Google's Crosby Freeman breaks the tape held by Chuck Collins, President & CEO of YMCA of San Francisco (left) and Bill Benz, San Francisco District Manager for Chase Retail at the 2009 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
Bid for Championship spot in Johannesburg
pushes top runners in San Francisco
Results | Photo Gallery
Lucasfilm company captain Kevin Uriu (left) shows a Star Wars light sabre to Peter Engel, Vice Chairman and Head of Investment Banking for the Western United States J.P. Morgan. Lucasfilm's t-shirt design had a Darth Vader theme. Rocky Arroyo photos.
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, 2009 — Crosby Freeman of Google noted that he has been lacking in motivation recently when it came to his running.
But Freeman had a spring in his step and a goal in sight on this beautiful night in the Bay Area. He and his Google male teammates were set on earning a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
“To be honest, it's pretty big,” Freeman said, referring to the opportunity to qualify for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in Johannesburg, set for March 4, 2010. The top men's, women's and mixed teams from all 12 Corporate Challenge cities will earn the right to travel and participate.
“A trip to Johannesburg sounds amazing, and to be able to represent Google would be fantastic,” Freeman said. “It's great that JPMorgan Chase would be willing to do that for companies.”
And Freeman came through big for his team. He covered the 3.5-mile Crissy Field course in 17:14 to win the men's individual title, easily outdistancing Christopher Mocko of Intuit (17:42).
Google did not have another men's runner in the top six, but Freeman noted that “we had three guys really tightly packed and we were gunning for the trip.” Complete team results are pending verification and will be posted on the San Francisco Results Page within a week.
The Road to Johannesburg will be hotly contested in the women's and mixed divisions. Sports Basement had two women in the top six (Tiffany Hall/Madeline Kieselhorst) and the fourth place male finisher (Andrew Bauer). General Electric had Lina Nguyen finish third and Amy Horst fifth among women. But depth will win out.
Genentech, which set a San Francisco Corporate Challenge record with 557 participants, poses for a large group photo prior to the race.
Lindsey Maclise of Forell/Elsesser Engineers won the women's crown, posting a time of 20:51 to beat Hall by eight seconds. Maclise was second in 2008 to her roommate, Brooke Wells of Adbrite.
“My time was better last year,” said Maclise, noting her 20:20 clocking. “The difference this year was Brooke not running. But I'll take the victory. This is an outstanding race with a lot of good competition.”
And while the front of the pack was enthused about the Championship opportunity, the entire field of 5,377 participants from 247 companies sent out a positive vibe. The weather was perfect for running, the Golden Gate Bridge was spectacularly visible in the background, and runners and walkers of all skill levels took part.
“It's a celebration of the Bay Area corporate community,” said Peter Engel, Vice Chairman and Head of Investment Banking for the Western U.S., J.P. Morgan. “We couldn't be prouder to host this race each year.”
This was the 25th Bay Area running of this festival of camaraderie and team building. Genentech, captained by Nicolas Pelletier, set a San Francisco record for Corporate Challenge participation with a whopping 557 entrants — more than 10-percent of the entire field.
Lindsey Maclisle of Forell/Elsesser Engineers breaks the tape as the first female finisher in 20:53.
“We internally used word of mouth, e-mails, posters, and participation in an open house event at Genentech's on-campus gym (to generate entries),” Pelletier said. “Communications focused on having fun together, the wonderful setting of Crissy Field, benefits to Team Genentech members, and most important the contribution to the worthy cause the event is supporting.”
The cause noted by Pelletier is the YMCA of San Francisco's Kids to Camp Program. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry that was ear-marked specifically for Camp Jones Gulch, situated on 930 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Genentech has supported the Corporate Challenge enthusiastically for several years, and last September excelled in the results column with its women's team finishing third and its mixed squad second.
“Genentech has a very progressive and generous outlook on health and wellness,” Pelletier noted. “We offer to all employees a free gym with a staff that sets up customized team-building events, and we also support special events outside of the gym. We have running, bicycle, and outdoor clubs and organize a corporate team in multiple events and races that raise funds for several worthy causes and support the community. The JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge is a very important event to Genentech.”
Adding a creative element to the race were the three companies judged to be winners in the t-shirt contest. Atlassian Software, BioMarin Pharmaceutical and Lucasfilm will each receive $500 to donate to the charity of their choice.
Lucasfilm's design cleverly incorporated Darth Vader, and the force was clearly with company captain Kevin Uriu. He initially projected 40 colleagues from Lucasfilm would take part, but successfully recruited 127.
“It was an infectious kind of thing,” Uriu smiled. “As soon as the first word came out on registration (in May), I shot out an email to our staff and got 12 people signed up. Every month I would send out an email, and interest just grew and grew. Interest exploded in the race this year.”
Uriu brings great humor to the race. When he accepted the t-shirt award from Engel on the award stage, he brought a Star Wars-esque light sabre up with him.
“I've been the company captain for Lucasfilm since 2006, and I guess people liked the funny emails I sent promoting the race,” he said. “It became my personal project. This year we had so many people it was almost like a second full-time job.”
Also representing their companies with pride were the Most Senior Executive winners — John Raguin of Guidewire (an impressive 19:32) and Meridee Moore of Watershed Asset Management (28:14).
This was the final event of the 2009 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series. The 2010 Series year kicks off on Wednesday, November 11 in Sydney, Australia.