitness guru who likes being able to include her colleagues in her fitness lifestyle, Ballentine said she hopes to see her team grow along with San Francisco's participation. She is recruiting everybody in the company from experienced runners to enthusiastic walkers. And, she sent out a challenge to her male colleagues.
“Every year our women’s team pulls through,” Ballentine said, “but this year I’d really like to see our men win!”
At Google, which, like Sports Basement, has won multiple team titles at San Francisco in recent years, the third-place men's finish and fifth-place mixed team result at the Series Championship did not just come by accident.
Google has an organized running team that trains and competes together in various events across the country and writes about some of their adventures in their informal team blog — google1-running.blogspot.com. The Corporate Challenge is an event the team looks forward to and trains for each year, eagerly anticipating which team members may place in the top spots and will have the opportunity to represent San Francisco at the Championships.
“An amazing aspect of the Championships is meeting other teams from across the globe and from different cultures who come together to compete,” said Kane. “For us, qualifying and training for the Championships has been a really cool tradition, and we feel lucky to have the company back our participation.
“As usual, this year’s San Francisco Corporate Challenge will be an awesome opportunity to meet and compete against some of the best runners in the Bay Area from other companies,” added Kane. “We are looking forward to supporting teammates who have a chance to qualify for the Championships next year.”
Qualifying teams from this year’s San Francisco event will participate in the 2013 J.P. Morgan Corporate Championship in a location to be determined.