Under ideal conditions, men's champion Chris Muldoon of Crowley Web (center in red shirt) leads out the field in the 29th annual Chase Corporate Challenge in Buffalo. Muldoon won his third straight title, breaking the tape in 17:24. In lower right photo, Jenny Acker becomes the women's champion with a time of 20:19.
Men's champ fits company shirt to a "T";
Corporate party enjoys ideal weather
Results | Photo Gallery
Purnima Mohan (3078) or Rich Products came prepared for her run with a camera and cell phone, while Darleen Michalak, Deputy Superintendent and COO for Erie 1 BOCES, (below) is a long-time supporter of fitness in the workplace.
BUFFALO, June 4, 2009 — The company t-shirt featured a photo of two-time defending Chase Corporate Challenge Chris Muldoon on the front. The back read “Crowley Webb: Home of Western New York's fastest copy writer.”
Muldoon lived up to the billing, much to the delight of his 31 Crowley Webb ad agency colleagues. They cheered in full throat for him as he accepted the Tiffany Award after capturing his third straight Corporate Challenge title.
“They asked me if I minded them making the shirt,” Muldoon smiled. “I said I don't mind, but you won't catch me wearing it too often. But it is a good looking shirt, I will say that.”
Muldoon was a familiar face at the front of the pack at the 29th annual Chase Corporate Challenge in Buffalo, covering the 3.5-mile North Buffalo course in 17:24 to defeat Brian Lombardo of Canisius High School by 24 seconds. But there were plenty of newcomers.
Of the 9,859 participants from 390 companies, 99 were from first-time participating outfits. And an estimated 20,000 people enjoyed idyllic weather for the post-race party in Delaware Park.
One of the fresh faces was Jenny Acker of the Amherst Central Schools. Fueled by the momentum of her May 23 wedding to her beloved Robert, the honeymooner raced away with her first-ever Chase women's individual title. Her winning time of 20:19 bested Kate Kohout of the Niagara Wheatfield Schools by more than a minute (21:11).
“We actually haven't gone on a honeymoon yet because we had to wait for the Chase Corporate Challenge,” said Acker. Then she fessed up to the real reason.
“I'm a high school math teacher and we have about three weeks left in school,” she said. “On June 30 we are off to Mexico.”
The long-range winner of the event will be the Buffalo urban and green landscapes. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation will make a donation for each entry to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, with the funds being allocated for their Groundwork Buffalo project, to revitalize underutilized, vacant or Brownfield properties. Financial support through the event was also provided to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy's Keep it Safe, Keep it Fun, Keep it Green initiative.
One of the 99 new companies was Hebeler Corporation, which has provided custom fabrication from its Tonawanda headquarters for 70 years. Company captain Jill Frommer, who works on the shop floor, was thrilled to organize a 21-person Hebeler team.
“I was really looking forward to this since we have a lot of people from the front office on our team,” Frommer said. “On the shop floor, you don't get to see the people out front that often. This provides a unique opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better.”
Frommer and her colleagues made their Corporate Challenge debut in style, designing a creative Hebeler shirt that was chosen as a winner in the T-Shirt competition. Cliffstar and Tetra Tech were the other winners in the showdown of style and each earned a $500 donation to the charity of their choice.
A long-time supporter of the Corporate Challenge has been Erie 1 BOCES Health Trust. Last year, the Health Trust covered the cost for a hospitality tent for school districts participating in the race. This year, the Health Trust brought back the tent, a catered buffet, and will also reimburse the Corporate Challenge entry fee for Health Trust enrollees.
“Many of the districts do not have money to cover the costs of a hospitality tent,” explained Darleen Michalak, Deputy Superintendent and COO for Erie 1 BOCES. “And some people are hesitant to spend the registration fee if they are encountering personal financial challenges. The Trust is helping to offset some of these costs to promote healthy lifestyles to our members.”
It wasn't difficult for company captain Michael Swain to convince his Kaleida Health colleagues on the benefits of participating in Western New York 's largest road race. Kaleida had a whopping 659 participants on the Amherst Street starting line, nearly three times the size of the second largest company, Ingram Micro (225 entrants).
Amherst Central Schools placed three runners in the top five finishers, including former champion Amy Fakterowitz, left, (third in 21:36) and champion Jenny Acker (with Tiffany trophy).
Company captains like Swain are the lifeblood of the Corporate Challenge, and three others were tangibly rewarded in a random drawing by Series co-sponsor American Airlines. Jennifer Bell of West Seneca Teachers Association, Robert Moore of Clarence Central Schools and Amber Taylor of Uniland Development Company gained a pair of round-trip tickets to any U.S. or Caribbean destination that American services.
Back to the actual competition, Muldoon knew his competition well. Lombardo and third-place finisher Chris Mattingly of law firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria are his regular training partners. But after he took it out with a 4:50 first mile, it was clearly Muldoon's night.
“My training has been up and down,” he said. “Dead of winter was really good. But ironically when it started to get warmer, I got sick. This is my first race since March and I'm looking at it as a good start for plenty of racing this summer.”
Acker, who was ninth in the women's race last year (when she was known as Jenny Koeppel), was not expecting victory on this night. “I was just expecting to run with my (Amherst) teammates,” she said. “There are a lot of good women runners in Buffalo.”
But the Amherst teachers were dominant. Besides Acker's first-place finish, former Corporate Challenge champ Amy Fakterowitz was third (21:36) and Joelle Mann took fifth (21:53).
“I help coach the middle school cross country team, and we have some stud runners coming up that can help the high school team,” Acker said. “And I think they have a pretty good idea now that I can run a little bit too.”
There were two new winners in the Most Senior Executive category, with Bobby Hutton of Integrys Energy Services earning the men's title in 22:03 and Terese Scofido of Cantalician Center for Learning earning the women's MSE crown in 36:01.
The efforts of all the participants were captured in dozens of live television shots by the four major Buffalo television stations and cheered on by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Chris Collins as the evening lived up to its billing as Western New York's corporate social outing of the season.