From left, Trisha Byler, Nicole Carrier, Patti Thompson and Phyllis Fleischman display their Rochester women's team title awards and will now travel to Singapore for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship.
Team's 2008 win inspires Danisco
to step up to Championship
ROCHESTER, December 29, 2010 - Through its 34 years, the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge® Series has been the catalyst in improving the fitness regimes of countless thousands of its entrants. From Singapore to Buffalo, stories of people beginning to walk or run for fitness after being encouraged by their colleagues are as legion as they are welcome. But, fitness change doesn't just happen at the beginning levels in the Corporate Challenge. Sometimes, it involves the very best runners in a host city.
Rochester's Danisco is a case in point.
In June, Danisco won the Rochester female team title by almost five minutes and was more than 10 minutes ahead of the third-place team. It was an impressive performance under any circumstances, but even more so because three of the four members of the team considered themselves "recreational" runners at best before being inspired to take running more seriously by the effort of one of their teams in 2008.
The winning effort this June earned Danisco a trip to the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship, which will be held in Asia for the first time in its 28 years when it is run in Singapore on April 21.
Joining Danisco in Singapore from Rochester will be Fleet Feet Sports, winner of the male division, and mixed team champion Corning. They will compete against the first-place teams from the other 11 cities in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series. And Rochester, which annually has one of the best "per capita" participation rates in the worldwide series despite its small population base, is heading to the Series Championship with each of its three teams ranked in the top 10 based on times.
|2011 Rochester Championship qualifiers
FLEET FEET SPORTS
|Mark Andrews, Andrew Baxter, Nathanial Lowe, Josh Wooten
|Trisha Byler, Nicole Carrier, Phyllis Fleischman, Patti Thompson
|David Bronfenbrenner, Morgan Burrows, Jim Cornell, Kimberly Wilbert
Danisco is going to Singapore as the eighth fastest female team in the field, which says a lot about how far its runners have come.
"Most members of our team were strictly ‘recreational’ runners until we unexpectedly won the 2008 Rochester Corporate Challenge with the help of a new hire - Trisha Byler, who was one of the top finishers (2nd place) in that year's race," said company captain and team member Nicole Carrier.
Carrier, a Senior Financial Analyst with Genencor – a Danisco division – for six years, adds that a bumper sticker she saw at her first race expo summed up how she felt about running until two years ago. The bumper sticker read: "My sport is your sport's punishment."
"I had never gone out for a run prior to working at Genencor," she said.
Even after being coaxed into a 4-mile run and then joining prior teams at Danisco, Carrier said that "every year my training began in April in preparation for the Corporate Challenge and ended right after the race in May until the following year. That didn't change until two years ago when somehow it just clicked. Since then I've begun racing year-round, including two half marathons and my first full marathon that I completed this past March."
She finished as the second Danisco runner in 23:06.
Team member Phyllis Fleischman, a Global Planning Manager with Genencor for eight years, was a cyclist who enjoyed multi-day stage rides.
"Before this year," Fleischman said, "running was something to do in the winter when my bike was on a trainer in the basement. Now, I've completed two marathons and plan to do more."
She finished as the fourth Danisco runner in 25:27.
Patti Thompson, a Quality Assurance Director with Genencor for 25 years, says she had been running in the Rochester Corporate Challenge since 1993.
"I was a recreational runner until our women's team won the Rochester competition in 2008," she said. "At that point, I started to train more seriously, and compete in several local races per year, but the highlight is always the Corporate Challenge."
She finished as the third Danisco runner in 24:51.
And then, there is the anchor and catalyst for the 2010 championship team – Byler.
A bio-analytical technician with Genencor, Byler is a natural running talent. She ran for Rochester Institute of Technology for four years, qualifying for the NCAA Cross Country Championships twice and the Division III NCAA steeplechase.
She not only finished as the first Danisco runner in 20:32 at Rochester in June, but was second overall in the race.
"I'm amazed how willing and eager all of my teammates are to seek advice and training plans to improve their performance," Byler said. "And I am very pleased that they still talk to me after the work-outs!"
Fast champions: Mark Andrews of Fleet Feet Sports won the male title at Rochester in 17:47 and Morgan Burrows of Corning won the women's crown in 20:02. Both will lead their teams in Singapore, joining Danisco as Rochester's representatives.
Not only do the team members talk after the workouts, but they genuinely look forward to them and spending time together as a group. This is despite generational differences, with Byler being 26 years old, Carrier 27, and Fleischman and Thompson over 46.
"We keep thinking: "I can't believe I'm doing this at 46+ years old," said Fleischman about herself and teammate Thompson. "What a tremendous opportunity. We love training with our teammates and are so inspired by each of them. Being part of this team is a great experience!"
Adds Carrier: "Going through the training experience as a team and seeing my teammates giving their best efforts in our work-outs, all working towards the same goal, has really been the key for me to start enjoying running. I continue to be amazed by how much everyone keeps improving and look forward to seeing what everyone can do in Singapore."
After competing in the 2008 Series championship in New York, they have no illusions about sweeping to victory against the best corporate running teams in the world. But that really isn't the point.
"We never imagined that we would have such a great opportunity," Carrier said about traveling to Singapore. "Thinking back to our NYC Championship experience, it was truly an amazing experience running with the world's best that still have full-time job responsibilities and it motivates us to train even harder.
"We plan on training hard to do our best, but most importantly we are looking forward to just having an experience of a lifetime by having the opportunity to race in Singapore," she added. "We know the climate in Singapore will add to the challenge as our winter training in Rochester will be in much different weather (averaging 100+ inches of snow a year)!"