A sold-out crowd of 15,000 entrants enjoyed a sun-splashed evening of fitness and camaraderie at the 42th year of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park.

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park holds special memories for NYU Langone Health.

A premier academic medical center, NYU Langone’s East River campus was immensely damaged by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.  But the employees safely evacuated and transferred each patient.  And, nearly eight months later, they bonded together again.

“It was at the Corporate Challenge (in June 2013),” said NYU Langone Health team captain Ilene Masser.  “We celebrated our heroism and spirit on our team t-shirts with the word ‘Unbroken,’ a testament to our organization’s strength and perseverance.”

And NYU Langone Health has built upon that to form one of the largest teams in the Corporate Challenge.  There were 210 employees on hand tonight – the first of consecutive evenings of racing and partying in Central Park – in beautiful late spring conditions.

“From the start, our organization’s participation in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge was spearheaded by our dean and CEO, Dr. Robert I. Grossman, himself an avid runner and champion of promoting healthy behaviors,” Masser said. “The NYU Langone Health team is driven by the same enthusiasm, and a collective team spirit that is palpable. Each year several hundred employees come together for a wonderful evening of fun and camaraderie. And once you have participated in the Corporate Challenge, it becomes something you want to be part of year after year!”

This marked the 42nd consecutive year the Corporate Challenge has been conducted in Central Park.  The first one – on July 13, 1977 – drew 200 runners from 50 companies.  This one had a sold-out (in less than one day) gathering of 15,000 runners and walkers from 329 companies over six start waves.

NYU’s Masser summed up the appeal of the Corporate Challenge nicely.

“As our team captain for each of the Corporate Challenge races, I consider this one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work,” Masser said. “It’s a win-win for everyone – our runners, walkers, and volunteers. From the time we begin promoting registration up through race night, there is a collective smile among the coordinators and participants, leading up to a great evening in Central Park.”

Speaking of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed gem this 3.5-mile race was conducted in, J.P. Morgan will donate to the Central Park Conservancy on behalf of all Corporate Challenge participants.  That gesture resonated with HSBC.  The multinational banking and financial services company registered 650 employees, the third largest team in the race behind American Express (997 entrants) and Morgan Stanley (661).

“This is our biggest team yet,” said Seth Bender, S.V.P. & Associate General Counsel at HSBC, the team captain, and the author of an impressive 19:25 finishing time on this night. “We’re especially happy to contribute to the Central Park Conservancy, a cause that is close to our hearts. HSBC is strongly committed to New York City, a place where we do more business and have a bigger employee footprint than anywhere else in the U.S. With such a large presence it’s important to us to give back, and we’re happy that we can show support for a piece of New York that makes the city truly special.”

HSBC has increased its participation three-fold in the last four years, Bender explained, largely due to champions in senior management at the firm, specifically COO Vic Severino and Thierry Roland from Global Banking and Markets.

Individual champions on the race course in the sold-out race were Matthew Forys of New York Road Runners and Meghan Bishop from the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Forys, who also won an individual men’s title here in 2012 running for BlackRock, broke the finish-line tape in 17:15 (4:55 pace), just a couple of strides ahead of J.P. Morgan’s Sean Swift (17:17). Luis Porto, also representing New York Road Runners, was third in 17:52.

Bishop, earning her first Corporate Challenge title, outdueled Fiona Bayly from the American Museum of National History.  Bishop was clocked in 20:16 (5:47 pace), with Bayly’s official time 20:17, with her pace just one-tenth of a second slower. Marisa Cummings from Bank of America was right behind them in 20:18.

Marking 25 years of participation at the Corporate Challenge was the financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard, captained by Briana Greco.

Lazard has a robust set of wellness initiatives that support a culture of health and work-life balance,” Greco said. “The Corporate Challenge provides a special opportunity for a large number of our employees to get together in a team-building event outside of the workplace. It fosters camaraderie and community among our employees on a global scale, allowing colleagues around the world to represent Lazard in a fun, team-fitness event.”

A total of  238 Lazard employees were on hand, and that was a source of pride for Greco.

“Over the 25 years, registration has steadily increased,” Greco said. “Many of our employees return each year to participate, recruiting colleagues to join them. We also launch an internal marketing campaign each year to engage employees, including emails, posters, and online articles with photos from previous years. For the event, we secure a large tent and offer healthy food to further encourage a good turnout.”

The tents and parties were omnipresent throughout the southern half of Central Park, including several hundred fashion icons.

Mitchell Feinberg, who serves as team captain for Tapestry, a house of modern luxury lifestyle brands that includes Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, registered its largest group of participants to date, 460 in total.

“It’s exciting for us to build upon this cultural ritual every year,” said Feinberg. “We’ve participated for over 20 years and continue to attract everyone from race veterans to new participants. It’s an event that really generates a lot of chatter among our employees, and it’s a great opportunity for us to get together and celebrate our culture.”

Another sold-out crowd of 15,000 entrants will move into Central Park tomorrow night, May 31, for the second night of racing in the Corporate Challenge’s 42nd year in the Big Apple New York.