2006 moments: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois flashed a 30-story message of encouragement to its runners (left photo).
In top right photo, David Fox, head of the JPMorgan Investment Bank, Midwest Region, smiles in the background as the YMCA's Steve Cole greets students from Libby School in Englewood. A record 19,031 participated, including four-time champion Anette Ronnerman (lower right).
Memorial Day parties start early
with Chicago's record-setting race
Official results | Photo Gallery
We invite you to re-live the 2006 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Chicago through our Bonus Photo Galleries. Click the Gallery titles below to access five sets, in addition to the Photo Gallery posted on race night.
Chicago, May 25, 2006 – Memorial Day weekend got started a day early in the Windy City with an amazing party at Grant Park.
The 25th annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Chicago attracted a record crowd of 19,031 entrants from 519 companies, a 23-percent increase from 2005. But, more than the sheer numbers, the enthusiasm and creativity were off the charts.
The Citadel Investment Group, for instance, catered a massive tent in a jungle theme, serving its 158 employees Polynesian food and Jamba Juice. The latter was well received on a humid 74-degree evening.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois was not to be outdone. It choreographed the lighting on its East Randolph Street skyscraper to read out “GO BCBS,” and all 386 of its employees beamed with pride as they ran toward the 30-story message.
There was the 80 members of the Federal Reserve Bank putting aside their conservative image for a night to design one of the three most creative team t-shirts, earning a $500 donation to charity.
“It must be the long weekend because everybody is smiling out here,” commented David Fox, head of the JPMorgan Investment Bank, Midwest Region, and the host for the evening. “It really is remarkable the crowd we have out here.”
The gathering smashed the previous Chicago record of 17,078 set on August 3, 2000. This will likely be the largest single-night Corporate Challenge event in the United States in 2006 and one of the top 10 largest U.S. crowds in the 30-year history of the Corporate Challenge Series. Since 1977, only events in New York 's Central Park have been larger in this country.
Series is enjoying explosive growth in its 30th year
This also kept alive a successful trend in the 2006 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series. All four events held thus far ( Sydney, Johannesburg, Singapore and Chicago ) have enjoyed explosive growth, and there's no end in sight. Frankfurt (June 1), Boston (June 15), New York (June 21-22) and London (July 5-6) will likely reach full capacity with entries.
“It's pretty obvious JPMorgan Chase has achieved status as a terrific corporate citizen,” said Steve Cole, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. “To have a turnout like this shows how well thought of the quality of the event is.”
The participants were all winners in getting to the starting line and being prepared to handle the 3.5-mile, out-and-back Columbus Drive course. And their efforts will be felt in the community as JPMorgan Chase made a donation for each entry to the Community School program at the Libby School in Englewood. The donation will provide academic and socialization support for Engelwood youth from kindergarten through eighth grade.
And if any of those kids grow up to be runners, they'd be wise to follow in the footsteps of the individual winners on this night – Mikhail Davidyan of Spectrum Global Fund Administration and Anette Ronnerman of American Airlines.
Ronnerman's name is familiar to anyone with a sense of Corporate Challenge history. This was her fourth consecutive Chicago title, and her sixth in 10 years. She also won the Dallas JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in 2003 and runs as tall and elegantly now as she did in 1997, the first time she broke the tape.
“Running is what I do,” said Ronnerman, after her 20:02 winning time bested Nell Shields of DePaul University by 19 seconds. “No matter where I am, what I am doing, it's something that makes me happy.”
And, believe us, Ronnerman could be anywhere at anytime. A first-class flight attendant for American, she works frequent trips to London and recently has been on journeys to New Delhi and Shanghai. “Yes, it's as exotic as it sounds,” she laughs. “I've been doing it 14 years now and it's still fun.”
Annette Ronnerman claims her fourth straight title in Chicago with a time of 20:02.
Davidyan, on the other hand, is fresh-faced. He is just six months detached from earning his accounting/finance degree at nearby University of Illinois-Chicago. This was his first Corporate Challenge.
“At work one day Mikhail pulled up the Corporate Challenge web site and said, ‘I can run kind of fast',” said Batavia (legal single name), an employment director at Spectrum Global Fund Administration. “I said, ‘OK, how fast.' And he showed me the winning time from last year's Corporate Challenge and said he could run a faster pace.
“We decided on the spot, ‘let's enter a team for Mikhail.'”
Spectrum put together six employees for its first ever Corporate Challenge and then watched in wonder as Davidyan ran an outstanding 17:39, seven seconds better than defending champion Joe Herington of General Electric. “It was like a dream come true to see Mikhail emerge from 19,000 people, a sea of humanity, and finish first,” said Batavia.
But maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising. Davidyan was a terrific runner at UIC, earning all-conference honors for three years. “I've run the lakefront ( Lake Michigan ) for the last 4 ½ years, so I knew just about every inch of this course. What a thrill to win in such a great city.”
Davidyan, fast tracked from a winter intern to a full-time accounting position, vowed to be back in 2007 with a larger contingent of employees from Spectrum. “It feels good to do something special for a company I feel very strongly about,” he said. “I've run a lot of college races, but this is the most enjoyable, special race I've had.”
Sarowitz, Billhorn defend Most Senior Executive titles
There were familiar faces in the Most Senior Executive winner's circle as Steve Sarowitz of Paylocity ( 21:07 ) and Jill Billhorn of AT&T (26:38) successfully defended their titles.
In addition to the Federal Reserve Bank there were two other companies who earned a $500 charitable donation for their creativity with team t-shirts. Thilman Filippini and Hanley Ellis Devereaux were judged two of the best from hundreds of specially-created team uniforms. Be sure to check back to www.jpmorganchasecc.com in the coming days for our expanded Photo Gallery and to view their special designs.
CDW did yeomen's work again, fielding the largest team with 578 employees. But hundreds of company captains went out of their way in not only registering their teams but also lining both sides of Columbus Drive with hospitality tents. The scene (not to mention the aroma from the barbecues) was so enticing that WBBM-TV (the local CBS affiliate) filmed a live shot from the hospitality tents for the 6 p.m. news.
The theme of the CBS piece was “Fun Things to Do This Memorial Day Weekend.” It was more than appropriate that the first event was the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.