A capacity crowd of 11,911 participants from 410 companies starts out from the Wanderers Club in the 2009 Johannesburg J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge brings
fast times, smiles to a capacity crowd
2009 Results | 2009 Photo Gallery
Lee Loynes from beneficiary Girls & Boys Town accepts a check from James Stewart, Head of Equities, J.P. Morgan South Africa.
JOHANNESBURG, March 5, 2009 — Once again Johannesburg has given its enthusiastic approval to the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge®.
A capacity crowd of 11,911 runners and walkers from 410 companies took part in the sixth annual Corporate Challenge at the historic Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. The number of companies was 50-percent larger than the 272 that took part in 2008, and the total participants represents 94-percent growth from the 2004 debut of this 5.6-kilometre event in South Africa.
“There is good food, music and overall an excellent environment,” said Greg Swanepoel, one of 22 runners from the financial brokerage firm Icap.
And there were plenty of outstanding performances. Keeping with the annual custom, Transnet Rail Engineering dominated the front of the pack, with Hermans Pedi earning the men's title in 16:46 and colleague Tebogo Masehla breaking the women's finish tape in 20:18. Transnet had three representatives in the top five of both the men's and women's divisions.
Not all were as swift as the Transnet runners, but found motivation nonetheless. Briet Coetzer was a first-time participant from Discovery Vitality, organizing a team of six entrants. One suspects she'll return in 2010.
“This was inspirational,” she said after crossing the finish line. “It encourages you to take up running!”
Sappi, the world's largest producer of paper used in magazines, calendars and annual reports, has been at the starting line for all six Corporate Challenges at the Wanderers Club. The company sees multiple benefits.
“We participate for our internal well being and find the event boosts health and morale,” said Andre Oberholzer, Sappi's Group Head of Global Corporate Affairs.
Sappi had 149 employees participating with the large turnout and Oberholzer said recruitment of his colleagues was easy because the Corporate Challenge is like-minded philosophically.
“We were delighted to see that the Corporate Challenge uses the event to promote a greener tomorrow,” Oberholzer said. “That is a daily priority for Sappi. The sustainability of the environment is of utmost importance to us.”
To that end, Oberholzer and his colleagues purchased trees at the Food & Trees for Africa marquee on-site. The partnership was part of the Corporate Challenge's Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow initiative, launched in 2008 by J.P. Morgan with a goal of making the Corporate Challenge the most environmentally responsible road race in the world. Green tactics in Johannesburg this year also included sourcing green endorsed products, strictly-controlled waste management with comprehensive recycling, and extensive bus shuttling and car-pooling.
“This is our way of assisting with the climate crisis our world is currently facing,” said Jon Zehner, Chief Executive of sub-Saharan Africa for J.P. Morgan.
The capacity crowd did its part for the environment and the community. The Corporate Challenge made a donation for each entry to Girls & Boys Town, a non-profit organization that focuses on the development and strengthening of youth, families and communities in difficulty. Girls & Boys Town provides a unique system of peer group self-government and “family-style” living that encourages girls and boys to learn about leadership and responsibility under the guidance of adults.
“Our association with the Corporate Challenge gives us a platform to create awareness of our programs,” said Lee Loynes, CEO, Girls & Boys Town. “J.P. Morgan's belief in what we do, and the championing of our vision and mission in these economically challenging times, has touched many lives positively.”
Tim Steel, representing TNT, and Magdelise Grobler of Bytes Technology Group were the men's and women's winners respectively in the Most Senior Executive category. They were joined on the award stage by the three winners in the creative T-shirt competition — Liberty Life, Momentum and Unlimited Energy.
Post-race, the companies gathered on the lower cricket pitch at the Wanderers Club to enjoy a concert by Prime Circle, a popular South African rock band. Large groups dancing in running shorts and company t-shirts created the lasting image of camaraderie that has come to define Johannesburg 's most popular corporate social/sporting event.
“This has been a great team building exercise, a good way to meet people from other companies,” said Graham Fleming, one of 20 participants from Wade Walker, an engineering services firm.
The 33rd year of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge Series will continue on Thursday, April 16 with the sixth annual event in Singapore, and moves to the United States on May 21 with Chicago. Registration is currently open in both of those cities, along with Rochester (May 28) and Buffalo (June 4). The remaining races in the 2009 Series will open registration later this month and in April.