Forty years in the books. What will the next 40 bring?
The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® was first held on July 13, 1977 in Central Park. A total of 200 runners from 50 companies took part in that single event, and there was a healthy level of skepticism on whether a team running concept for full-time workers would work.
It did. The concept thrived, in fact. The evidence is a worldwide Series that now features 13 cities, seven countries, five continents and 250,000 worldwide runners. And it all started here.
As it has the past 13 years, the New York Corporate Challenge was held on back-to-back nights. Wednesday's first race also featured the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship with Sibanye Gold (Johannesburg), Corning (Rochester) and Strava (San Francisco) capturing the men's, women's and mixed team titles.
Sean Swift of J.P. Morgan and Veronica Jackson of Mendes & Mount put in championship performances themselves, winning the individual titles in the first of the two New York races.
On this night, the sold-out crowd of 15,000 New York entrants had the 3.2-mile Central Park course all to themselves, and two first-time winners proved to be the fittest of them all.
Chris Bendtsen of eMarketer, who won the men's individual title on the second night of New York in 2015, successfully defended his crown — eventually. Initially, Bendtsen was ruled to finish second. But the first-place runner, upon a verification check with the company he registered for, was ruled ineligible for not meeting the employment requirements. Bendtsen's now-official winning time of 15:22 proved to be the fastest over the two races this year. In the new top three, Matthew Forys of the New York Road Runners was second in 15:26 with David Stroupe of 21st Century Fox third in 16:44.
On the women's side, Meg Ryan made a name for herself by breaking the tape in her PwC singlet with a time of 18:04, the best women's time of the two-night event. Fiona Bayly was second in 18:32, representing the American Museum of National History, just a few blocks away on Central Park West. Katie Rodden of Stifel was third in 18:35.
The top runners were greeted at the leafy finish line by New York sporting royalty. Former New York Rangers hockey standouts Jeff Beukeboom and Glenn Anderson held the finish-line tape for the men, while football stars Tony Richardson (New York Jets) and David Tyree (New York Giants) did the tape honors for the women. Herb Williams, who played a portion of his excellent NBA career with the New York Knicks, sent off the 15,000 runners from the starting line ceremony.
Full individual results (with a search feature) are available at this link and full men's, women's and mixed teams results will be published pending eligibility verification of the top runners.
Befitting its ownership of the event and celebratory tone of the two nights, J.P. Morgan had the largest number of participants — 2,028 in total. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, as is its annual custom, made a donation on behalf of all Corporate Challenge participants to the Central Park Conservancy.
The 40th year of the Series resumes on Tuesday, June 7 in Syracuse, approximately 250 miles northwest on the New York State Thruway. It will be the 34th running of that event, with a 6:25 p.m. race start at Onondaga Lake Park.