New York Road Runners add to legacy
with trip to Corporate Challenge finals
|2012 New York Championship qualifiers
NEW YORK ROAD RUNNERS
|Stuart Calderwood, Ro Crispin, John Honerkamp, Skip Stiles
|Anne Butler, Arianne Field, Emily McDonald, Mary Beth Wolfe
MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING
|Lindsay Van Alstine, Erin Maloney, Joel Schrock, William Walkowicz
NEW YORK, April 6, 2012 — For 53 years, the New York Road Runners have been "giving people a reason to run." Whether it is through events like the New York City Marathon or programs for children, this is an organization that, when it comes to running, freely admits:
"Our hearts are all in. We are a crazy passionate group."
So, it is fitting that the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship is returning the favor for a New York Road Runners' men's team that qualified for the elite international event by sweeping to its division title at New York City last June by more than four minutes.
“It is a great opportunity to represent our city and our company in such a storied event," said team member John Honerkamp. "NYRR's mantra is 'Run For Life,' and this event embodies that mindset. I am excited to toe the line in Chicago with my NYRR teammates.”
On May 24, the NYRR runners will "toe the line" with New York's other qualifying teams — women's winner J.P. Morgan and mixed champion Memorial Sloan Kettering — at the 29th annual Series Championship, a 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.
Drea Braxmeier is the company captain for the New York Road Runners, an organization founded in 1958 that now has 60,000 members and counts more than 300,000 participants from around the world in its events. With such a passion for running, it is not surprising that the NYRR have been a fixture in New York City's sold-out Corporate Challenges in Central Park each June, or that the team has found success on many levels at the event.
"We believe we have been competing in the Corporate Challenge for at least 15 years," said Braxmeier. "This was the first time our men's team has won. We also had our co-ed team place a few times. In addition, our president and CEO Mary Wittenberg was the top CEO several times."
The men's team's effort in qualifying for the Series Championship in Chicago, however, is clearly a highlight for many reasons.
"It is very exciting for NYRR to have our men's team take home the title," said Braxmeier. "We love what we do, and can honestly say we care about the sport. In addition to being great runners, this team helped create group runs at NYRR and encourage everyone no matter the pace or distance to give it a try. It is a really great team building activity to enjoy each other outside of the office."
The four team members — Honerkamp, Stuart Calderwood, Ro Crispin and Skip Stiles — know that they will be competing in Chicago in a challenging division and one where teams from New York historically have not enjoyed high finishes. Their hope is that they can begin to change that history.
"At first glance," said Honerkamp, "we have a chance at getting a podium spot, but to win looks to be a tall order. Weather and course conditions are not the same for all cities so time comparison isn't apples to apples.”
Part of a capacity crowd begins the 2011 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park last June.
As might be expected, the team members have backgrounds — as well as positions at the NYRR — that reflect their enduring love of running.
Honerkamp is the Manager of Runner Products and Services at NYRR. He has coached runners of all ages and abilities for 15 years. A 1998 graduate of St. John's University, he was an eight-time All-Big East and six-time All-East (IC4A) athlete while running for the Red Storm. He earned 12 Big East All-Academic accolades and was the youngest semifinalist in the 800-meters at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials. His personal bests include 1:47.26 (800 meters), 3:41.58 (1500 meters), and 4:01.30 (one mile), and he recently moved up to longer distances. He ran the 2010 ING New York City Marathon in 2:44:22, and the Long Island Half-Marathon in 1:12:24. He was the second NYRR men's team finisher in New York in 17:57.
Stiles is an Assistant Manager, Event Entertainment and Production, for the NYRR and has along history of coaching and involvement in running. A former runner for the University of New Hampshire, he completed the 2011 Chicago Marathon in 2:50:35. And, he has coached cross country and track at Temple University and was the head cross country coach at Hampden-Sydney College. He ran 18:32 last June in the Corporate Challenge.
Crispin is Manager, Event Management at the NYRR, a challenging position given the number of events in which the Road Runners are involved. He placed fourth in 17:48 in the first night of racing in Central Park last June to lead the winning NYRR men's team effort.
And, Calderwood is a Senior Editor at the NYRR and holds American track records at 25,000 meters and 30,000 meters in the 50-54 age-group. He also won the bronze medal at the World Masters Championships Marathon in 2003 (45-49 age group) and was second in the USA Masters Championships Half-Marathon in 2008 (50-54 age group). Oh, and there is one other highlight: Calderwood has logged 9,175 consecutive days of running since January 21, 1987.
Now, he and his teammates will get the chance to add another day of running to that streak when they compete against the world's best corporate runners in Chicago at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship. Given their life-long passions for running, it should be a memorable — and well-earned — day.