Finishers in the 2008 Johannesburg JPMorganChase Corporate Challenge show the spirit of a beautiful African evening, while another participant (center photo) supports the "Greener Tomorrow" campaign. Officials and participants embraced South Africa's "first green sporting event," part of a Series-wide campaign in 2008.
Johannesburg's 3rd straight capacity crowd
gives fast start to 'Greener Tomorrow' push
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Catherine Nkosi of Transnet Rail Engineering breaks the women’s finish tape, held by
Toby Lochner of SA Home Loans.
JOHANNESBURG, March 6, 2008 – This burgeoning South African city is in the midst of “load shedding,” which is the constant monitoring of electrical use with extended periods of shutdowns. Virtually all neighborhoods operate with no electricity at scheduled times during the week.
But the electricity – both literally and figuratively – was palpable at the fifth annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. The lights not only stayed on throughout the event at the venerable Wanderers Club, but the competitive and cooperative energy by the participants made this a historic event.
“This is the first green sporting event ever in South Africa,” JJ Matane, Chairman of Indalo Yethu Trust, said. “Our country is in the midst of a very important and necessary environmental awareness campaign and we are encouraging corporations to step up and do the right thing. We were thrilled when JPMorgan came to us with a proposal to go green with its Corporate Challenge, and this will be a case study for all other events going forward.”
A sell-out crowd of 10,000 runners and walkers from 272 companies was more than glad to do its part. Online registration was up significantly, saving tens of thousands of sheets of paper. Comprehensive recycling was enforced on-site. More than 20-percent of the participants took advantage of shuttle transportation. It was an effective way to kick off JPMorgan Chase's “Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow” initiative throughout the Corporate Challenge Series.
“You would think that South Africa, for all its natural beauty, would be at the forefront of the environmental movement,” Jon Zehner, head of Sub-Saharan Africa for JPMorgan, said. “But it is not. I hope this event will work to have all South Africans take this issue more seriously.”
Perhaps sensing the generosity of spirit, Mother Nature responded with a pristine evening for racing – temperatures in the low 70's with no wind and an azure sky. That allowed for fast times on the 3.5-mile race course and leisurely exits from the expansive post-race party, which included a concert by Watershed, a popular South African band.
“This event just goes from strength to strength,” Carla Denny of Stanlib Asset Management noted. “It brings everybody together. While you are running you seem to meet people from other companies as well. It really has become part of what we are as a company. We wouldn't miss it.”
Linda Malinga of Makhulong A Matala Community Development Services accepts a beneficiary check presentation from Jon Zehner, head of JPMorgan Sub-Saharan Africa.
Johannesburg has sold out the Corporate Challenge three consecutive years, with many participants attracted to the event's philanthropic element. This year the JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry to Makhulong a Matala, a community development subsidiary of the Johannesburg Housing Company. The donation will be used to fund a badly-needed computer center for the organization's homeward program, said Linda Malinga.
“JPMorgan in Johannesburg is truly a catalyst for social change,” Malinga, the General Manager for Makhulong, said.
One company that is attracted to the competitive element of the Corporate Challenge is Transnet Rail Engineering. It took the first four spots in both the men's and women's divisions, with Tslamano Setone earning the men's title in 16:58, and Catherine Nkosi breaking the women's tape in 20:40. The 2007 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship overall winner, Enos Matalane, was second in 17:03.
“I'm happy, especially because I beat about 10,000 runners,” said Nkosi, who was participating in her first Corporate Challenge. “This was actually one of the best races that I have ever run in.”
Earning the men's and women's Most Senior Executive titles were Ricky Robinson of LRG Group (22:59) and Madelise Grobler of Bytes People Solutions (31:13). Thousands of others that did not receive first-place Tiffany gifts were content to just go after their own personal records and goals.
“It's a lot of laughter out there, a lot of shouting, and a lot of fun,” Lance Warner of Barclays Bank PLC said. “It's a big event on our calendar and we always have a couple of side bets.”
Bill Ashmord, company captain for Ethos Private Equity, will be looking to have a little fun with his colleagues on Friday morning.
“We will be posting the times and various derogatory remarks about the slowness of our tortoises,” he smiled. “But they are all winners for just being out on the course.”
There were winners in the creative department, as well. The Mineral Corporation, Momentum and Narina Trogon were judged to be the top companies in the T-Shirt competition. They will receive funds from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to donate to the charity of their choice.
Long after the sun went down, Watershed had stopped playing, and the post-race parties were quieting, “Green Marshalls” were still at the Wanderers making sure the biggest winner of the night was the environment.
“We're going to be looking at the entire effort and creating statistics on how green this event was,” said Indalo Yethu's Matane.
And the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge will continue with the same green tint throughout its 2008 Series. Next stop: Singapore on April 23.