The 2010 Series year gets off to a sunny start in Sydney.
Fast times help Sydney launch
34th Corporate Challenge season
Results | Photo Gallery
Andrea Ilakovac of KPMG won in 19:28 (above), while Ben St. Lawrence of ING (below) won the Male title in an eye-popping time of 16:04.
SYDNEY, November 11, 2009 —The most enduring, popular corporate sporting/social event in the world moves into a new decade.
The 2010 chapter of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series — the 34th consecutive year for an event held worldwide — began tonight Down Under in Sydney as 6,848 entrants from 326 companies covered a leafy, 5.6-kilometer course in beautiful Centennial Park.
The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Sydney is still a relative newcomer — the first race in Centennial Park was held in 2000 - but it embodies the event's spirit of competition, team-building and camaraderie. The times were fast, participation was from companies large and small, and thousands gathered post-race for a party in the hospitality marquees on a picture-picture evening.
The individual winners were at their absolute best. Ben St. Lawrence of ING turned in a spectacular time of 16:04, nearly a minute ahead of the second-place finisher. Andrea Ilakovac of KPMG won even more decisively, clocking a 19:28 to earn the women's crown, 89 seconds ahead of her next closest rival.
Both were earning their second Corporate Challenge titles. St. Lawrence won here in November 2007 and Ilakovac was the defending champ.
St. Lawrence is no stranger to international competition. He will be racing in Japan later this month and vying for a spot on Australia 's Commonwealth Games team in April. But he appreciates the team element of the Corporate Challenge.
“Normally running is an individual thing,” he said after breaking the finish tape 58 seconds in front of Lachlan Chisholm of Railcorp. “It's great to come out here with ING colleagues and hopefully help them to a team win as well.”
Ilakovac knows full well how individual performance can lead to team success. Her first-place finish in Centennial Park last November led to KPMG winning the mixed team title. As a reward, she and three teammates will be competing in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in Johannesburg, South Africa on March 4, 2010. Her effort in this race gives KPMG a good shot at repeating.
“I really enjoy this run,” Ilakovac stressed. “If I can win here, there is hope that I can win against girls that train full time. All I wanted to do tonight is finish under 20 minutes. So I am happy.”
Ilakovac, who bested second-place finisher Siobhan McCarthy (20:57) of Adshel Street Furniture, will have the chance this weekend. She will return to Canberra for a couple of days in the office and then return to Sydney for the 3K Championships.
326 companies participate at Sydney
Host J.P. Morgan had 663 of its employees on the starting line, comfortably the largest company in the event. Macquarie had 421 participants, Rabobank 200, Lloyds International 136, Perpetual 118 and QBE Australia 103. The 326 total companies is a slight increase from the 309 attracted in 2008 and the second largest in the event history (344 companies in 2007 is the record).
“We are proud to be hosting this race,” said Rob Priestley, Senior Country Officer for J.P. Morgan Australia and New Zealand. “It is an exciting and competitive atmosphere and the evening always provides a great opportunity to build relationships with colleagues, peers and clients outside the office.”
The participants were running for !Football United! J.P. Morgan made a donation for each entry with the funds largely benefitting Granville South High School, among other initiatives. Granville South is J.P. Morgan's partner school in Sydney and the Corporate Challenge donation will allow !Football United! to provide the school with an empowerment and life-skills development program. It will be aligned with Granville South's curriculum areas, including training Granville South football teams for regional and state competitions.
“J.P. Morgan's support and involvement has not only helped run this program but their engagement has inspired others to do the same,” said Anne Bunde-Birouste, founder of !Football United!. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined an event like this supporting !Football United!.”
Giving back to the environment was also a central theme for the companies. As part of the Corporate Challenge's Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow initiative, participants were urged to take alternative transportation to the race site. According to data gathered during the registration process, 97-percent of the entrants planned to take public transportation, car pool, walk or bike to the race site.
Runners spill out in Centennial Park for Sydney's sun-splashed race.
Andrew Lennox of the Australian Securities Exchange (20:28) and Deborah Homewood of Pacnet (31:28) were the first-place finishers in the Most Senior Executive category, joining St. Lawrence and Ilakovac in receiving awards in signature blue boxes from Series sponsor Tiffany & Co.
The 2010 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge will remain on the Southern Hemisphere for the next event — the March 4 race in Johannesburg, South Africa. That will be a historic night as the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship will also be held at the Wanderers Club, the first time the Championship has ever been contested outside of the United States. This is part of JPMorgan Chase's long-term objective of rotating the Championship through the five continents of the Series (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America ).