Pete Pries (356) and Michael Huang (281) are among the more than 220 runners from VMware who started the 2007 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
With title-winning team, most entries
VMware had a year to remember in 2007
VMware runners display team awards after a presentation at the company. Below, Company Captain Craig Williams (right) receives Tiffany award for largest team from
Peter Engel, Vice Chairman for the Western United States for JPMorgan.
SAN FRANCISCO , August 27, 2008 – To say VMware had a big presence at the 2007 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco would be an understatement. As runners gathered for the start last year in the shadows of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, VMware Company Captain Craig Williams was on a stage a few yards away being awarded a Tiffany trophy for largest participation by a team.
When the race began a few minutes later, 223 bright orange t-shirts worn by Williams' colleagues contributed in no small measure to a San Francisco crowd of 5,340 entrants that represented a 24 percent increase over the previous year.
And, when runners began snaking their way back through the scenic Crissy Field course to the finish, those orange VMware shirts were again at the forefront. VMware would add to an outstanding year in the Corporate Challenge by winning its first team title, after years of coming close with top five finishes.
“The winning margin was not very much so we had a very suspenseful couple of days waiting for the official results to be posted,” recalled Williams. The wait was worth it. VMware's mixed team of Ole Agesen, Andy Tucker, Victoria Vallstrom, and Melody Davila combined for a winning time of 1:23:44, 10 seconds better than runner-up Sports Basement.
That team would go on to cap the year for VMware by finishing 8th in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship on Park Avenue in New York against the best corporate runners from six countries on five continents.
“ They said the atmosphere seemed like a mini-Olympics or other World class event,” said Williams. “The mixed team was really proud of their effort. They had all focused their training on JPMorgan for a month or more. I think part of it was the excitement of going to New York , and, most importantly, that they were all able to go. The whole VMware team was very thrilled that our mixed team performed so well.”
As registration continues for the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge – race start this year at Crissy Field is 6:45 p.m. on September 17 -- Williams is preparing VMware for another title run. However, he also says that, regardless of how the title competition plays out, the 24th running of the San Francisco event will be a winning experience for his colleagues.
VMware's Mixed team of (from left) Ole Agesen, Melody Davila, Victoria Vallstrom and Andy Tucker finished 8th at the Series Championship in New York.
“VMware has made this one of its yearly signature events,” said Williams, the Wellness and Community Program Manager at VMware. “People talk about it all year and wait for that day to come. One of the hurdles that I have worked to get over is to get all abilities of runners, joggers, and walkers to come out. People get scared off when they hear it is a competition. They worry that they might hurt VMware's chances of winning.”
Just the opposite is true, says Williams. In fact, one reason the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series is in the process of smashing its record for Series participation in its 12 cities worldwide in 2007 is that participation is encouraged by all fitness levels – from top runners to walkers.
VMware mirrors that philosophy.
“Part of the focus of my job is to foster fitness/health/wellness at VMware,” said Williams. “Almost 3 years ago the VMware Fitness (VFit) Boot Camp began. Its focus is in core strength and cardio improvement. I have one woman who went from a 16:00 /mile to a 9:00 /mile in two years. Her smile at the end of each JPMorgan event says it all.”
Williams has been a long-time participant in San Francisco 's Corporate Challenge, running on teams from Intel and HP before joining VMware. In many ways, the company's growth in the event mirrors what has happened in the San Francisco race, where entries have grown steadily since 2002 when the course was moved to Crissy Field.
Williams says that VMware was a small company in 2004 when it was acquired by EMC. He was asked to put together the company's first team for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.
Behind VMware's award for largest participation in 2007 were scenes of camaraderie at the race site. In left photo, Scott Monosoff (332), Stanley Ho (278), and Lilia Kim (293) await the race start. In right photo, Kellie Cheung, Christopher Chu Lin (232), and Loi Tran (388) celebrate after a successful run.
“I convinced 23 people to sign-up,” Williams said. “The next year, 2005, our squad tripled. Our Men's team took 3rd. I also committed one of my worst screw-ups ever! Our four women would have taken 4th but I did not submit a Women's team. We only submitted the men because we thought we had a shot at first. I did not realize that there were prizes for other placing teams. This is something that I will never forget.”
Fortunately, Williams and VMware got over the error.
“By 2006 we were back in force with 108 team members,” he said, adding that the Men's team placed 2nd and the Women were 5th that year.
“In 2007,” he said, “VMware had just come off a successful IPO and the excitement around the company was indescribable. The result: a huge team turn-out and incredible results.”
This year, Williams is not making any promises. VMworld, the company's signature user conference, is scheduled at the same time as the Crissy Field race, and even some members of the winning VMware Mixed team won't be able to make it back to defend their title.
“Of course,” he says, “that doesn't mean we won't have some surprise talent.”