This part of the world is soccer mad, what with Germany being the reigning men's World Cup champions and the European Championships in progress.
So it's appropriate to bring forth a comparison to the Beautiful Game. There were as many people at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® on this night in Frankfurt as those that normally attend the matches of world-famous Bayern Munich FC.
A total of 68,119 entrants from 2,633 corporations traveled to Frankfurt/Main for the occasion of the 24th J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. This will prove to be one of the largest road races of any length in the world in 2016. It remains truly breathtaking to see the entire German financial capital essentially shut down on a mid-week night to pay respect to the importance of workplace fitness and camaraderie.
"It is absolutely fantastic that the Corporate Challenge continues to maintain its unbroken level of popularity and close to 70,000 female and male runners compete together with a sense of team spirit and good health for a good cause," says Dorothee Blessing, the Frankfurt-based host of the evening from J.P. Morgan, the owner and operator of the worldwide J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series.
Thomas de Maizière, German Minister of the Interior, was the patron for the event, and the starting signal was sounded by German figure skating legend Katarina Witt.
Witt was there on behalf of the German Sport Aid Foundation which, for the 10th consecutive year, was the beneficiary partner. A donation of €245,500 ($276,000) was made on behalf of the event to use for meaningful and sustainable support of sports programs for young individuals with disabilities across Germany.
"The donation from the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is primarily used to introduce young individuals with a disability to sports in order to subsequently enrich their personal lifestyle," explained Dr. Michael Ilgner, chairman of the board of the German Sport Aid Foundation. "Over the period of our 10-year partnership with the event, more than 30 projects for over 7,000 young individuals with disabilities have been supported."
Lufthansa was the largest supporter of the Corporate Challenge, bringing 1,600 of its employees to the starting line. Deutsche Bank (1,327 entrants) and Sanofi-Aventis (1,301) also broke the four-figure mark.
In all, two-thirds of the massive gathering originated from the Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region, with the remaining one-third travelling in from smaller towns and larger cities between Hamburg and Munich, Dusseldorf and Leipzig.
With that type of geographic diversity within Deutschland, we can correctly label Aaron Bienenfeld and Julia Galuschka the fastest full-time workers in the country.
Bienenfeld, running for Frankfurter Laufshop, captured the men's individual crown with a sizzling time of 16:44 over the 3.5-mile (5.6km) course, distancing second-place finisher and colleague Florian Neuschwander (17:05). Simon Huckestein of Commerzbank was third in 17:26.
Galuschka, who finished third in 2015, shaved 25 seconds off her finish time, and needed every bit of that economy. Competing for August Bebel Schule Wetzlar, Galuschka broke the tape in 19:04, one tick ahead of Volkswagen's Anna Reuter (19:05). Jana Soethout of Nike was a few more strides back in 19:16.
The 40th year of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series is racing along in world-class speed. The ninth event is on tap for next Thursday, June 23, in Buffalo's Delaware Park. The Western New York race will feature a near-record crowd for the market, 12,488 entrants.