Boston’s historic Back Bay was a picturesque backdrop as a sold-out crowd of 9,000 runners competed in the 34th running of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.

In a city and region full of tradition, one of the modern-day trends is the success of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.

The Boston version of the global celebration of workplace fitness and camaraderie has become one of the most difficult tickets in town.  The 34th version of the 3.5-mile Back Bay team road race attracted a sell-out crowd of 9,000 runners from 361 companies.  It was the 23rd consecutive year the event has reached full capacity.

“It’s one of the most anticipated events for our employees,” said American Tower company captain Lynne Sprague. “Many participants are repeat runners and walkers and there is always a real sense of team camaraderie.  The energy of the day is felt from the moment the team meets before the race to when they join all the other runners on the Boston Common.”

American Tower was one of nine companies to enter 100 or more employees in the event, joining Brown Brothers Harriman, Wayfair, Fidelity, Eaton Vance, Wellington Management, Santander, LogMeIn and Putnam Investments. 

“Our team is usually full a half-hour after we send out the invitation to our colleagues to enter,” said Sprague.

The sell-out crowd put forth full effort on a comfortably cool evening for a first-year beneficiary.  J.P. Morgan will donate specifically to the Every Child Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital.  The donation will help Children’s Hospital propel research that transforms treatments for the most stubborn diseases and will help provide compassionate care to every family that comes through Boston Children’s doors, easing their burden and covering services insurance won’t pay for.

Dick Argys, Chief Administrative Officer of Boston Children’s Fund, was a special guest at the race and held the finish-line tape for the first-place runners.

On this night, the swiftest were a pair of first-time winners in Boston.  Andrew Erskine, representing TripAdvisor, race over the 3.5-mile race course in 16:54, a fantastic 4:49 pace.  He bested second-place finisher Jason Ayr of Wolverine Worldwide (17:01) and Michael Carlone of Wayfair (17:05).  Ayr and Carlone both ran times fast enough to win this race in 2016.

The top women times were equally impressive.  Emma Spencer of Maxwell Health raced at a 5:37 pace, breaking the finish-line tape in 19:42.  Victoria Barnaby from sports lifestyle brand ’47 was second in 19:54, and Jessie Petersen was close behind in third at 20:07.

Erskine and Spencer have the fastest men’s and women’s times through six races in the 2017 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series.  The flat out-and-back course on Commonwealth Avenue, combined with the ideal running conditions, certainly helped.  But these were two amazing efforts deserving to be top of the charts so far in 2017.

Motivation for companies to enter the Corporate Challenge takes many shapes, as illustrated by sports footwear and apparel giant Reebok.

“At Reebok headquarters, we live and breathe the very same fitness lifestyle that our consumers do, and we aspire to be the fittest company in the world,” said Reebok’s company captain Hillary Gabso. “Every year our employees are eager to sign up for this exciting hometown Challenge…but this year is special.  Later this year, Reebok’s headquarters is moving to the Seaport District.  We’re eager to become more closely connected with Boston’s fitness community as well as some of our corporate neighbors.”

Kelly Reardon, Manager of Facilities and Events at LogMeIn, with headquarters in Boston, said the weeks leading into the Corporate Challenge was a great bonding experience for her colleagues.

“We’ve been participating in the Corporate Challenge since 2008 for the fun competition and camaraderie,” Reardon said. “This year, we had our largest group yet with 100 runners.  To prepare, our Wellness team hosted fun runs twice a week, in the morning and midday, to run/train with like-minded colleagues.  Those runs created buzz against employees who ran previous Corporate Challenges, and served as a great opportunity to encourage others to sign up.  We also always create LogMeIn t-shirts for employees to wear during the Challenge to represent the company as a united team.”

It’s now time for the best full-time working runners in the world to come together!  The 2017 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship will be held on Tuesday, June 13 in Frankfurt, Germany.  Thirty-nine teams from all 13 cities in the Corporate Challenge Series will compete on the same night as the regularly-scheduled J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt.