The College of American Pathologists enjoys the relaxed and fun atmosphere of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, including its post-race barbecue in Grant Park.

The largest single-night J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in the United States will be held on Thursday, May 22 at Chicago’s Grant Park.

And Tony Smith, team captain for the College of American Pathologists, will be on the Columbus Drive starting line, along with his colleague Richard Thomas.  This will be their seventh straight Corporate Challenge, and their inspiration to enter came right from the top of the organization.

“The CAP’s involvement with the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge began in 2012 and was initiated with wholehearted support by our CEO, Stephen Myers,” Smith said. “While he’s not a runner himself, he really enjoys walking the course. The CAP’s chief marketing and communications officer, Elizabeth Usher, is an avid runner—a marathon runner actually—and since we are a health care association, participating in the Corporate Challenge fit in well with our wellness initiatives.”

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) had 13 entrants in 2012.  Thanks to Smith’s hard work behind the scenes and overall commitment across all levels of the workforce, the CAP is now pushing 70.  And it is growth like that has put Chicago in a lofty place of its own in the Corporate Challenge record books.

The 2017 Corporate Challenge drew 27,175 runners and walkers from 620 companies.  A similar crowd is expected on May 22.  That will allow Chicago to retain its spot as the largest single-night Corporate Challenge in the U.S., and second largest in the world behind Frankfurt, Germany, which will attract over 60,000 on June 7.

Smith explains that the Corporate Challenge is a perfect fit for CAP, the leading organization of board-certified pathologists. It serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for everyone who attends to interact with other professionals from all over the Chicagoland area, whether they are working in the health care arena or not,” Smith noted. “It’s also an amazing venue for our staff to build and strengthen bonds with their own co-workers. Several of our folks have even introduced running and walking into their exercise regimens because of their participation in the Corporate Challenge. This event blends so well with the CAP’s overall wellness offerings, including on-site yoga classes, chair massages, flu shots, and reduced fitness club memberships.”

CAP sweetens the pot by covering half the registration fee for its employees who complete the race, and providing a post-race barbecue within Grant Park.  And it’s not just hard-core runners that participate.  Team CAP also has walkers and many more who simply come out to root on their colleagues.

“It’s pretty much company wide,” Smith said. “Our Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Elizabeth Usher runs the course with our Vice President of Communications Mary Katherine Krause.  Stella DeAngelo works in our customer care center and really looks forward to the Challenge.  Kamilla Chmiel also runs; she’s the supervisor for our anatomic pathology and proficiency testing operations.  We all get a newly-designed t-shirt and another cool takeaway like a mini backpack, baseball cap, headband, water bottle, or some other useful item.”

In preparing for this story, Krause shared with Smith a vignette that summed up one of the key components of the Corporate Challenge – the ability to network in a non-traditional environment with clients, vendors, competitors and all others in the business community.

“Russell DeLeon is one of our staff members, and he was at the starting line ready to race and he noticed a woman standing next to him wearing an Oracle t-shirt,” Smith said. “Since the CAP is an Oracle client, it was the perfect chance for him to extend a handshake and strike up a conversation.  Those kinds of things happen all the time at the Corporate Challenge.”

And, for the CAP’s CEO, he gets to learn more about his company during his 3.5-mile walks at Grant Park each year.

“Stephen Myers told me that he has bumped into several former CAP employees at each event,” Smith said. “And his favorite part of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is the chance to interact and talk with folks he doesn’t see all the time and to build special bonds in a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.”

This year’s J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge has a 7 p.m. starting horn.  It will mark the event’s 37th running in Grant Park.