On an ideal night for running in Chicago, companies took advantage of the conditions to have some fun in Grant Park. In the top left photo, Kelly Ritchie of TransUnion (18453) gets ready to enjoy a post-race meal. In the top right photo, AON company captain Alex Luna shares a smile with a colleague. And, above, Michael Cipriani (4042) finishes a few strides ahead of Caterpillar teammate Josh Nolke.
29th Chicago Corporate Challenge
marked by growth, good times
Results | Photo Gallery
Heather Prekop representing Euromonitor International breaks the tape held by
Kate Maehr, Executive Director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository (left), and Amy Fahey (right), President of Midwest Middle Market Banking, Chase. Photos by Aynsley Floyd.
CHICAGO, May 27, 2010 — Growth was the name of the game at the 29th annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge® on a comfortable, windy night in Chicago's Grant Park.
Total participation was 19,865 runners and walkers from 557 Chicagoland businesses, a 16-percent improvement over the 17,007 that gathered in 2009. And, judging from the reaction of several companies, corporate pride is on the upswing too.
“You see the whole Aon group running together and you get all teary-eyed cheering them on,” said Aon Corporation company captain Alex Luna.
Luna, along with her co-captain Beth Gallagher, had projected 120 participants from Aon, a global provider of risk management services. The duo quickly realized they had underestimated the thirst that their colleagues had for this 3.5-mile run/walk two blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan.
“We ended up with 198 runners and walkers, including several members of our senior management and employees from both our downtown and Glenview offices,” Luna said. “The Corporate Challenge is one of those events that our employees just love to participate in, and there are a lot of connections made. People I don't ever see from the Glenview office come up to me here and say ‘I talk to you all the time on the phone; this is what you look like!' It really helps build a bond.”
Caterpillar is one of the bellwethers of the Corporate Challenge, having entered for 27 consecutive years, starting in 1984 when Chicago was a tidy little race of 5,000. Last year, as the economy slipped, the Peoria-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment saw its participation drop to 200. “Cat” was back with a vengeance this year, attracting 305 to the Columbus Drive starting line.
“This year we announced a ‘Cat Crew Team Growth Challenge',” noted Caterpillar team captain John Horvat. “First time participants were entered into a drawing for prizes and any return participant who recruited someone new was also entered in the drawing. We're pleased to announce that attracted 192 new entrants.”
Why does Caterpillar continue, decade after decade, to put in such an effort to attract its participants to the Corporate Challenge? Not just in Chicago, but also Singapore and Frankfurt?
“The Corporate Challenge offers a fantastic opportunity within a large organization to bring folks together with a common healthful interest for camaraderie and networking,” Horvat explained. “And our team is comprised of all levels of runners and walkers and has strong management support.”
Caterpillar brought some talent to the racecourse, evidenced by Joe Every, who finished fifth overall in the men's race, with an impressive time of 18:17. Jenny Every was fourth in the women's competition at 20:16.
The overall winners were Bob Mathews of RBS (18:04) and Heather Prekop (19:20), representing Euromonitor International. It was the first Corporate Challenge triumph for either runner.
“I've won races before, but never one of this size,” enthused Prekop, who topped Jean Marinangeli of Porsche by 10 seconds in the women's competition. Bob Mathews of RBS was second among men in 18:04.
The lead runners in a field of 19,865 participants start their run.
Showing that even an experienced event like the Corporate Challenge can learn new tricks, the winning times were clocked by the ChronoTrack Timing System, using the B-Tag timing chip. This was the first time Chicago had utilized chip timing, which is also being tested at several other Corporate Challenge events this year.
A staple of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Chicago is its partnership with a worthy beneficiary. This year the Greater Chicago Food Depository received a donation for each entry and the participating companies contributed generously to advance, online and on-site food drives, with a goal of collecting 20,000 pounds of food for distribution at a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
TransUnion, one of the nation's largest consumer credit reporting agencies, was another enthusiastic supporter of the event, attracting 121 total participants on a night ideal for racing.
“We make this all-inclusive, whether you are advanced, beginner or intermediate in fitness,” said Ronald Lynch, TransUnion's captain. “For people that are not interested in running at all, we encourage them to just come out and walk. For us, it's all about just getting people out here to be a part of it.
“Things like this are important to us at TransUnion,” Lynch continued. “Fitness is the center of your livelihood and your productivity in the workplace. Our participation gets people excited about doing good for themselves, and that is very rewarding in the long run.”
In addition to the fleet Ream and Prekop, special awards were taken home by the most prodigious and creative. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois fell into the former category, earning the Largest Participation Award for attracting 603 employees to the event. Bovis Lend Lease and Miller Coors earned the latter description for designing the most creative and environmentally-conscious t-shirts.
Three Chicago companies will also earn the right to race in exotic Singapore next spring in the 2011 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championship. The first-place men's, women's and mixed teams will earn the trip. Check back to this site in the coming weeks for the full, official team results.
The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series is now in the midst of its busy U.S. stretch, with a visit to Rochester, New York on Thursday, June 3 up next.