Representing Harris RF at the 2011 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in Singapore in April will be, from left: Dereck Bojanowski, Tom McCurdy, Dave Bischoff, and Tim Dwyer.
Harris RF takes 3-year run to blend
championship team for Singapore
SYRACUSE, March 23, 2011 — Dave Bischoff is one of the long-time supporters of the Chase Corporate Challenge in Upstate New York. He helped build a outstanding team for Kodak at the Rochester event and now is doing the same for his latest employer, Harris RF.
Bischoff, 49, has made it his personal mission to introduce the Corporate Challenge to the young generation of runners at Harris, and sees the marketing and intangible benefit of doing so.
"When I joined the company," Bischoff said, "the first thing I noticed was the vibrant and youthful energy at Harris. I was immediately excited about the possibilities of getting a new team together that could challenge again for the championships, something that I had enjoyed for so many years at Kodak, dating back to early-mid 90's."
Bischoff's strategy was to use a simple grass-roots, word-of-mouth, beat-the-bushes effort, enhanced by what he says were "some cool stories" about the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship®. It worked.
"It started with lunch time runs and grew to the current cadre of 8-10 solid runners," he said. "With all the new hiring over the last few years, we were fortunate to find some new, young talent."
|2011 Syracuse Championship qualifiers
|Dereck Bojanowski, Tom McCurdy, Dave Bischoff, Tim Dwyer
|Katie Fitzpatrick, Meredith Kelly, Kelly Murlick, Caryle Zipprich
|Sean Madden, Rebecca Moore, Margaret Sheen, David Tromp
Add Bischoff and 51-year-old Tim Dwyer to newly-hired 23-year-old talents Dereck Bojanowski and Tom McCurdy and you've got a Male team that won its title by more than a minute. Harris also got a nice bonus when its "second team" finished third among the men. For their efforts, the title winners will represent Harris at the 2011 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® Championship in Singapore on April 21.
Syracuse teams that will join Harris in Singapore at the first Championship held in Asia will be Lockheed Martin, winner of the Female division, and mixed team champion NYSDEC. They will compete against the first-place teams from the other 11 cities in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series.
For Bischoff, a Mechanical Engineering Manager at Harris, the trip to Asia is not only an acknowledgement of his organizational and motivational skills; it also says something else about championship runners. They endure.
"It took three years of developing interested runners and some providential new college grad recruiting and all of a sudden we had some young blood to bolster the old guard," he said. "The first real Harris competitive outing was in Rochester in 2008 and we were 7th. Some hard training got us a distant 2nd place in Syracuse that year."
In 2009, Harris came closer to the top with a solid 2nd place finish. Then came the breakthrough in 2010.
"We wanted to all get out in the top 10-15 runners and try to stay close," said Bischoff of the team strategy. "We figured if we could all run around 19:30, we'd have a good shot at the title."
They did, and then some.
McCurdy, an International Systems (Electrical) Engineer and a Division 1 soccer player at Michigan, led the way.
"The last time he ran competitively was in high school one year," said Bischoff. "I told him running would make him even better (at soccer) and he took the challenge and found out he was good at it."
He finished eighth overall at Syracuse and was the top Harris finisher in 18:48.
Bojanowski, an Electrical Engineer who works on Harris' Falcon III radio line, was a 9:10 steeplechase runner at Rochester Institute of Technology.
"He's a natural and the one with probably the most upside," said Bischoff, "but (what he and McCurdy) did at Syracuse was amazing as they dropped probably 45 seconds on their times in just four weeks of training. They'd be dangerous if they actually ran serious mileage!"
Bojanowski finished as the second Harris runner in 19:24.
With Singapore on their minds, members of Harris RF's first and third place Men's teams at the 2010 Syracuse Chase Corporate Challenge point to a clock with Singapore time in the company's lobby. From left are: Pete Richard, Chris Feuerstein, Tom McCurdy, Dave Bischoff, Tim Dwyer, Dereck Bojanowski, and Dean Cullen.
The team's two "older generation" runners were nearly as fast and probably had better stories to tell.
"For me," said Bischoff, "the win was also gratifying coming just three days after running the USA National Mountain Running Championships up Mt. Washington. The legs felt surprisingly good. Tim (Dwyer, still a sub-three-hour marathoner at age 51) had also run a long race the weekend before and so we were very happy."
Bischoff finished in 19:28. Dwyer completed the team's scoring in 19:48.
"This, to me, was extremely fulfilling as it was the first time in many attempts to put a winning team together in Syracuse, even during the Kodak years," he said. "Going forward, we want to develop a ladies team capable of the same."
The victory — and the chance to represent Harris on a global stage in Singapore — also has gone over well at the international communications and information technology company that serves government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries and employs more than 16,000, including nearly 7,000 engineers and scientists.
"We were immediately excited about the announcement that the Championship would be rotated to various cities, including the international cities like Singapore," said Bischoff. "For us it's a chance to introduce more of the world to Harris and its superb technology. Even here in Upstate New York, many haven't heard the name or don't understand our role in global communications. Harris has grown exponentially in the last five years. We also are growing our international business, so it's a perfect opportunity to raise our banner.
"For Harris, this is all new territory," added Bischoff. "The last few years, its respect of our competitive efforts and support overall has grown immensely. Our division even paid for employee entries to the local race to encourage participation. I think they see the value of staying physically active and healthy. Our division president (Dana Mehnert) is himself a runner and understands the importance of great teamwork and camaraderie. We're proud to represent Harris."
How well they do against the best corporate teams in the world in a climate far different than the snow and cold they've endured during a tough winter in Upstate New York, remains to be seen, of course. And then, there is the fact that Dwyer will be running the Boston Marathon only three days before the Singapore race — just to make things a little more interesting.
"Talk about jet lag. Ouch," said Bischoff. "But, if anyone can pull it off, it's Tim. You'll never meet a more positive, fun dude. How we do certainly depends on everyone's fitness and condition on race day. We'd, of course, like to get close to top five, but we are not unrealistic. You can be sure we'll leave nothing on the course. Run hard and enjoy the post-race even more is our motto!"