In a race decided by a second, Caitlin Tormey smiles as she breaks the tape ahead of Katrina Melville.
NEW YORK, June 19, 2008 — It was a sun-splashed evening in Central Park, and if there was a glare from the starting stage it came from the $25,000 Tiffany-designed rings worn by the very special guests.
The second night of the 32nd annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge was a celebration one of the greatest upsets in football history — the New York Giants' 17-14 Super Bowl triumph over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. And representing the champs were co-owner Steve Tisch and ferocious defensive end Justin Tuck.
Both the boss and his star player had on their bling — gorgeous Super Bowl rings worthy of a champion. “These signify,” Tisch said, modeling the ring for cameras, “that anything is possible with great team work and dedication.”
It was that exact message that resonated with the sold-out crowd of 15,000 participants from 346 companies at the second of back-to-back Corporate Challenge events. Each runner or walker was there for the glory of their company, and while their final rewards may have been a bit more modest than a Tiffany ring (a finisher t-shirt and replenishing food and drink), it was just as meaningful.
“I like this event because it makes our employees feel more part of corporate culture, like they are part of something important,” said Wes Card, CEO of Jones Apparel Group. “We are a company, and not just about products and making money. We're a company about people and other things in people's lives. That's really important.”
Card, a native New England, wasn't ashamed to admit in front of his 148 colleagues that he really would have preferred if the Patriots had won the Super Bowl. But that didn't diminish his respect for the Giants.
“They were the better team and deserved to win,” Card said. “And this city deserves a champion. It was great to have them here tonight.”
Matt Forys of BlackRock comes home a winner as he breaks the tape held by New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, defensive end Justin Tuck, and John Duffy of JPMorgan Private Bank.
Tuck, who terrorized Tom Brady in the Super Bowl with two sacks, six overall tackles and several rushed throws, took special pride in turning from athlete to spectator.
“This is the greatest sports town in the world, the best fans I have ever played for,” Tuck said. “I'm happy to root for them all tonight, and I also have a message. We're not going to stop at one Super Bowl. We're going to create a dynasty.”
About a half-hour after making that statement, Tuck held the finish line tape for a pretty impressive athlete — rat race rookie Matt Forys of BlackRock. He broke the tape in 17:25 to win the men's division, besting Frank Corrigan of Thomson Reuters by a mere five seconds.
A former collegiate standout at Bucknell in both cross country and track, Forys was participating in his debut Corporate Challenge, one year out of college. He enjoys how he can share his passion and talent for running with his BlackRock workmates.
“I think a lot of people in my office think I'm a little weird,” Forys smiled. “They know it takes a lot of commitment to run well. In ways it has helped them to be motivated to work out more. It would be great if my running positively affects someone else in the company.”
Wes Card, CEO of Jones Apparel Group, (center) with some of his happy team members at the post-race party in Central Park.
Caitlin Tormey of Christie's Auction House won the women's division in a close duel with Katrina Melville of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking. Tormey — a sub three-hour marathoner and former Princeton mainstay — broke the tape just one second ahead of Melville, a big smile across her face. It was ironic that Tisch was holding the tape wearing a Michael Strahan jersey. Strahan's smile is one of the more charismatic in New York sports. On this night, so was Tormey's.
Each runner did his or her part for the environment through 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 and the sold-out crowd showed proper respect for the world's greatest park. Over 12,000 of the entrants took advantage of a free, one-year trial membership to the Conservancy. Responsible actions in registration (paper-free), transportation (more than 10,000 indicated in advance that they would walk, biked or take public transportation to the site) and recycling saved more than 145 million BTUs, enough equivalent energy to light a standard size home for nearly two years.
That struck a chord with Joseph Ingrassia, the Managing Member of Capstone Business Credit.
“I'm a total green guy,” Ingrassia said, pointing to his company's t-shirt, which sported a green theme and was one of the three winners in the creative t-shirt competition. “I have solar panels on my house, geothermal heat in the ground. We have clients in the garment business that use bamboo and grasses for fabric. It's an important part of our lives.”
Buro Happold and Dreier LLP were the other selections in the t-shirt contest. All three companies earn a $500 donation to make to the charity of their choice.
Richard Presutti of Schulte, Roth & Zabel and Sandy Weinbaum of AED were the men's and women's winners of the Most Senior Executive category, accepting their awards as the sun set brilliantly in the distance and post-race parties at more than 300 demarcated hospitality sites went on.
The Corporate Challenge has become one the toughest tickets in town. All hospitality spots were accounted for within a week after the opening of registration, all other entries were filled within a half-hour.
“I was honored to be invited to speak here,” Tisch, who knows a little bit about sell-out crowds at the Meadowlands, said. “The Corporate Challenge has been going strong for years, and it defines New York in a lot of ways. These are our fans out here. It wasn't an obligation to attend this. It was really an honor.”