The New York workforce charges off the starting line at the second night of racing at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in a full-bloom Central Park.

It’s not surprising a company like New York Life, one of the largest life insurers in the world, would find the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge to be an event it keeps top of mind for its employees.  In fact, it found a liking to the 3.5-mile race way back in 1977 – the very first Corporate Challenge in Central Park.

“We were there at the very beginning,” said Stephen Leo, Team Captain for New York Life.

“Our company places great importance in engaging all our employees in events like the Corporate Challenge,” Leo said. “Recruitment is driven primarily through collaboration between our Home Office fitness center and our Corporate Communications department, because we want our employees to know that we value their health.”

New York Life had 260 of the 15,000 participants on the second night of racing at the 42nd J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park and was one of the 336 registered companies.  In total, the 2018 Corporate Challenge had 30,000 runners and walkers from 665 companies.

Leo says New York Life promotes its Corporate Challenge participation as one of its company traditions and communicated daily to employees on its intranet during the registration period in the winter.

“We also posted a ‘family album’ of team photos taken over the last 40+ years, tagging as many of the employees in the photos as possible,” Leo said. “We shared ‘Six Great Reasons Why You Should Register for the Corporate Challenge’ with our employees in the tri-state area, including messaging like ‘More than 200 of your colleagues are already registered’ and ‘Summer is right around the corner and it's time to make good on your New Year's Resolutions!’”

The Corporate Challenge prides itself on its ability to bring together employees from businesses that have multiple locations, creating a sense of camaraderie among staff that do not necessarily interact regularly.

Maria Biondi, RDN, CDN, and Team Captain at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, admitted that company unity was her motivation in registering 387 colleagues this year.

“We wanted to create a team this year that would incorporate all of our NewYork-Presbyterian locations and give our employees the opportunity to get involved,” Biondi said. “NYPBeHealthy, our employee Health and Wellbeing program, was excited to be a part of the event this year. We have employees registered from each of our 10 hospital campuses and from all levels of the organization. It is wonderful to see our diverse organization coming together to run and to support our NewYork-Presbyterian runners. NYPBeHealthy hopes to foster a sense of health, camaraderie, and engagement with our employees at this fun event!”  

Biondi serves as the NYPBeHealthy Health & Wellbeing Coordinator and went all-out in the planning for this year’s Corporate Challenge.

“This year, we offered various resources for our employees to get involved in the Corporate Challenge,” Biondi said. “We created T-shirts, a training schedule with nutrition tips, and hosted a pre-race fun run the week prior! We had a wonderful response from employees who were eager to register and get involved.”

The competition at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is keen, also.  And it’s very much to the liking of Alexandra Cadicamo.

Cadicamo, a former standout runner at Yale, earned her third Corporate Challenge women’s individual title on this night, crossing the finish line in 19:11 (5:29 pace), ahead of runner-up Veronica Jackson of Mendes & Mount (19:45) and third-place finisher Ashley Montgomery of Barclays (20:03).

Cadicamo was running with her colleagues from The Boston Consulting Group.  She had previously won here in 2014 and 2015 while working at Goldman Sachs.  She also visited third in 2012.

John Bleday of PwC, an Ivy League standout also, from Dartmouth, was a repeat men’s champion.  He broke the tape in 17:15 (4:56 pace) with a healthy lead over Chris Bendtsen of eMarketer (17:50).  Jordan O’Donoghue from J.P. Morgan was third in 18:19.

The Bleday-Bendtsen rivalry is one to watch in the future.  Bendtsen won on the second night of racing in Central Park in both 2015 and 2016 and finished second to Bleday the last two years.  Friendly showdowns among top New York club runners are common at the Corporate Challenge.

Another winner on this night was the Central Park Conservancy. J.P. Morgan will donate to support the Conservancy’s mission to restore, manage and enhance Central Park.  The Corporate Challenge’s partnership with the Conservancy dates to the not-for-profit’s founding in 1980.

That connection was a driving reason behind the participation of Mizuho Bank.

“We have a very social culture at Mizuho and a long tradition of supporting the local community,” said Mark Haynie, Team Captain for Mizuho. ““We want to encourage and accommodate as many runners as we can and help support activities that foster collegial relationships, boost morale, and support wellness.   This race really connects with our colleagues.

“Mizuho has participated in the race for many years and interest has remained strong, with our roster filled within hours of open registration,” Haynie continued, noting that Mizuho registered 350 employees. “We believe our investment in the overall employee experience with internal communications, t-shirts, and race day amenities drives great interest in the race.  We normally have a sizable number of returning participants each year that also encourage new coworkers to participate.”

A doubleheader week is next on tap for the 42nd year of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series.  There’s a stop in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, June 6 followed by a trip across the Atlantic to Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday, June 7.