Accompanied by Fred Vosburgh of JPMorgan Chase (far left), Susan Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo (2nd from right), and Bob Ryan of JPMorgan Chase (right), Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (2nd from left) fires up the crowd before the awards ceremony. (Photos by Ken Huth)
Buffalo's 30th Chase Corporate Challenge:
Worthy of all the attention
Results | Photo Gallery
Xueqin Xue of Ecology and Environment, Inc., waves to spectators at the start of the race.
BUFFALO, June 10, 2010 — The live television trucks were there from WGRZ, WIVB, WKBW and YNN Buffalo. The Mayor and County Executive stayed from start to finish. It had more participants and spectators than any other event in the City of Buffalo thus far in 2010.
No, it wasn't a Buffalo Sabres' Stanley Cup victory parade — even though South Buffalo's own Patrick Kane did score the Chicago Blackhawks' Cup clinching goal the night before.
It was the 30th annual Chase Corporate Challenge, and it drew a crowd of 11,457 runners and walkers from 405 Western New York companies. That's 15-percent larger than the 2009 crowd and the second largest number of corporations ever.
“It's great exposure for our company,” said Kristin Grove, a graphic artist for Ecology and Environment, Inc. “To be out here with all of the best companies in Buffalo is important. This is our 40th year as a company, so we're celebrating with you.”
In addition to the people who donned bib numbers and covered the 3.5-mile course, Delaware Park was jammed with another 15,000 colleagues who partied in more than 300 corporate tents.
“This definitely is the biggest party of the year in Buffalo,” said Erie County Executive Chris Collins from the start stage.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown made sure the participants had a pristine race route. The majority of the roads had a fresh, smooth coat of asphalt making the footing sure and the times fast.
“That was a project that was in the pipeline,” Mayor Brown said. “But we made sure it was done in time for the Chase Corporate Challenge. This is an important event for the City of Buffalo and we wanted to make sure the runners had the best possible environment.”
The Mayor was on hand in a dual role. He also serves as the Board Co-Chairman of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo, which was the event beneficiary. The JPMorgan Chase and PAL collaborated on a project in which 30 students in the PAL program will receive summer employment. “With state and federal cuts,” Mayor Brown said, “this beneficiary donation is more important than ever in insuring our youth have strong work opportunities.”
The Corporate Challenge first visited Buffalo in 1981, drawing 425 participants from 60 companies. Tom Donnelly was the one of the runners that night, and he was at the starting line again on this cool, overcast evening, representing Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Donnelly has either run or helped organize each of the 30 Corporate Challenges.
Chris Muldoon of Crowley Webb heads for victory in the 30th annual Buffalo Chase Corporate Challenge. He won by eight seconds over Brian Lombardo of Sweet Home Central School (in far right corner of photo).
Through those years, Donnelly has run with some great champions. And this era's best is Chris Muldoon. Running for advertising firm Crowley Webb, Muldoon won his fourth consecutive Chase Corporate Challenge men's title, breaking the tape in 17:40. He won a duel with Brian Lombardo of Sweet Home Central Schools, who was clocked in 17:48. No other runner was within a half-minute of the duo.
Maura Frauenhofer, making her Corporate Challenge debut, earned the women's title in 19:52, representing Catholic Health System. She was 21 seconds better than a terrific former champion of this race, Allison Carr of the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office.
While Muldoon and Frauenhofer put in great work on the course, Michael Swain and Phyllis Gentner of Kaleida Health turned in Olympian efforts in advance. They registered a whopping 626 Kaleida employees, easily besting the Buffalo Public Schools (342) in the race for the Largest Participation Award. Ingram Micro (308), M&T Bank (292), Catholic Health (288), Moog (194), HSBC (190), Wegmans (189), University at Buffalo (178), and Fisher Price (157) also had very healthy gatherings.
And Swain captured the spirit of the Corporate Challenge well in quotes published on race day in The Buffalo News.
“We are five different hospitals, and a lot of different locations and we get together once a year for this,” Swain told the News' Budd Bailey. “Some of our (626) will be there for the running, some for the camaraderie, some to spend time with their co-workers. Some will never leave the tent.”
Wearing lucky number 7777, Jocelyn Mcentire of New England Financial leads a group of runners to the finish line at the 2010 Buffalo Chase Corporate Challenge.
Lactalis American Group and Tetra Tech designed the most clever company t-shirts, and each will receive a $1,000 donation from Chase to donate to the charity of their choice.
The three fastest companies will receive a significant prize — a trip to Singapore. The first-place men's, women's and mixed teams will be invited to compete in the 2011 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, in that magnificent Asian city. Official results will be posted after the eligibility status of the top runners is confirmed. Participants in the Corporate Challenge must be actively employed, working a minimum of 25 hours a week for at least three months prior to race day for the company they are representing. Temporary employees, employees on leave, and sub-contractors are not eligible.
That unique eligibility element is what makes the Corporate Challenge unique compared to other road races. “It is something,” Ecology and Environment's Grove said, “that we all like doing together as a company.”
(For comments on JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series features, or suggestions for feature stories, please contact Alan Tieuli at firstname.lastname@example.org)