Members of Deloitte's Women's and Mixed teams show off Union Jack socks at the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in New York. Both teams have qualified to run in this year's Championship in South Africa on March 4.
After knocking the socks off their rivals,
Deloitte sends two teams to Championship
LONDON, England, January 26, 2010 — The socks say it all. Bright, knee-high designs of Union Jacks, they were put proudly on display on the feet of some very fast runners from London's Deloitte representatives at the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in New York.
The running Union Jacks could well make an encore performance at the upcoming Series Championship in Johannesburg, South Africa on March 4. That's because Deloitte gave a performance at London's Corporate Challenge in July that knocked the socks off the competition — beginning with an impressive figure not measured by a stopwatch.
At the 2009 Corporate Challenge, more 1,000 employees from across Deloitte's organisations came to Battersea Park to participate. Together, the team raised £130,000 for national charity partners.
It was, said Company Captain Adele Stach-Kevitz, the highest total ever achieved by the firm in a single charity event.
The impressive showing for Deloitte did not end there, however.
Deloitte is heading to South Africa with not one, but two, Championship teams. It won both the Women's and Mixed team titles at the intensely competitive London races. And, one of its runners — Stacey Ward — ran away with the individual women's title by posting a quick time of 19:04 for the 3.5-mile course.
"It's great to have that much enthusiasm for sport and running in general from your colleagues," said Ward. "On a personal level, I didn't know what to expect from the team in this event. Looking at past results however, I thought it was going to be tough to secure places for the final. It's fantastic!"
Said Stach-Kevitz, also a member of the company's Women's team: "To say I am proud of Deloitte's runners is quite the understatement!"
Ward's performance came after a year in which she was sidelined for 10 months with injuries. Some perspective on how good her London run was can be gained by a glance at the results. They show she won her race on July 8 by more than a minute, then had that time stand up easily against the winning London Women's effort in the second race a night later.
Stacey Ward breaks the tape in London more than a minute ahead of her closest competitor on July 8. Excited about the upcoming opportunity to race against the world's best corporate runners in Johannesburg, Ward says: "I hope to come away from the event having learnt how to get the best out of myself against top opposition."
"I am more excited than words can describe!" Ward said about the prospect of competing against the world's best corporate runners in South Africa. "The only concern is how the altitude will affect me. I've run at altitude once when on ski holiday in Bulgaria but nothing at this level. I know the competition is going to be very strong. I'll be nervous, but hope that the excitement of the event will overcome that! I'd hoped to better my London time, but in the conditions I don't think that will be possible. I'm aiming to run the best race I can to get the most out of myself to finish as high as possible."
If she can come close to her London performance, Deloitte's Mixed team, for which she runs, figures to be a contender at Johannesburg. The team ran 1:16:48 at London, demolishing the competition by almost 8 minutes. In addition to Ward, a product of England's strong tradition of athletic clubs that have developed distance stars such as former world record holder Steve Ovett, the Deloitte Mixed team going to South Africa is composed of Jeff Cunningham, Heather Blamire-Brown, and James Mason.
Deloitte's Women's team is made up of Stach-Kevitz, Anna Bjoernhammer, Nathalie Christie and Lucy Snowball.
Taken together, the backgrounds of the eight runners reveal the type of variety that makes corporate running so fascinating.
Stach-Kevitz, for example, works within Deloitte's Consulting firm and for the past two years has been seconded to London's Olympic Organising Committee to help plan for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. In addition, she is the Ladies Captain of Newham & Essex Athletics Club, leading a talented group of female athletes headed by Olympic 400-meter champion Christine Ohuruogo. Stach-Kevitz has been running for more than 25 years.
Mason is a fell, or mountain, runner who has turned his focus to marathons. Though he ran 18:21 in London, he says the 3.5 mile Championship in Johannesburg may be "somewhat of a shock to the system!"
And Bjoernhammer and Snowball are relative newcomers to running.
Bjoernhammer, for example, has only run in four competitions in her life. Two of them — the 2008 and 2009 London Corporate Challenges — resulted in international trips — one to New York and the upcoming race in South Africa.
"I feel very privileged," she said. "I am very excited about the South Africa trip, but also very nervous!"
She ran 22:30 in London.
Snowball is a senior associate in international tax.
"When I did the London race in July, I had only been with the firm for nine months so this was quite a bonus," she said. "I have done one half-marathon a good few years ago, and a couple of 10kms, but I just run to keep fit really. I am not your "typical" athlete."
She ran 22:40 in London.
The group represents the peak of an upward trend in Deloitte's fortunes at the Corporate Challenge. In 2007, Deloitte celebrated an individual women's win by Amy Dale, and a second place in the Mixed Team race and fifth in the Women's team race. In 2008, Deloitte won the Mixed Team race and finished fourth in the Women's team race — with both teams travelling to New York for the JP Morgan Championship race. And, in 2009, Deloitte again improved — with Ward's victory and team wins by its Mixed and Women's teams.
"We have amassed an impressive collection of Tiffany crystal trophies and thank the event organisers for their generous gifts," said Stach-Kevitz.
Now the two teams are looking forward to Johannesburg. Several members have visited there, but all are anticipating the experience.
"When you run every day (sometimes twice a day) fitting in hard sessions around work, you like to think it's getting you somewhere," said Cunningham. "To get to run in Johannesburg, though, was certainly beyond my expectations. Running is common currency across the world. I'm really looking forward to experiencing a race against people from different countries and cultures in the 'rainbow nation.'"
Stach-Kevitz is looking forward to a "celebration of athletic talent and the wonderful community spirit engendered by the JP Morgan event."
"The 2008 Championship I attended in New York was exhilarating," she said, "but I cannot wait to experience the passion of South Africa."
In addition to looking to soaking up the culture, landscape, food and climate, Ward hopes to use the experience to grow as an athlete.
"The competition is going to be strong," she said. "It's the best of the best in the corporate world. Personally, I hope to come away from the event having learnt how to get the best out of myself against top opposition."
And Mason, the veteran fell runner turning to marathoning, put things succinctly.
"I am," he said, "looking forward to the finish line and a celebratory pint of Tusker!"