SAN FRANCISCO, September 4, 2019 – Leana Lai, team captain for biotechnology firm Genentech, was pleasantly surprised when her colleagues snapped up all 300 available entries to the 2019 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in San Francisco less than one week after the opening of registration.
“It brings together hundreds of our employees from across various functions of our company,” Lai said. “It's an opportunity to encourage physical fitness and networking that many individuals look forward to year after year.”
But the 35th edition of the Bay Area’s most popular after-work sporting event had a special lure this year. The finish line for the 3.5-mile team run was near the gleaming new Chase Center – home of the pro basketball powerhouse Golden State Warriors – with the post-race party within the facility.
“Genentech has a lot of Warriors fans, so instead of planning our own Genentech-only post-race networking event, we opted to join in the Corporate Challenge-hosted event,” Lai said. “We did sell out faster than any other year, and I'm pretty sure it had to do with the new Chase Center.”
The official attendance was 10,500 runners and walkers from 389 companies and marked the seventh consecutive year the Corporate Challenge has reached capacity in the Bay Area. And their efforts were celebrated by three-time NBA champion Steph Curry. The Golden State Warriors’ superstar was there as a special guest and official starter.
This marked the 10th consecutive year the Corporate Challenge’s primary staging area has been just over the Third Street Bridge with the bulk of the 3.5-mile course on the Embarcadero. It was also the second time San Francisco hosted the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship, with 156 of the world’s fastest full-time workers taking off five minutes before the San Francisco race.
Manuel Valdez captained 300 colleagues from VMware, a software firm that has participated in the Corporate Challenge practically since its founding in 1998. It has covered the Corporate Challenge course at Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Field, and now from an area that evolved into “Thrive City.”
“We at VMware believe in building a community in all sorts of ways – wellness and fitness being one of our favorites,” Valdez said. “By continuing to participate in memorable Bay Area events such as the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, we give the VMware team an opportunity to build stronger bonds amongst ourselves and with our neighbors as well.”
Valdez noted that Team VMware did have extra motivation in entering this year to see the new home of the Warriors, but also pointed out that memories from previous years was a major factor.
“There are too many good memories to list,” Valdez said. “From the excitement on the bus rides into San Francisco, to the unforgettable sunsets that watch over us as our team runs our hearts out – every year brings so many fond memories. Whenever you combine good people with fun activities, a great time is sure to follow.”
In addition to the 300 entrants from both Genentech and VMware, Salesforce registered an impressive 701 of its employees. BioMarin Pharmaceutical (275), Visa (250), First Republic Bank (178), LinkedIn (140), Accenture (126), Okta (125), and Cooley (125) were other big supporters.
Event owner and operator JPMorgan Chase came out in huge numbers, registering 993 of its employees. That is 45% larger than 2018.
The Corporate Challenge is open for businesses of all sizes and has attracted a loyal following of team captains.
David Win, Head of Operations for e-commerce outfit Touch of Modern Inc., is one such leader. This marked his fourth time being a Corporate Challenge team captain for four different companies.
“I use the Corporate Challenge as a team morale event at every company I have served at,” Win said.
Win organized a team of nine colleagues for the race, with plans to all compete over the 3.5-mile course at the same pace and cross the finish line together as a team. He’s hopeful to double or triple Touch of Modern’s team size for 2020.
A main draw for him personally this year was the Chase Center.
“This year is especially special for me because the race ends at the Chase Center, where Golden State Warriors play,” Win said. “Warriors have a special place in my heart because I was part of their Be An Ally video campaign that played at half-time. Warriors reached out to fans at the SF LGBT Center where I volunteer, and it was a huge honor to be selected.”
Top honors in the women’s individual race went to first-time winner Stephanie Rouse of UC San Francisco. Rouse covered the course in a speedy 5:25 pace (18:56 official time) to defeat runner-up Maria Malone of Plenty (19:06) and third-place Carmen Mejia from Snap (19:48).
There was a first-time winner in the men’s race as well, as Weston Strum of Fivetran clocked a remarkable 16:07 through the finish line tape. He needed every bit of his excellence as the runner-up was three-time San Francisco Corporate Challenge champion (2014-16) Chris Chavez of UBS. Gregory Billington, running for Visa, earned bronze in 16:24.
For the third consecutive year, the Warriors Community Foundation was the beneficiary partner of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in San Francisco. The Foundation extends the local impact of the Golden State Warriors, who have won four NBA titles in the Bay Area and have a longstanding tradition of community involvement.
The 19th running in Sydney, Australia is next up for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series. The penultimate event in the Series’ 43rd year will be held on Wednesday, October 30 at Centennial Park.