With the impressive skyline of Singapore behind them, a capacity crowd of 11,856 participants waits to start the city's fourth JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.
Singapore embraces Corporate Challenge
with its second straight sell-out crowd
Official results | Photo Gallery
After winning four Corporate Challenge titles in Sydney, Symantec's Suzy Walsham transfered to Singapore and promptly won the Female title by almost three minutes in a blistering, personal best time of 18:38. Photos: Andrew Mok
SINGAPORE, May 3, 2007 – The Singapore success story continues, as the fourth annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in the Lion City drew a record crowd of 11,856 participants from 345 companies.
It was the second consecutive sell-out crowd in Singapore, and the only Asian stop in the Corporate Challenge Series has attracted nearly 36,000 people total since its 2004 debut. No Corporate Challenge event in the 31-year history of the Series has ever drawn more people in its first four years.
“This is a place where we can network and spend time with our colleagues,” said Vincent Nicolier, team captain for OCBC Bank, his company's headquarters glistening in Singapore's modern skyline just to the south of the Corporate Challenge staging area on the historic Padang. “The race is a fair competition during which fun and team spirit are most important.”
No one will argue that Singaporeans blend work and play brilliantly. It is an emerging economic power thanks to the diligence of the locals and the infusion of talent from expatriates from around the world. And the success of the Corporate Challenge indicates this blend of people enjoy each other's company in and out of the office.
“How often will a country shut down for a run on a weekday evening?” asked Philip Lee, Senior Country Officer for JPMorgan in Singapore. “We basically shut down the entire Padang area, and that is tantamount to closing business.”
When business closed on this day, Suzy Walsham of Symantec – a very familiar name in Corporate Challenge history – took over.
Walsham, one of those talented expatriates, has won four Corporate Challenge individual titles in Sydney, Australia. Winning is a misnomer. Walsham annihilated the women's field in each case, covering the 5.6-kilometer Centennial Park course in 18:52 (2000), 19:14 (2001), 18:48 (2002) and 18:39 (2005). Each one of those times is among the 15 fastest in Corporate Challenge women's history, dating back to 1977.
Walsham, now 33, happily moved to Singapore eight months ago after accepting a promotion to manage an accounting project for Symantec. “My focus is more on work now,” she smiled at the starting line. “I'm about a month behind on my training. This is more fun for me now.”
Fun, indeed. Walsham merely set a Corporate Challenge PR (personal record), breaking the women's tape in 18:38. She bested three-time defending Singapore champion Vivian Tang, who finished a solid second in 21:17, the exact time she ran in winning the 2006 race.
“I really surprised myself,” said Walsham. “Maybe it was because the course is flat and very fast. In Sydney there is a hill in the first 300 meters. Work is the priority right now, but it is good to know I can still run like this.”
Runners pass in front of Singapore's signature Esplanade Theatre, designed in the shape of a durian, the nation's most famous fruit.
Walsham is world-class, a Commonwealth Games gold medal winner for her native Australia in the 1500 and 800 meters. And now she figures to be a staple on the Singapore running scene for a while.
Staying power is what the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force has also. The Gurkhas took five of the six top places in the men's race, led by first-time winner Magar Tanka Bahadur (17:34). His motivation came from what he felt was a sub-par performance at the 2006 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in New York City.
“We love this race and we always want to represent Singapore in New York,” Magar said. “But last year we only finished sixth, and now we want to train hard and do better. We'll do that.”
Andrew Hallam from the Singapore American School was the only non-Gurkha in the top five, finishing a solid third in 18:01.
Perhaps not all 11,856 participants set a personal record, but their efforts on this comfortable, rain-free evening will reward many children. JPMorgan will make a donation for each entry to the Asian Civilisations Museum's Touching The World program, which will provide activities and materials to increase access to the museum for children with special needs. The donation will launch a two-year initiative that will ultimately benefit children with intellectual disabilities, visually and aurally impaired children, and young patients in long-term hospital care.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the Museum has served as the beneficiary and its Director, Dr. Kenson Kwok, was on hand to accept the donation.
Lau Diderichsen, representing Viking Life Saving Equipment, and Kim Geok Sim of Bank Sarasin-Rabo, won the men's and women's Most Senior Executive titles in 21:17 and 36:44 respectively. And three companies – Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, EDS, and KPMG – flashed their creative side, winning the T-Shirt design competition, earning a SGD $500 donation to the charity of their choice.
As the awards were being distributed, the parties were in full throat on the Padang. Every inch of hospitality space was sold as thousands enjoyed a unique night out with their colleagues, competitors and suppliers.
“In the course of our daily work we rarely get the chance to interact with colleagues outside of our department,” said Eng Kar Keng from the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. “So we take this event as an opportunity to get to know each other better and build a strong team spirit.”
And that's a message that is resonating from South Africa (sold-out crowd of more than 11,000 on March 1) to Singapore to Chicago (record gathering of 20,000 expected on May 24) to London (two capacity nights in July) and beyond.
“This event is special to a lot of people,” said Walsham. “It is to me.”
2006 moments: Vivian Tang (top photo) breaks the tape held by Vikram Khanna, Associate Editor for The Business Times, to win by 57 seconds. A festive gathering of 11,403 participated. In bottom left photo, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports (left) and Philip Lee, Country Manager for JPMorgan Singapore, present award to male champion Nabin Kumar Rai.
Capacity field of 11,403 blooms
in Singapore despite April showers
Tang takes 3rd title, Gurkhas run strong
Official results | Photo Gallery
We invite you to re-live the 2006 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Singapore through our Bonus Photo Galleries. Click the Gallery titles below to access five sets, in addition to the Photo Gallery posted on race night.
SINGAPORE, April 26, 2006 – They responded to this challenge in record numbers and a little rain was not going to scare away the fit, fun-loving Singapore corporate community.
The third annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge® in Singapore attracted a capacity crowd of 11,430 participants from 298 companies, an increase of over 20-percent from the 2005 gathering. This island nation is quite used to April showers, so they were all there in force for the 6 p.m. start despite a persistent mist.
“This brings everyone in the company together,” said Sy Chieh Lee, who served as company captain for the 80-person Singapore Technologies Engineering team. “We had all our different groups competing and we wouldn't miss it (even with the rain).”
Not to say there were not several moments of trepidation earlier in the day. As the race coordinators put the final, spiffy touches on the Padang staging area, a Category 1 warning for lightning was announced and the rains were quite heavy. But as the crowds showed up, the nasty weather passed as if on cue.
“This is such an enthusiastic event,” noted Wei Shiung Lin of the United Overseas Bank. “This is the third year we have participated and we keep seeing more and more staffing coming on. We have nearly 150 people with us and we train as a company for the race. It's a great experience.”
Dozens of hospitality marquees ringed the Padang, with many companies choosing to serve sumptuous food and make this an all-inclusive outing for employees. But before the post-race party there was keen competition.
Gurkha Contingent is strong once again with 4 of top 5
Nabin Kumar Rai, representing the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force, was the first male to cross the finish line. He covered the 5.6-kilmometre (3.5-mile) course in 18:17, finishing just ahead of Killian Pattwell of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who logged a solid 18:36.
Kumar Rai finished fourth here last year and qualified with his Gurkha teammates for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship in New York, where he placed a respectable 35 th overall. With four of the top five men's finishers on this night being Gurkhas, he will likely have an opportunity to improve his placement at the 2006 Championship on October 7.
A familiar, smiling face broke the women's finishing tape. Vivian Tang of CIMB-GK Securities earned her third consecutive JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge title in Singapore, finishing in 21:17. She was 57 seconds faster than Mika Kume of Ernst & Young.
“It was a little slippery out there, but nothing too bad and I'm very proud to defend my title,” said Tang. “This is a race to be proud of.”
Members of International Enterprise Singapore, which had a strong turnout of 148 participants, pose for a pre-race photo.
The Singapore government indeed is proud to host the Corporate Challenge and Kumar Rai and Tang were saluted on the post-race awards stage by the event's Guest of Honour, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports. “This is important to the business image of Singapore,” said Dr. Balakrishnan, “and we have to make sure that this event continues.”
Dr. Balakrishnan also presented the awards to the two Most Senior Executive winners – Gerard Hanssen of the Singapore Island Country Club ( 21:09 ) and Jennifer Sim of Bank Sarasin-RABO (36:50). For Hanssen, it was the culmination of an emotionally draining week.
“Last Friday my father passed away, on Monday I buried him, and tonight I dedicate my win to him,” said Hanssen.
Hanssen competed in 2005 for The British Club and he was lined up at the starting line side-by-side with his new and old teammates.
“This event works well as a bonding event for my new team, but I am friends with my old team, but I want to beat them!” he said with a smile.
Asian Civilisations Museum receives JPMorgan donation
For the third consecutive year, the Corporate Challenge served as a benefit for the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM). JPMorgan made a donation for each entry to the Museum's Children's Learning Corners and Dr. Kenson Kwok, director of the ACM, was on hand to accept the donation.
“We have record numbers tonight and we are saying to the world that Singapore can host such spectacular events. Our Senior Managers are thrilled to be able to showcase JPMorgan on such a great stage tonight, and we are pleased once again to be working with our beneficiary, the Asian Civilisations Museum,” said Philip Lee, Country Manager for JPMorgan Singapore and host of the Corporate Challenge.
Clearly three companies that appreciated the artistic nature of the JPMorgan donation were the winners of the T-Shirt competition. Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, KPMG, and SAP Asia designed the most creative team uniforms and will each receive a SGD $500 donation from JPMorgan to designate in their name to a charity of their choice.
Two JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge events have been held to date in calendar year 2006 and both have sold out, with Johannesburg reaching capacity on March 2. Several other events in the 2006 Series – including Chicago, Frankfurt, New York and Boston – are at or nearing capacity quickly and the Series is on target to again top 200,000 participants.
“We love it because it represents balance in your life,” said Debbie Lee, company captain for KPMG.