Members of Hearst Corporation gather for a group photo in a Central Park setting that literally goes to the heart of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in New York.
Central Park grand host as capacity crowd
gathers for first of two nights of racing
Catherine Keating, CEO of J.P. Morgan Private Bank, and Doug Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy (the race beneficiary), signal the start of the race.
NEW YORK, June 13, 2012 — The day had started drizzly and gray, and less than a handful of team members had gathered at the Hearst Corporation tent in Central Park. Decidedly low key, the mood and the scene shifted dramatically an hour before the start of the 2012 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in New York.
The sun popped out, and runners and walkers from Hearst Corporation seemed to engulf their tent en masse. With similar scenes repeated in company tents and gathering spots across its lush, green expanse, Central Park took on a palpable energy as it prepared to host a Corporate Challenge for the 36th straight year. The buzz was definitely a New York state of mind.
"It's just so fantastic that so many people have come together for a big event that happens to be a fitness event," said Angela Salveo, director of The Club, which works with Hearst Corporation employees on their fitness and helped organize this year's team of 95 entrants."There are thousands of individuals focused on their own goals, but they come together in Central Park to be part of teams and a big event. I think it's great."
The feeling was shared by many in a sun-splashed crowd of 15,000 who walked and ran a hilly 3.5-mile course in the first of back-to-back nights of racing in iconic Central Park. Both races reached their capacity quickly, with demand for spots leading to a lengthy waiting list.
Denise Mazzeo of Seward & Kissel wins the women's title.
It all added to an already rich New York City heritage for the Corporate Challenge, which began in Central Park 36 years ago when 200 runners from 50 companies gathered for the inaugural event. From those humble beginnings, the Corporate Challenge has gone on to become the most-widely attended event in New York road racing history with approximately 1.4 million total participants.
"We filled up our 120 slots in an hour and a half," said Mary Goza, company captain for Hess Corporation. "There's a lot of energy and excitement about doing this event. People start asking about it months in advance. I think people just like the activity of running or walking. It's a lot of fun."
Helping fuel the sold-out crowd on Wednesday night were seven companies that had teams of more than 300 entrants: American Express (1,300), Bloomberg (769), Credit Suisse (471), News Corp. (453), Deutsche Bank (450), Hospital for Special Surgery (337), and Morgan Stanley (301).
Other companies, such as Lazard Freres & Co., with 221 entrants weren't far behind.
"This event helps to promote a healthy lifestyle within the firm," said Lorena Riso, acting company captain, explaining the large turnout.
The capacity crowds did more than improve their fitness and boost camaraderie at their companies, however. They also benefitted the world famous park in which they walked and ran.
The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, in honor of the Corporate Challenge, will make a donation to the Central Park Conservancy, the organization that restores, manages and enhances the park in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The donation will specifically protect 21,500 trees and care for more than 150 acres of water bodies, 250 acres of lawns, 130 acres of woodlands, 9,000 benches and over 50 historic structures, statues, and monuments.
"It is a great bonus to be able to give back in such a big way to something that enriches New York, like Central Park obviously does," said Hess' Goza. "We're the only oil company based in New York and to give back to Central Park is a great thing for us to do. Plus, we also have operations in Woodbridge, N.J., and the Corporate Challenge is one of the few opportunities we have to bring our employees together for one out-of-the office event."
The 36th annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park also gave New York's elite runners an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Gian-Paul Caccia of Wolverine Execution Services sped to his third consecutive men's title in New York. Caccia won in 17:13, well ahead of second place Ro Crispin of the New York Road Runners and third-place Andrew Volik of Super Runners Shop.
Members of Lazard Freres & Co. gather for a pre-race photo.
In the women's individual race, Denise Mazzeo of Seward & Kissel fashioned a comfortable lead, then used it to finish first in 19:57. Second went to Andrea Bradshaw of Bloomberg in 20:32, with 2011 champion Emily Mareb of Bloomingdale's third in 20:49.
Caccia, a 2008 graduate of Loyola (Maryland), said he could feel the energy in Central Park as he waited at the starting line, which may have helped lead to his race-winning move.
"I broke away before the first mile and was pretty much in front of everyone by the first mile, which I ran in 4:58," he said. "It's a special event. Definitely, you can feel the energy and excitement."
In addition to showcasing runners at the front of the pack, the Corporate Challenge also allowed companies to spotlight their creative sides.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and MphasiS were voted to have created the most creative T-shirts. Each company will receive a $1,000 donation from JPMorgan Chase to designate to a charity of their choice.
New York is the sixth event in the 2012 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series. Racing continues on Thursday night with two notable events in the Series. The second Central Park race will take place in New York. And, the world's largest road race, the Corporate Challenge in Frankurt, Germany, also will be held on Thursday. Almost 90,000 participants are expected for the two, same-day races.