Lauren Uhler smiles after finishing second in 20:03 at the 2009 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park.
Morgan Stanley's depth, talent
carry two teams to Singapore
NEW YORK, February 16, 2011 — Filling to capacity on each of its two nights in Central Park, the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in New York in many ways reflects its host city. The races are big, competitive, and fun. And, sometimes, it's a little difficult to get a handle on exactly where you fit in at this fast-moving, positively charged environment.
That was the case for Morgan Stanley last June. After racing the first of the two nights in Central Park, the company knew it had done well. Its Women's team had two top five finishers in Lauren Uhler (fourth in 20:30) and Lauren Cummings (fifth in 21:04). And, the company's Men's team also had authored a very credible effort, with its four top runners all under 20:32. Still, New York is so competitive that good times on the tough 3.5-mile stretch through one of the world's most famous parks are no guarantee of a team title.
Days later, the official word came. Morgan Stanley dominated in winning the Women's title by more than eight minutes. No shocker there. But, then, it learned its Men's team had also run to a title, this one by a mere eight seconds over Urban Athletics.
With its victories, Morgan Stanley qualified two teams for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship, which will be held in Asia for the first time in its 28 years when it is run in Singapore on April 21. The two Morgan Stanley teams will represent New York City against the first-place teams from the other 11 cities in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series.
"I was very surprised," said Men's team member Collin Martin. "Morgan Stanley finished fourth in 2009, so I knew we had a chance, but given the size of the race it's difficult to get a feel of how we did relative to the other teams. When I finally saw the results I was shocked, especially by such a close margin. If any of us had eased up just a little at the end we might not be headed to Singapore!"
For Morgan Stanley, it doesn't matter that its two teams took very different routes to qualifying.
"It was a great feeling to win alongside the men's team. It really feels like one team effort now," said Cummings. "The two teams are equally excited — it doesn't matter what the time spread was. However, it is great to see our women's team win by so much despite New York City being such a competitive place to run."
In fact, Morgan Stanley’s Women’s team not only dominated in New York, but also ran the fastest time in the world-wide Corporate Challenge Series by more than two minutes.
“We're all incredibly honored to be representing Morgan Stanley at such a high profile international race,” said Uhler. “Unfortunately, two of our original team members will not be able to join us, but our alternates are fantastic runners and we know they will put up competitive times in Singapore.”
“I think that if all four of us stay healthy and run to our potential, we hope to have a good shot at the win,” added Uhler.
|2011 New York City Championship qualifiers
|Collin Martin, Sean Gage, Brian Ehlis, Peter Quinzio
|Lauren Uhler, Lauren Cummings, Alysia Dusseau, Amy May
NEW YORK ROAD RUNNERS
|Gordon Bakouls, Ro Crispin, Rick Krupa, Mary Wittenberg
In addition to Uhler and Cummings, the Women’s team will be made up of Alysia Dusseau and Amy May, who were part of Morgan Stanley’s “second” Women’s team that finished fifth in New York. If you’re seeing a trend here of a lot of talented runners working for Morgan Stanley, you’re spot on.
“It's always exciting to win team competitions, but I was even more excited to win this and to represent Morgan Stanley,” said Martin. “I think it's a testament to the strength of our firm, and it shows that its employees have a very strong work ethic, both in and out of the workplace. I was impressed by the depth of our company as well, as the Men's second team placed in 10th, and the Women's second team placed 5th.”
Sean Gage, who makes up the Men’s team along with Martin, Brian Ehlis, and Peter Quinzio, added: “The New York race is huge and there many firms who participate so I would consider even finishing in the top 10 to be an accomplishment in itself. As a Morgan Stanley employee, I think it shows how much the firm values its employees’ time outside of work and how it encourages us to set and achieve both professional and personal goals.”
As Gage suggests, given the competitiveness of the New York race, winning by eight minutes, as Morgan Stanley’s Women’s team did, is truly impressive. At the heart of this powerhouse Women’s team are the two Laurens — Uhler and Cummings — each of whom has an impressive history with the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
Cummings is a Vice President in equity capital markets in investment banking at Morgan Stanley. She trains in the morning before heading to the office to make sure a busy day of work doesn't get in the way of her training. She has been running for Central Park Track Club since 2004.
Modestly, she says she was part of “a couple of successful Morgan Stanley teams” in the past. In 2002, running as Lauren Esposito, she won one of the Central Park races in 20:23. The next year, she helped Morgan Stanley to a Women’s team title in Central Park, then came back a few months later to win the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship individual female title by 15 seconds in 20:24 on a hot, humid day on New York’s Park Avenue. Her individual title helped Morgan Stanley finish a solid third in the 2003 Series Championship — not a bad run of success.
Lauren Cummings (Esposito) runs to a pair of memorable victories for Morgan Stanley in the early 2000s. In 2002, she wins the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park, breaking the finish line tape held by marathon legend Grete Waitz and Hal Pote of JPMorgan Chase. In the right photo, she wins the 2003 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship on Park Avenue in New York, running 20:24 to help Morgan Stanley's Women's team finish third.
Meanwhile, the “other” Lauren — Uhler — is a product specialist in Alternative Investments, who has been with Morgan Stanley since early 2008. She considers herself a long distance specialist, winning the 2009 New Jersey Marathon in 2:52:10, but clearly has the speed to compete at the 3.5-mile Corporate Challenge distance — when she is healthy.
“I've been battling a nasty injury (torn plantar fascia) but am back on track and should be 100 percent by April,” she said.
That could be pretty good. In 2009, she finished second at New York in 20:03 and was only nine seconds behind winner Megan Guiney. In 2010, her fourth-place effort propelled Morgan Stanley to its dominating win. And, she has another tie with Corporate Challenge titles.
“Funny enough, my fiance, Jeff Rios, actually won the Corporate Challenge in New York two years in a row (in 2009 and 2010),” said Uhler. “Jeff will be accompanying me to the race in Singapore, and we are flying to Hanoi after the race to spend an early honeymoon in Vietnam! Our wedding is in September. We so are thrilled for this incredible opportunity.”
The icing on the cake would be to bring a Championship title back for Morgan Stanley. But, in a very real sense, they and their male colleagues have already won by qualifying in the competitiveness of New York.
“This is such an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in such a unique experience and represent Morgan Stanley on a global stage,” said Uhler.
Adds Cummings: “The women's team is showing up to Singapore prepared to run just as strong as we did in New York City. We expect to face a competitive field, but are excited for the challenge.”
They, and their male colleagues, have certainly earned the opportunity.