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From many starters comes one race winner. A Series-record crowd of 73,719 entrants starts off in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge at Frankfurt, making the race the largest in the world to date in 2008. In inset photo, Raphael Schafer wins in 15:53, the fastest time in the 2008 Series this season.
'Largest, happiest race in the world' grows into another record with 73,719 entrants in Frankfurt
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FRANKFURT, June 11, 2008 — They call it “The Friendly Competition” in the State of Hessen, a corporate bondfest designed to strengthen cohesion, trust, and communication in the workplace.
Seemingly the entire German workforce came together as one on this night as the 16th annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt set another world-record with 73,719 runners and walkers from 2,589 companies taking part under warm, gray skies.
Somehow the 3.5-mile, point-to-point race course — which starts near the historic Old Opera House and provides a jogging tour of Frankfurt 's busiest and toniest neighborhoods — was able to accommodate an additional 6,000 entrants from the 2007 total. The throng is easily the largest gathering of officially registered entrants at any foot race on the planet in 2008.
“The German economy is our guest — it is active, athletic and celebrates together for one night,” said Dr. Karl-Georg Altenburg, CEO of Germany/Austria at JPMorgan. “JPMorgan gladly recognizes, and is very proud of, the high degree of acceptance which the Corporate Challenge receives.”
Dr. Karl-Georg Altenburg, CEO of Germany/Austria at JPMorgan (right front row), makes a donation to the race beneficiary - German Sport Aid (Sporthilfe), specifically for the JPMorgan Helps: Handicapped Kids in Motion program.
The acceptance has been astounding. Since debuting in June, 1993 on a dirt path along the Main River, the Frankfurt JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge has become a country-wide phenomenon. Here is its growth pattern, in five year increments:
Not surprisingly, the largest, most influential companies in Germany came out in full force. Twenty-four of the 30 corporations listed in the German stock market index, DAX, take part in the race, including worldwide household brands Siemens, Volkswagen and BMW. The five largest teams in terms of participation were Deutsche Bank (1,747 entrants), Allianz (1,370), Lufthansa (1,186), Deutsche Telekom (947) and Continental Automotive (943).
These corporate behemoths share the 3.5-mile course with a variety of smaller businesses and local organizations from throughout the country — such as the regional tax office in Koblenz (50 miles from Frankfurt), Zertus in Hamburg (251 miles) and Zytomed in Berlin (270 miles).
A record 73,719 entrants in the 2008 race.
Growth of JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt in 5-year intervals
||527 entrants/57 companies
||13,326 entrants, 681 companies
||45,098 entrants, 1,665 companies
||73,719 entrants, 2,589 companies
Participation isn't limited to German outfits. Organizations from Switzerland and Luxembourg took part and Gary Kershaw, Sales Manager for Air New Zealand based in the United Kingdom, flew in on race day to join his colleagues on the starting line.
With the appeal of winning the world's largest race as motivation, excellent times were logged by the top runners. Raphael Schäfer, representing the Ministry of The Interior and Sport, won the men's division in a sizzling 15:53. Jenny Schulz of Deutsche Bundesbank took the women's title in 19:48.
Schäfer's effort was the fastest time in the Corporate Challenge Series to date in 2008, topping the 16:03 run by General Electric's Todd Ptacek in Chicago on May 22. Schulz is only the second woman this year to break 20 minutes, joining Nell Shields of Chicago's Grant Thornton (19:09).
“The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge is an opportunity for us to talk about other things than just plain business,” said Birte Buschbaum, team captain of AxiCorp in Friedrichsdorf, a producer of EU pharmaceuticals and generics.
One of the talking points pre- and post-race was the beneficiary donation provided by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Over 220,000 Euro (approximately $342,000 US) was donated to German Sport Aid (Sporthilfe), specifically a program entitled JPMorgan Helps: Handicapped Kids in Motion. The funds will be ear-marked to provide educational, emotional and competitive support to wheelchair fencers in Tauberbischofsheim, disabled table tennis athletes in Langen, Marburg and Bad Arolsen, and an introduction to sports for children aged 12-to-17 with various disabilities, among other initiatives.
“The support for young handicapped athletes can never be large enough,” said Sport Aid chairman of the board Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff. “A lot can be achieved with the support of a reliable partner such as JPMorgan.”
Jenny Schulz breaks the tape in 19:48 to win the female title.
All of this support caught the attention of German Federal President Horst Köhler, who gladly provided his patronage for the event. President Köhler hosted JPMorgan's Altenburg earlier this spring at a reception at Schloss Bellevue to salute the social commitment of the Corporate Challenge.
Advancing environmental awareness was also a key component of the world's largest road race. The Corporate Challenge's Teaming Up For A Greener Tomorrow initiative insured that all aspects of the event — from online registration, through shuttle transportation, production and distribution of race night materials and post-race recycling — were executed using best green practices. As a result, an estimated two tons of plastic and 1,184 gallons of crude oil were conserved (compared to the 2007 implementation of the race). Total energy savings was over 163 million BTUs, enough to light an average-sized home for nearly two years.*
Creativity was rewarded as well, with JPMorgan making donations to charity for the three winning companies in the T-Shirt competition — AxiCorp, Chemetall and Manova.
“It was wonderful to see all these companies enjoy the race, take part in post-race parties, and really enjoy being around each other,” said JPMorgan's Altenburg. “It was the largest, happiest race in the world.”
* Measurement provided by ERG, the official environmental advisor of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series.