Clad in brown shirts, Bloomingdale's gathers for a group photo before the start of the 32nd annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park on June 18 (top). Spectators didn't let a little rain get in the way of photos (lower left). In lower right photo, Michael Belicose of American Express has an umbrella caddy, while Tony Testa (8717 in middle lower photo), Mark Levine (8676) and Michael Groen (8732) of Prudential Douglas Elliman find some pre-race sun. (Tom Coat photos)
For 32nd year, New York firms embrace spirit
of Corporate Challenge in Central Park
Results | Photo Gallery
NEW YORK, June 18, 2008 — Pat Lefler, a product marketer for Wall Street Systems by day, was relaxing pre-race in a hospitality tent at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park. While awaiting the delivery of a catered food order for his 25 registered colleagues, he was glad to talk about the unique atmosphere at this 3.5-mile foot race/festival.
Living up to a shirt designed by colleagues, Karl Dusen finds the third time is indeed a charm as he claims a three-peat title at New York.
“It's nice for us to take our suits off and see people outside of work,” Lefler said. “We do this in Singapore, Frankfurt, London and at our home in New York. It's a little camaraderie, a little competition, and looking forward to this night gets us through the dreary months of March and April.”
Lefler then noted his favorite part of the event was observing the different t-shirts companies don at the starting line. “It provides a bit of identity for each company,” he said. “It's interesting the amount of work and creativity everybody puts into it.”
And, on this night, one t-shirt kept its promise.
Karl Dusen, a performance measurement analyst for AIG Investments, had won the men's individual title at this race in 2006 and 2007. So his colleagues — secretly — designed a t-shirt for 2008 that read “Going For the Crown, Third Time Around.”
“I was embarrassed when I first saw it,” Dusen said. “But then I realized that it would be smart to live up to the shirt and win the race.”
He did. Dusen covered the beautiful Central Park course in 17:28, besting Ryan Hays of Levy & Halperin by eight seconds to earn his three-peat. He is the only runner in the worldwide JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series to currently hold a three-year winning streak in an event.
Dusen was the swiftest in a sold-out crowd of 15,000 participants from 299 companies in the first of two nights of racing, networking and partying off the Sheep Meadow in the world's most famous park. It marked the 32nd consecutive year that JPMorgan Chase had operated the Corporate Challenge and no-one complained about the race time wind and rain.
Shortly after the first women's finisher, Kathleen Jobes of Rodale Press, crossed the finish line in an impressive 19:31, the precipitation had stopped and the post-race party was on. Jobes — who was 23 seconds in front of an inspired second-place effort by Megan Guiney of Real Estate Capital Partners — got to celebrate her victory with 121 teammates from Rodale, a company that has traveled to this event from Emmaus, Pennsylvania since the 80's.
The rain has stopped and Alison Frenz of Ogilvy is happy as she nears the finish.
“This is a tough ticket to get,” said Bloomingdale's company captain Paul Kanterman. “But it's worth the effort. The minute the registration for hospitality opens in February, we're ready to go. We don't want to miss this.”
Kanterman and his teammates wore “Little Brown T-Shirts” to reinforce the branding on Bloomy's famous shopping bags, so prevalent a few blocks east on Lexington Avenue.
“The spirit of teamwork and bonding with your colleagues, along with pride for your company is what drives this,” Kanterman said.
And, now, pride for the environment. As part of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge's Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow initiative, a donation was made for each entry to the Central Park Conservancy, the organization that preserves the majesty of the emerald rectangle. The sold-out crowd did its part to keep the Park green. By entering online, walking or taking alternative transportation to the site, or properly disposing of trash in omnipresent recycling center throughout the staging area, the participants helped the Corporate Challenge save more than 145 million BTUs, enough equivalent energy to light a standard size home for nearly two years.
The “green theme” obviously played well with companies, as many of the t-shirts sported the Teaming Up theme. The three winners in the creative T-Shirt contest — each receiving a $500 donation to charity — were The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/ARTstor, Leviton Manufacturing and Random House.
The Dreyfus Corporation chose a motto for its running garb that read “Team Running With Pride.” It was the 20th year that Dreyfus participated in the Corporate Challenge.
“We like this because we get to meet with people from other departments and forge a relationship,” said Dreyfus company captain Maryann O'Mahony, who works in investment accounting. “We meet people here, and then when we see them at work, the relationship is developed and the work gets off on the right foot.
“It helps us externally also because people can see how proud we are to work at a great company like Dreyfus.”
There was great pride shown from the two winners of the Most Senior Executive category as Keith Pepper of Hitwise (19:50) and Lori Roth of Ashley Capital (24:12) earned Tiffany awards for being the first bosses to break the tape.
“It is a great experience to win a race representing your company,” said AIG's Dusen. “It's unlike any other experience you have as a runner. You race with a little extra sense of purpose because you know you have colleagues that want you to do well.”
With the sold-out crowd in Central Park, the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series remains on the mark to top 240,000 in total participation for the first time. Each event in the Series this year has met or exceeded its 2007 entry totals, showing how vital the event is, despite the economic condition.
“No matter what company you work at, you probably don't get a chance to spend a lot of time out of the office with your colleagues,” Lefler said. “This is that chance and, as your numbers show, it is very much welcome.”