Katharina Heining of Polizei Hessen celebrates as she nears the finishing line tape.
FRANKFURT, June 14, 2012 — The evening before, Die Fressgasse on Great Bockenheimer Street was lined with football fans, the locals rejoicing as they watched their beloved Germany defeat the Netherlands in the European Championships.
Tonight, race night, the Olympic theme played on the start stage.
“It’s a special time, a very meaningful two days for Germans,” said Dr. Karl-Georg Altenburg, J.P. Morgan’s CEO for Germany/Austria.
Indeed. One day after Mario Gomez scored both goals to fuel Germany and thrill the soccer fans, figure skating legend Katarina Witt sent off 68,586 runners from 2,761 companies in the 20th annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
The attendance made this the largest road race in the world thus far in 2012 and the number of companies qualifies this as the largest Corporate Challenge ever held.
“More than ever at J.P. Morgan, it is important for us to be seen as part of German society,” said Altenburg. “The Corporate Challenge does that for us. It’s an immediate recognition point.”
This special anniversary year truly illustrated that point. Witt — a 1984 and 1988 Olympic gold medalist — was on hand representing event beneficiary German Sports Aid. She charmed a large contingent of photographers and reporters in front of Frankfurt’s iconic Old Opera Plaza an hour before the race flag-off, creating even more buzz for an event that already had a reputation of being one-of-a-kind in Germany.
Altenburg let the media know that J.P. Morgan, in celebration of the Corporate Challenge, donated a total of 247,000 Euro (approximately $310,000US) to German Sports Aid. Now in the sixth year of its Corporate Challenge partnership, J.P. Morgan has donated approximately 1.3 million Euros, primarily to programs that support young athletes with disabilities.
One of the more visible programs will be a Paralympic Summer Youth Camp in London this August and September, immediately following the Summer Olympic games. Witt and her eponymous Foundation supports that effort.
Some of the 68,586 runners navigate the course with the Opera Plaza in the distance.
And Witt was thrilled to find such an enthusiastic partner as J.P. Morgan, and an event as large as the Corporate Challenge, to promote the camp.
“I had heard a lot of about the Corporate Challenge,” Witt said, her smile today still as charismatic as when she was winning Olympic gold in ’84 (Sarajevo) and ’88 (Calgary). “I certainly enjoy being here raising awareness for the youth camp.
“I still regard myself as an active athlete,” Witt continued. “Sport is still my life and when I attend an enormous event like this, and see how many people looked forward to it, I get very enthusiastic.”
Altenburg reinforced Witt’s point by noting that hosting an event as large as the Corporate Challenge brings great responsibility.
“We treat the fact that we have the trust of the public as a blessing,” Altenburg said. “And the last six years we have donated approximately 1.3 million Euros to German Sports Aid, which means all these participants have done something truly meaningful.”
CELEBRATORY RACE COURSE
Since debuting in 1993, the Corporate Challenge has become an unofficial holiday in the largest city in the State of Hessen, and a travel destination for businesses throughout Germany. Companies from 328 cities and towns were on the starting line. The runners (two-thirds of the field were men) took off from two different start lines and it took 50 minutes for the last starter to cross the starting line.
The 5.6km course was a cavalcade of sounds and activities. Thousands of spectators lined the sidewalks through Frankfurt’s busiest streets, using noisemakers, waving home-made banners and generally making a New Year’s Eve-style ruckus as the runners raced and jogged (very few walk here) by.
Clearly carried along by the scene were the winners, both law enforcement officials — Manuel Stockert of Polizei Wurzburg and Katharina Heining of Polizei Hessen.
Manuel Stockert of Polizei Wurzburg nears the finish as the men's champion.
Stockert’s winning time was an impressive 16:31 and he edged Erik Somssich of Helvetia Versicherungen by 12 seconds Volkswagen’s Markus Jahn also crossed the finish line under 17 minutes in 16:59.
(For comments on JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series features, or suggestions for feature stories, please contact Alan Tieuli at email@example.com)
“I’ve been training quite a bit recently preparing for the German 10K Championships,” Stockert, a 2-time German Half-Marathon champion said. “The enormous amount of spectators really played a role in my time. They were exceptionally motivating.”
Heining ran easily the fastest women’s time to date in the 2012 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series, breaking the tape in 19:02. Fraziska Schombs of VDE Verband der Elektrotechnik ran a great race, but was well behind in 19:49. Domenika Weiss of Bereitschaftspolizei Sulzabach-Rosenberg took the “bronze” in 2012.
“We’re off to the River Main now with my colleagues for a large party,” Heining, the 2010 Cologne Marathon champ, said. “It was hard not to be motivated to win this race. What an unbelievable setting, from start to finish.”
Fiat, Moody’s and Edora were judged to be the most creative companies, as they were voted the best t-shirts at www.facebook.com/frankfurtcorporatechallenge. Showing a new wrinkle for the 20th year of the race, it was the first year the contest was judged by the general public on the popular social media site.
For more information on this record-breaking event, please visit our German site at www.jpmccc.de.
The 36th season of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series continues on Tuesday, June 19 with the 30th running of the Syracuse JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, benefiting the American Red Cross of Central New York.