Chris Shaw (101), Olivia Ho (355), Sonya Van Beek (353), Emma Brown (358) and Lisa Bowman (352) join teammates from Commonwealth Bank for a post-race photo. Phil Carrick and Stacie LeGrecca - Carrick Visions.
Sydney brings 34th year to splashy finish;
Ilakovac, St. Lawrence defend titles
A beaming Andrea Ilakova breaks the finish line tape to win her third straight title at the Sydney J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. Below, men's champion Ben St. Lawrence is interviewed before defending his title in a time of 16:22.
SYDNEY, November 10, 2010 – Rob Whitfield, Group Executive for Westpac, has participated in every J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge conducted at Sydney’s Centennial Park, dating back to 2000. He had just a few colleagues with him that first year; more than 100 on this evening.
“Healthy body, healthy mind,” Whitfield explained when asked why Westpac so enthusiastically embraces the Corporate Challenge. “It’s a great variety of competitiveness and spirit. It’s in a fantastic location and it has become a can’t-miss event.”
A total of 6,950 entrants from 290 New South Wales companies would agree. That’s how many were gathered at a Centennial Park site that held up beautifully despite a driving rain storm two hours before the starting horn.
“That wouldn’t affect the Macquarie drive,” smiled Laura James, who recruited 215 entrants to Macquarie Group Limited, earning the Largest Participation Award. She wasn’t about to have her plans foiled by some precipitation. “Our people are competitive by nature, so this is a perfect setting for them; rain or shine.”
Ultimately, the clouds passed and allowed for a proper ending to a terrific year. Sydney culminated the 34th season of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series, run annually since 1977. This year’s global celebration of camaraderie, team-building and community attracted 235,000 total participants from a record 7,925 companies.
“It’s a race where everybody is on equal footing,” said Perpetual CEO David Deverall, who covered the 5.6-km Centennial Park course with 150 of his colleagues. “Of course, everybody wants to beat the boss … but not all of them do!”
The runners to beat on this night were familiar faces. Crossing the finish line first was Ben St. Lawrence of ANZ in 16:22. He beat his 2007 winning time of 16:38, but was just short of the triumphant 16:04 posted last year. St. Lawrence is one of Sydney’s finest runners, having won virtually every local distance race of importance. But the Corporate Challenge holds a special place for him.
“It’s more than competition here,” he said. “It’s about bringing together colleagues and displaying your collective pride in what you do every day.”
Karlee Fancourt of OMB (4179) starts her run in Centennial Park.
Andrea Ilakovac of KPMG won her third straight women’s individual title, racing across in an outstanding 19:47. Ilakovac earned the 2008 title in 20:09, and last year ran away from the women’s field in 19:28.
Rounding out the men’s top five were strong runner-up Thomas Crasti of KPMG (17:12), Tom Highnam of Allens Arthur Robinson (17:52), Andrew Tuckey from IAG (17:53) and McGrathNicol’s Charlie Low (17:55).
Macquarie’s James – an excellent runner in addition to her team captain skills – finished second among the women in 20:13. She was followed by Lucy Starrat of KPMG (20:45), Sydney Water’s Susan Ireland (21:05) and Allens Arthur Robinson’s Alison Matthews (21:14).
The JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation through the Corporate Challenge to Football United, a not-for-profit organization that aims to improve the skills of people in diverse and disadvantaged areas through their love of football.
Football United’s Anne Bunde-Birouste was accompanied to the race by several students who benefitted from the program. J.P. Morgan’s Rob Priestley, the firm’s CEO for Australia and New Zealand, got into the mood by booting a few footballs into the crowd during the awards ceremony.
“We’re so proud of this event,” said Priestley, who was one of 760 representing J.P. Morgan, the owner and operator of the race. “It’s rewarding to provide something very meaningful and well-received by the business community and a worthy beneficiary.”
The 35th year of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series will step off in March, 2011 in Johannesburg. Check back to www.jpmorganchasecc.com in the coming weeks for the complete 2011 Series schedule.
(For comments on JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series features, or suggestions for feature stories, please contact Alan Tieuli at email@example.com)