Some of the 576 members of the Hospital for Special Surgery team share the spirit of what has become the largest event in which the hospital participates as an organization. Team captain Susan Cardamone says one reason the event has become so popular at the hospital is the conviviality that surrounds the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park.
Everything changes on course;
fun and camaraderie remains in event
Corey Wall of JPMorgan Chase wins on the redesigned Central Park course as he breaks the finish lane tape with the iconic San Remo Building looming in the background.
NEW YORK, June 3, 2015 — Thirty-nine years strong, and the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® is not afraid to try new things.
This year in Central Park it was a brand new race course, changed from start to finish and in length. It was 3.2 miles, starting on the east near the 79th Street transverse and finished on West Drive with the iconic, gorgeous San Remo Building looming in the background as a reminder that New York is a one-in-a-million place.
And so is the Corporate Challenge. More like one of a kind, as it is the largest team running event in the world with New York being its original location. Grown from 200 runners on the first night in 1977, this night brought 15,000 runners and walkers from 293 companies. It would have been significantly more if not for capacity restrictions.
And the entrants appeared to love the new course, particularly the downhill finish. Clear, dry weather with temperatures in the high 50's didn't hurt. It was New York's corporate celebration of the end of a long winter with the promise of a brilliant summer.
The event brings out a wide variety of New York industry groups and global brands. For the chic, luxury brand Coach, company captain Mitchell Feinberg believes that the Corporate Challenge not only brings employees together in the name of fitness -- but for fun, too.
"We do it for the team camaraderie," said Feinberg, speaking among the hospitality tents near the famed Sheep Meadow within Frederic Law Olmsted's amazing park. "I've been captain for 18 years and watched the team grow from eight to 10 people to 275. We're a close knit set so the run has definitely become part of the company culture. Coach covers the entry fees as well to further encourage participation, but it really doesn't take much for this group."
Jaclyn Emerick, Fitness Director for Shape Magazine, was one of 47 runners participating for Meredith Corp, the parent of Shape. She feels the appeal of the Corporate Challenge is due to its approachability.
"It is an excellent event because it makes what could sound like an intimidating race really fun thanks to things like group t-shirts and post-race parties," Emerick said. "The run offers a unique opportunity to forge camaraderie with your coworkers you can't develop in the office. Knowing your employer encourages you to participate also means you know they're investing in your health and wellness in general, which can help you kick-start a bigger fitness goal."
As for the competition on the 3.2-mile race course, Corey Wall had the ultimate home course advantage. He works for event owner and operator JPMorgan Chase and trains regularly in this setting as a member of the Central Park Track Club. He found the new east-to-west course very much to his liking and ran a stellar 15:57, besting defending champion David Knowles of Seward & Kissel by four seconds. Blake Arnold of Google was a fairly distance third in 16:54.
Christina Argueta of Cleary Gottlieb had a near miss here in 2013, finishing second to Bloomberg's Andrea Bradshaw. But there was no beating Argueta this time, her 17:59 making her the clear women's champ. Johanna Nielsen of Citrin Cooperman & Company was a solid runner-up in 18:20 while Morningstar's Cara Costich took the bronze with her 18:28.
Christina Argueta of Cleary Gottlieb wins the women's title at the 2015 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge just 17 minutes, 59 seconds after a capacity crowd broke from the starting line on an ideal night for running.
JPMorgan Chase had the fastest runner, and nearly the most total entrants on this night, with a whopping 1,011. American Express had the biggest contingent, with 1,200, following by impressive showings from Morgan Stanley (909), Hospital for Special Surgery (576) and Bloomberg (467).
The Corporate Challenge is the largest event that Hospital for Special Surgery participates in as an organization, and according to team captain, Susan Cardamone, the conviviality of the evening is the best part.
"This is our fifth consecutive year participating with our entrants up from about 100 when they first started," Cardamone said. "As a healthcare organization, health and fitness is extremely important."
The running bug has certainly hit HSS. "I used to run here and there," said Ramon Severino from the hospital's patient accounting department. "But it was really through my participation in the Corporate Challenge that I realized how much I enjoyed running in competitive races."
All the effort of the company captains helped benefit -- as it has for more than a quarter century -- the Central Park Conservancy, the official manager of Central Park. In honor of the Corporate Challenge participants, J.P. Morgan will make a donation to the Central Park Conservancy that will support the Conservancy's mission to restore, manage and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public.
The forecast for Thursday is equally beautiful, so let's do it again. The second night of racing in Central Park takes off at 7 p.m. with another capacity crowd of 15,000 expected.