Amy Fakterowitz, a 39-year-old fourth grade school teacher in the Amherst Central Schools, breaks the tape held by
Fred Vosburgh, Senior Vice President for JPMorgan Chase. Photos by Joe Rosen.
Success stories abound in Buffalo
at event that has become a 'happening'
Results | Photo Gallery
Past Buffalo Corporate Challenge champions Brian Lombardo of Canisius High School (20415) and David O'Keeffe of Buffalo Medical Group, P.C., observe the National Anthem.
BUFFALO, June 7, 2007 – When Crowley Webb and Associates recruited Chris Muldoon out of Syracuse University, it was his portfolio as an advertising major that attracted them.
Shortly after Muldoon joined the firm in January, the advertising agency learned of his other significant talent.
“Running cross country and track at Syracuse was a big part of my life,” Muldoon said. “I shared that with them, and they started to talk to me about the Corporate Challenge and how I had to join their team.”
A copy writer during the day, Muldoon is now an emerging talent on the Buffalo running scene. Running in his first JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge on this night, the 23-year-old Muldoon earned the men's individual title in 18:10, beating three former champions in the top five – Matt Glynn of the Buffalo News (second in 18:20), Dr. David O'Keeffe of the Buffalo Medical Group (third in 18:22) and Newfane Central Schools' Mike Heitzenrater (fourth in 19:03).
“I wasn't even looking for a job when I first spoke with Crowley Webb,” Muldoon said. “But I knew they were a very creative agency, and I guess I was in the right place at the right time. Moving to Buffalo (Muldoon is a native of Robesonia, PA, near Reading ) was a good thing for my professional career and my running, since this is a strong running community. And the Corporate Challenge is a great place to make your first serious mark.”
Indeed. The 27th annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge at Delaware Park attracted a crowd of 11,500 runners and walkers from 380 companies. That's the largest crowd at this event since 2001, but those numbers don't tell the whole story.
“We talk about how many runners we have,” said Dennis Dombek, President of the Buffalo Division for JPMorgan Chase. “But I bet there are another 30,000 people here in the park enjoying the post-race party. That's equivalent to the number of people who would go to two Buffalo Sabres hockey games. This is a happening.”
Buffalo's largest race and corporate party took place on the beautiful, lush expanse of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Delaware Park. And each participant could feel a tangible connection as the JPMorgan Chase Foundation will make a donation for each entry to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
The Conservancy, overseen by CEO Johnathan Holifield, will use the donation to initiate a “Keep it Safe, Keep it Fun” campaign that will promote safe, positive family activities at all Buffalo Olmsted parks.
Holifield joined Dombek and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on the starting stage to send the runners off on a breezy night with temperatures comfortably in the high 70's. All three network-affiliate Buffalo television stations broadcast live from the site, making stars out of runners, walkers and party-goers alike.
The celebration of competition and camaraderie is familiar to Amy Fakterowitz, a 39-year-old fourth grade school teacher in the Amherst Central Schools. Fakterowitz won her second Corporate Challenge women's title, covering the 3.5-mile out-and-back Delaware Avenue course in 21:54. Jackie Kralisz of Frontier Central Schools was the runner-up. Renee O'Keefe, a seven-time winner at the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Rochester under her maiden name Renee Rombaut, was fourth.
“My students know all about my running,” Fakterowitz smiled. “They clip all the newspaper articles out and they show a real interest. I'm starting a running program this summer for community education and a lot of my students will be taking part. That makes all this effort rewarding.”
Neither Muldoon nor Fakterowitz were in top form in the days leading into the event. Fakterowitz suffered with a sore throat and fever and Muldoon was so lethargic he visited his physician for blood work. But both came through with outstanding performances.
“You know, racing wasn't going to be a big priority for me this year,” Fakterowitz said. “I turn 40 next year, and really wanted to focus then on becoming a solid masters runner. But when the Corporate Challenge comes around, you do take it more seriously. It's a special race.”
Members of the Dent Neurologic Institute celebrate the announcement that they were one of the companies honored for their t-shirt designs.
Muldoon had longed to participate in the Corporate Challenge while he was a student at Syracuse and worked part-time at a Fleet Feet running store franchise. Now eligible in the full-time work force, he wanted to take advantage.
“My colleagues at Crowley Webb have been going nuts here since I won,” he said.
John McGrath of the Greater Buffalo Savings Bank (25:45) and Arlene Kaukus of the United Way (28:53) were the respective men's and women's Most Senior Executive winners. M&T Bank, with 411 entrants, earned the Largest Participation Award – quite a feat considering more than 300 companies had hospitality tents, many mobilizing their entire workforces to run, walk or cheerlead.
“An event like this shows the pride of the city of Buffalo,” said Mayor Brown.
It also showed its creativity. Crowley Webb's art department would have been proud of the designs submitted by the three T-Shirt contest winners – Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, Dent Neurologic Institute, and Western New York Urology Associates. All three companies will receive $500 from JPMorgan Chase to donate to the charity of their choice.
Kevin O'Neil of WGRZ-TV, Channel 2, summed up the scene in Delaware Park during a live report.
“When this race started in 1981, it had 425 participants,” O'Neil reported. “Tonight, it has almost that many companies and tents alone. It's one of the great success stories in Buffalo.”
2006 moments: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (left photo) shares a moment with two BISON Fund Scholarship recipients near the finish line of the 26th annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. The race attracted a record 249 tents and extensive media coverage in ideal conditions.
Buffalo parties, races in ideal conditions
Results | Photo Gallery
Buffalo, NY, June 8, 2006 – Buffalo just loves to party. And the 2006 corporate celebration, held on the green expanse of the city's Delaware Park, was perhaps the heartiest in the 26-year history of the event.
A record 249 corporate tents sprouted next to the Buffalo Zoo and spread into the back nine holes of the Delaware Park Golf Course. Participants arrived early, many with family members and coolers in tow. They partied hard and stayed late as rain showers that were forecast gave way to an ideal late spring night.
Among those attracted to the city's biggest corporate social event was first-year Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. He stayed for more than an hour, shaking hundreds of hands and getting into the camaraderie of the event.
“This is truly a great event for Buffalo,” he said.
It was easy to see why he was impressed. Shortly after his arrival, the mayor met young students from Catholic Academy of West Buffalo. Each was a recipient of a scholarship from the BISON Fund, one of the event's two beneficiaries. The students had just helped Buffalo Bills' football legend Steve Tasker and Dennis Dombek, President, Buffalo Division, JPMorgan Chase, hold the finish line tape for the male and female winners, and they were still all smiles. The event's other beneficiary, the Studio Arena Theatre School, also played a key role in the event operationally, as Allison Fox, a student at the school, sang the National Anthem.
For the 10th straight year, the race drew more than 10,000 entrants, meaning JPMorgan Chase made a significant contribution to the two beneficiaries. It is part of a season-long effort by JPMorgan Chase that will result in approximately $500,000 going to beneficiaries in event communities.
A great party, but a great race too
As the 10,049 runners from 366 corporate teams gathered at the start line, Gretchen Wilson's “I'm Here for the Party,” blared in the background. Runners from the Buffalo Games sported a good-natured t-shirt that said, “I'm here for the party... no one told me about the running part.” And yet, as good as the party is at Buffalo - and it may be the best year in and year out on the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge circuit - the race is also one that top runners from the Buffalo area take very seriously.
Among them on this superb night for running was Brian Lombardo. A teacher at Canisius High School, Lombardo ran 17:38 to easily win the male title. He was 22 seconds faster than Matt Glynn of the Buffalo News, and another six seconds better than former champion David O'Keeffe, of the Buffalo Medical Group.
For Lombardo, the victory was another step in a challenging effort to become an Olympic-caliber runner.
“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease six years out (November, 2000),” he said. “So far, everything has turned out great. Testing sometimes affects my running. You lose days when you have blood work or biopsies, but you deal with it.
Tod Smith is a blast from the past with his 16-year-old Corporate Challenge shirt. He wears it, he said, once a year, for this event.
“Running is something I always looked forward to. I want to quality for the (2008) Olympic Trials in the 1500, with a qualifying standard of 3:40.”
A local runner at Sweethome High School and later at Canisius College in Buffalo, he said he has run this event three times, but his youth, and later his fight with Hodgkin's Disease, prevented him from winning in the past.
“This is something I really wanted to win,” he said. “This is one of three big races in Buffalo, along with the Shamrock Run (St. Patrick's Day) and Turkey Trot (Thanksgiving) and now I have won all three.
“This event has a very different feel. I love the out-and-back races like this, because you come back and you are with the crowd, the crowd is really cheering you on as you come back.”
Meanwhile, Jen Klier of Lancaster Schools, picked up her second individual title in Buffalo, winning in 20:44, almost a half-minute ahead of Aileen Hoak of Canisius College.
“This was my best time, so it was exciting,” said Klier, who helped Lancaster Schools' Female team finish sixth in the 2005 JPMorgan Championship.
“That,” she said, “was the most exciting thing. We thought we had a shot at the top 10, then they started giving the awards out and we weren't 10th or 9th or 8th or 7th. We were sort of wondering at that point, then they announced us as 6th and we couldn't believe it. It is such a phenomenal event.”
Equally remarkable, said Klier, who credited running ahead of boyfriend Brendan during a hard 5:27 first mile with setting the stage for her victory, is Buffalo 's ability to hold a great party.
'That's just what Buffalo does. It parties'
“Buffalo is a great party town,” she said. “That just what Buffalo does. It parties.”
At the JPMorgan Chase tent, located in the middle of a sea of tents at Delaware Park, Dombek agreed.
“This event is a really good fit for Buffalo,” he said. “It combines a party, a race, and a contribution to the community.”
Obviously, he said, Buffalo responds well to the event year after year.
“People change at the companies, but Buffalo never seems to lose interest in this event,” he said. “We've had more than 10,000 runners for 10 straight years, and per capita, that's a very high percentage for a city the size of Buffalo.”
The 2006 Series, which is enjoying its 30th consecutive year, resumes Thursday, June 15, at Boston, which will celebrate its 12th straight year of sold-out crowds at the historic Boston Common.