Greece Central gets 2nd dream trip
to Championship after decisive win
Greece Central School District's team from the Series Championship in Johannesburg poses at the race reception. Greece Central is heading to its second Series Championship in May after winning by 15 minutes at Rochester.
ROCHESTER, May 29, 2012 — Two years ago, Kristine Penrose had a dream trip come true when she and her colleagues from Greece Central School District traveled to Johannesburg to compete in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship as the women's winners from Rochester. Fast forward two years and she is about to repeat the dream.
On May 24, Greece Central will join Rochester's other qualifying teams — men's winner Corning and mixed champion Rochester Institute of Technology — 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.
"To represent Greece Central School District in an event such as this is huge for us," said Penrose, a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Greece Central. "As an educator, I am able to bring this experience back to the classroom to share with my students."
|2012 Rochester Championship qualifiers
|Scott Bickham, James Derick, Branden Morseman, William Thibault
GREECE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
|Kristine Penrose, Rachel Sweet, Kerry Wille, Andrea Zaffino
ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
|Brent Bartlett, Erika Duthiers, Dan Millikin, Rachel Pikus
At Johannesburg, Penrose was joined by two of her current team members — Kerry Wille and Andrea Zaffino. The event left impressions on them, and, they hope, their students.
"To be able to speak about different cultures as a result of personal experience makes it more meaningful for our students," Penrose said. "The race (in Johannesburg) took place at sunset, with the streets lit up with street lights. I recall thinking that the setting was spectacular!"
But the life lessons from having teachers qualify to compete in an international championship go beyond that, she added.
"Living a healthy lifestyle in terms of eating well and exercising consistently is something we teach our students, and so I feel this is best done when we set the example," Penrose said."I competed on the track team while I was a student at Greece Athena many years ago. I'm living proof of someone whose enjoyment of a healthy-living activity led her to the opportunity of a lifetime. Racing in Johannesburg was really that opportunity of a lifetime, and I look forward to having yet another opportunity to race in a championship. This time it takes place on U.S. soil."
Zaffino also has indelible memories of Greece Central's appearance at Johannesburg.
"What stood out from the city of Johannesburg was the South African cultural and historical aspects that were blended into the urban landscape," Zaffino said. "What was impressive about the event itself was the attention to detail — everything was well organized and of the highest quality."
Now the team is turning its sights to Chicago.
"It is just thrilling to be able to go," said Zaffino. "The only expectation is to run well and enjoy the experience. It is an honor to be able to participate and even more so to be recognized for working as a team of professionals in the workplace as well as athletes."
But, don't mistake the low-key expectations for a lack of talent on the Greece Central team. This is a team that demolished its competition at Rochester, winning by an almost unheard of 15 minutes, 21 seconds.
Memories of their trip to South Africa remain vivid for Greece Central's team.
"I am surprised by how far ahead our time was to the second place team," said Penrose. "There was the pressure to perform well — not for myself but for the hope that we may be able to compete in another championship race. There is a great sense of pride that comes with putting Greece Central School District on the map, and the opportunity to race together with some of my colleagues was a real motivator for me."
Greece Central's team is completed by Championship newcomer Rachel Sweet. All four members are part of a school district that has a successful and extensive wellness program, which makes a difference in encouraging a healthy lifestyle and participation in events such as the Corporate Challenge.
"There is definitely an atmosphere that is supportive of physical wellness within the district," said Zaffino. "The staff does a lot to help each other stay fit. There are organized fitness classes like Zumba, which are offered after school. In addition, there are casual running groups and those staff members who use the fitness centers on a routine basis."
It all contributes to Greece Central's women's team coming into the Chicago Championship with the eighth fastest seeded time in its division. The team also will be going to Chicago with the thought of improving on its performance at Johannesburg.
"Well, we won't have to worry about having to adjust to a different culture, time change (only one hour), or extreme elevation as we did in Johannesburg," said Penrose. "There's a great deal of pressure to run fast, but (it is) easier to adjust to Chicago's surroundings than that of South Africa. No need for malaria pills this time either! I'm looking forward to meeting new people from all over the world (Frankfurt, Sydney, London, Singapore, Johannesburg, etc.) as we did two years ago."