From left, Sarah Longes, Chris Dalton, Julian Anderson and Tom Highnam are pictured after the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Sydney in November. Longes, Anderson and Highnam will join Alison Matthews on the the Allens Arthur Robinson Mixed team in Singapore.
Allens Arthur Robinson hopes to stay hot
as it trains for Championship in Singapore
SYDNEY, February 23, 2011 — While cyclones, brush fires, and historic floods have devastated parts of Australia the past year, Sydney has been largely spared. But, the city’s weather has been anything but normal. It has been downright hot and humid, which hasn’t been all bad for at least one small group of city residents – the Mixed team from Allens Arthur Robinson.
“Over the past month, temperatures have climbed to 42C (108F), but we've been telling ourselves that we'll have an advantage over our Northern Hemisphere rivals when it comes to racing in Singapore!” said Tom Highnam, captain of the team that raced to the Mixed team title at Sydney’s J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Centennial Park in November by almost two minutes.
For its victory, Allens Arthur Robinson will be joining a contingent of six Sydney teams at 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. Allens Arthur Robinson will join its fellow 2010 Sydney Corporate Challenge team champions, Male title winners McGrath Nichol and Female team victors Commonwealth Bank Group, in representing Sydney against the first-place teams from the other 11 cities in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series.
But, because of a an overlap in the schedule, Sydney will be further represented in Singapore by its 2009 championship teams — ING (Male), Macquarie (Female) and KPMG (Mixed). Prior to 2010, the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series schedule began with the Sydney event, which is held annually in November. Now the Series follows a calendar-year schedule meaning future Championships will feature three teams from every city.
“We know a lot of the other winning team members travelling to Singapore from Sydney so are confident the Australian contingent will be to the fore at the after-party at the very least!” said Highnam.
But, make no mistake, Allens Arthur Robinson is a team with serious talent, and a serious commitment to running.
|2011 Sydney Championship qualifiers
|Warwick Keneally, Charlie Low, Travis Shields, Tom Verdich
COMMONWEALTH BANK GROUP
|Lisa Bowman, Rachelle Koster, Katie Mann, Sonya Van Beek
ALLENS ARTHUR ROBINSON
|Julian Anderson, Tom Highnam, Sarah Longes, Alison Matthews
|Hamish Bell, Nick Marval, Ben St. Lawrence, Enda Stankard
|Wendy Hinks, Laura James, Aine O'Connell, Christine Wong
|Thomas Crasti, Jonathan Fenton, Andrea Ilakovac, Anel Stewart
“Our goals,” said Highnam, “are just to perform to the best of our abilities and have a great time.”
At Allens Arthur Robinson, that starts with Highnam. The international law firm has competed in every Corporate Challenge held in Sydney, with Highnam serving as team captain each time.
“We've had quite a lot of success in the past, having won the Mixed Team and travelled to the Championship events in New York in 2006 and 2008,” said Highnam. “Our team has rotated a lot though over the years. This will be the first time that Julian (Anderson), Alison (Matthews) and Sarah (Longes) have attended the Championship event.”
“I'm a partner at the firm and Julian, Alison and Sarah are all lawyers,” added Highnam. “We're each in different departments so don't see each other much during the day but try to train together at least once a week. I will race about twice a month but Julian, Alison and Sarah will each take part in the bigger races held in Sydney each year. Sport is a big part of the culture at Allens Arthur Robinson. All four of us are on the firm's Sports Committee.”
At the Sydney Corporate Challenge in November, Allens Arthur Robinson won in 1:24:57. It was a surprising performance in some ways. Highnam broke 18 minutes for the third time in recent years, running 17:52 to finish third overall. Then came the surprise, at least to him — Matthews finished fifth overall among the women in 21:14.
“I wasn't confident at all before the race,” he said. “Alison had kept her running skills very quiet. She used to compete in triathlons quite seriously in her late teens but had given it up to concentrate on studying for law. Plainly she's maintained some of her fitness! When the results came through I thought we might be in with a chance after Julian (21:05) and Sarah (24:46) backed up well to comprise our team of four.”
So now, it’s time to get ready for April’s Series Championship in Singapore, one of the cities where the company has offices.
“We're each in touch with a few of the lawyers in our Singapore office and will make sure they are out on the course on April 21st to provide some moral support,” said Highnam. “(But) given the full itinerary, I'm not sure there will be much time to catch up for anything else other than a brief coffee.”
Among the Australian teams joining Allens Arthur Robinson in Singapore will be the Women's team of Commonwealth Bank Group. Two of the team's runners - Sonya Van Beek (353) and Lisa Bowman (352) are pictured at November's race.
The busy trip will be the culmination of another year in which Highnam has successfully pushed his company and its employees to get involved in the fitness and social aspects of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Sydney.
“Every year I try and drum up as much support from within the firm to take part in the Corporate Challenge in Sydney,” said Highnam. “We usually have around 80-90 competitors. This winning team came together as the first four across the line in November 2010!”
Since then, however, the company has taken notice of the accomplishment authored in Centennial Park in November.
“(This is viewed) with great pride (within the company),” said Highnam. “The Corporate Challenge in Sydney is a very competitive event (won by the Australian 5000m Champion last year no less) and the success of the team was made known to the whole firm in our weekly online newsletter and to our clients by way of a news bulletin on our website. The sporting success of the firm is something we like to make aware as part of our graduate recruitment and the general ethos of the firm.”
Because of the hot weather in Sydney, they may be among the best prepared teams on the starting line at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in Singapore. How far that carries them against the world’s best corporate running teams is anyone’s guess. But Highnam is sure of one thing.
“I think,” he says, “there will be considerably more scrutiny paid to Alison's performance this time.”