Amherst returns to Championship
hoping to be a model for students
From left: Joelle Mann, Jennie Brinkworth, Jennifer Acker and Amy Fakterowitz of Amherst Central Schools share smiles after running in the 2010 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in Johannesburg. Mann, Acker and Fakterowitz will run this year's Championship in Chicago this May and will be joined by Jamie Seminara.
BUFFALO, March 16, 2012 - Qualifying for its second J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in three years, the women's team from Buffalo's Amherst Central Schools is sending an inspirational message to its students.
On May 24, Amherst will join Buffalo's other qualifying teams - men's winner Moog and mixed champion Newfane Central School District - at the 29th annual Series Championship, an elite international gathering that brings together the best 39 corporate teams from across the world's leading corporate running series. The men's, women's and mixed team champions from each city will square off in a 3.5-mile Championship that will be run just prior to the start of the regularly scheduled JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge in Chicago's Grant Park.
This is a team that takes its passions for running and teaching to heart. It has for years. It took Amherst 11 years to win its first women's title at Buffalo's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in the summer of 2009. Two years later, the core of the team that captured that title - Jennifer Acker, Amy Fakterowitz and Joelle Mann - won again, this time by more than four minutes.
Asked for updates on her team, Fakterowitz pointed to something that reveals what makes this team special.
"This year for the first time," she said, "both elementary schools in Amherst are going to have a Girls on the Run program for the girls in 3rd through 5th grades. The program teaches the girls about running and being fit, as well as positive self esteem and goal setting as they train for their first 5K race.
"We hope that our team of Amherst teachers can be good role models for the girls and will show them that running can be a lifetime sport," she added.
No doubt they will. Probably, they already have. Acker, Fakterowitz, Mann and the newest member of their championship team - Jamie Seminara - don't just show up on the day of the Corporate Challenge in Buffalo's Delaware Park. They are in their schools and communities teaching, training and promoting being fit and active.
To them, it's a long-running lifestyle that has produced unique and valued rewards.
|2012 Buffalo Championship qualifiers
|Ryan Collins, Dan Giza, Kenneth Newbury, Kai Szakmary
AMHERST CENTRAL SCHOOLS
|Jennifer Acker, Amy Fakterowitz, Joelle Mann, Jamie Seminara
NEWFANE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
|Diane Frost, Michael Heitzenrater, Julie Hinton, Henri Kursten
"A lot of exciting things have happened in the last two years," Fakterowitz said. "Jenny ran a 2:58 at the Toronto Scotia Bank Waterfront Marathon as well as a 1:21 half marathon this past year. I went out west with my teammates from Checkers Athletic Club to run a bucket-list race - Hood to Coast - and also ran in the Masters national 5K cross country championships. Joelle right now has been finishing up her 2nd masters degree on top of teaching full time and is still managing to train for half marathons. All three of us have been involved in a class since last June called Strength and Conditioning for Distance Runners, so we hope that we aren't just getting faster but much stronger as well."
Seminara, the team's fourth runner, is a second grade teacher at Smallwood elementary. She has been running for seven years and, said Fakterowitz, "is really excited to head to Chicago this year."
One reason for the excitement might be the accounts Seminara has heard from her teammates about Amherst's first Corporate Challenge Championship appearance in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2010.
"We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to race again at the championship after such an incredible experience in South Africa," said Fakterowitz.
As memorable as that African experience was, it was a little tough on the Amherst runners who endured a typically snowy winter in Buffalo before boarding a plane for Johannesburg in March. This year is different.
"The teams from Buffalo are going to be ready to race this year because of this unbelievable weather we have had this winter," Fakterowitz said. "For once we have barely had any snow and the temperatures have been perfect for training."
It sounds ideal for a team with an obvious long-enduring passion for their sport.