The New York City Board of Education has competed in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge since 1987, with 27 of its teams winning a New York area race.
NYC Board of Education gets high marks
for long run of excellence at Championship
This is one in a series of stories profiling notable individuals and companies from the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.
It's the start of something big for UFT as three of its runners go to the front at the start of June's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park. Pictured are (from right): Brian Cloherty, Richie Orazem and Ricardo Bailey, with Julio Melendez in the background. UFT won the Male team title in the race, and also placed fifth.
New York, September 30, 2008 – To say the New York City Board of Education has earned passing marks for its participation in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship would be a little like saying Einstein was a pretty smart guy.
For more than 20 years, the New York board has fielded teams in the world's most successful road racing series. Its squads have been a fixture among top 10 teams at the Series-ending Championship. And, as this year's Championship approaches on Saturday, October 4, at 9 a.m. on Park Avenue, the team with “UFT” (United Federation of Teachers) on its shirts again is preparing to take its place among the world's best.
In fact, UFT placed an impressive four teams in the top 10 at New York 's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park this summer. Its Male teams finished first and fifth in Central Park, and it added a third in the Female Division and a seventh in the Mixed. All four will compete on Park Avenue.
“We have had great success combining a social and competitive team over the years,” said Kevin Miller, Company Captain for the first year. “But more than half of all teachers leave the profession after a few years. Over the past five years we have been particularly hard hit in this way and have not had the time to publicize our team to new teachers. This year, Richie Orazem, the chair for 14 years, and I dedicated ourselves to recruiting and we have a nice number of new, excited teacher-runners to build on the "old timers."
That mix will seek to extend a tradition at the Championship that has seen a remarkable 18 UFT teams place in the top 10 of the Finals over the years, including a title in the Female division in 1994.
" We hope to place in the top five (of the Male and Female divisions)," said Miller. "Two of our top runners in the June race have left the system but we hope for a few of our other guys to step up. Three of these guys are in their first few years of teaching, competitive college runners, recently moved to NYC. One of them is a veteran, in his thirties. "
That team not only won the Male title in New York, it overpowered the competition by finishing 3 minutes, 25 seconds ahead. On a rain-slickened course, Taylor Delhagen ( 17:59 ), Brian Horneck ( 18:20 ), Matthew Uzenski ( 18:34 ) and Joe Tumbarello ( 18:57 ) combined to run 1:13:50.
Bonnie Johnson (18496), Sara Fisher (18487) and Mary Gailbreath (18488) join teammates in a group photo at June's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park.
"We are proud to again represent New York City," said Miller. "We have had success like this in the past.Over the years, 27 of our teams have won a New York City area qualifying race. Our teams have run these kind of times over the years. We have put together a nice team and we are glad to be back in the game."
Such a long-standing record of accomplishment often is rooted in the efforts of a strong leader, and UFT is no exception.
At UFT, that has meant Orazem, who not only captained the team for 14 years, but also was one of its most outstanding runners. In 1990, Orazem ran 17:23 at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. It is the second fastest time ever run by a UFT participant, trailing only the 17:15 run by Keith Turner in 1993. And Orazem is still at it. In June's Central Park race, he helped Miller build the team, then jumped into the race and finished in 20:32. He will compete on Park Avenue as part of UFT's second Male team.
For Miller, who was injured in June and could not run, being on the sidelines and watching his teammates brought forth a familiar feeling.
"Hearing UFT shouted out over and over the loudspeaker as our runners were coming through the finish line as the rain was pouring down was a major highlight," said Miller. "Like the experience of teaching, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment that we had put together an amazing team."
He'll get a chance to rekindle that feeling on Park Avenue when UFT joins the best corporate running teams in the world in the 26th running of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship.