For the eighth time - a Series record - Jackie Kralisz of Frontier Central School District wins the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Buffalo. Photos by Joe Rosen.
Through the years, Buffalo has seen change, but kept its community spirit and magic
Results | Photo Gallery
(From left) Erie County Executive Chris Collins, JPMorgan Chase Buffalo Division President Dennis Dombek, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown celebrate the spirit at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Buffalo.
BUFFALO, June 5, 2008 — When Don Sellon, an Employee Relations manager at Moog, participated in his first JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, it was 1984 and the Celtics and Lakers were meeting in the NBA Finals.
That is absolutely the only similarity between that year and this, from a Corporate Challenge perspective.
Sellon, still the Moog team captain after all this time, celebrated his 25th year entering his colleagues at the Corporate Challenge. And what a story he had to tell about his tenure.
“When we first started, there were about 15 of us, and we agreed we would meet under a tree at Delaware Park,” Sellon smiled. “We brought a beer ball and some potato chips for after the race. We had such a good time, the next year we thought we would graduate to a card table and a few folding chairs.”
In 1984 — when Magic and Bird were the hardwood names of note — the Corporate Challenge drew 1,237 participants from 90 companies. It was just getting started, only in its fourth year, and Sellon said, “It was more of a runners' only type of race then.”
On this night, a throng of 12,399 runners and walkers (with an estimated 15,000 additional party-goers) from 421 companies filled Delaware Park. Moog had 216 employees taking part, and they all gathered in a 30 x 30 tent, with a catered meal that included pre-race snacks, a post-race dinner of pulled pork and marinated mushrooms, strawberry shortcake for dessert, and all the liquid refreshment one needed to recover from a 3.5-mile run in warm, muggy conditions.
“We take a great deal of pride in this race,” Sellon said, noting that Moog management picks up all the costs for employee participation, food and drink. “We have sent teams to participate in the Championship event in New York, so we have some very competitive runners. But we have a whole lot of people who just come out to doing something fun together. It's a perfect mix.”
And the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge has never been healthier in Buffalo. This crowd was the largest in Delaware Park since 2000, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Chris Collins were both on hand to share in the camaraderie. Brown and Collins were so captivated by the scene that they stayed nearly two hours, from a half-hour before the race right through the post-event awards ceremony.
“This shows the spirit of Buffalo,” said JPMorgan Chase Buffalo Division President Dennis Dombek. “It's such an honor to host this race every year, and flattering to see how well it is received.”
It is one of Buffalo 's most coveted titles for the top runners and this was a night for familiar champions. Chris Muldoon of Crowley Webb & Associates successfully defended his men's individual title, running a stellar 17:22 to best Matt Glynn of The Buffalo News by 51 seconds. Jackie Kralisz from the Frontier Central School District earned her eighth women's title, breaking the tape in 21:03, 24 ticks ahead of Kate Kohout, representing the Niagara Wheatfield School District.
With her eight titles, Kralisz has won more women's titles in one U.S. city than any other runner in the 32-year history of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series.
Scott Horrigan, Company Captain of Greatbatch (left in left photo) and Moog Company Captain Don Sellon (right in right photo) celebrate another year of bringing their colleagues together at Buffalo's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge.
The 74 entrants from Greatbatch — a Clarence, NY-based medical industry supplier — may not have been as fast as Muldoon or Kralisz, but they were all winners in their own right. Company captain Scott Horrigan explained that each participant received a bonus from Greatbatch in the form of cash and/or a reduction in their health insurance.
“The Corporate Challenge fits perfectly into the wellness program that we have initiated the last couple of years,” Horrigan said. “Our employees keep a log of their exercise schedule, and if they hit certain targets, they receive certain bonuses. That's a big reason why our participation here has grown from about 20 to 74 over a short period of time. And that number includes our CFO, the Senior Vice President of our largest division, and many other senior employees.”
By contrast, Erin Coyne, a first-year high school Phys Ed instructor for the Lancaster Central School District, was making her first appearance at the Corporate Challenge and was won over instantly.
“This is just an amazing event, I had absolutely no idea it was so big,” Coyne said, about an hour after she and 18 other Lancaster employees had crossed the finish line. “I was a little overwhelmed at first, particularly by the number of tents, but then I got into the spirit of it all and it was incredible.
“Being able to get out and show our pride in Lancaster, before a huge crowd like this, really makes this special.”
The participants were also running for a cause. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation made a donation for each entry to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Buffalo Prep. They also played a role locally in helping the environment. By entering the event online, taking shuttle transportation to the event, and executing proper recycling on site, the crowd helped conserve more nearly 50 million BTUs of energy — the equivalent of lighting Ralph Wilson Stadium for five Bills' home games this coming season, or to handle all the electrical needs in a single-family home for more than a year.
The creative champions were Dent Neurologic Institute, Erie Community College and Eastman Machine. They were the three winners in the T-Shirt competition and each will receive a $500 donation to charity.
Craig Rappaport of AIX Group and Arlene Kaukus were the men's and women's Most Senior Executive winners, logging times of 22:05 and 32:11 respectively.
“Magnificent,” said Mayor Brown. “This is one of the great events in the city of Buffalo.”