Buffalo’s 40th Corporate Challenge feels like a new beginning

Buffalo looks wonderful at 40.

The second-oldest race location in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series (New York City turned 44 earlier this year), Buffalo was filled with a sense of renewal on this night. A crowd of 5,892 entrants from 206 companies came to Delaware Park to compete in the first Corporate Challenge in the historic and endearing Western New York city since June 13, 2019.

This is a market forged by resilience and fueled with reinvention, so it was not surprising to see such a great turnout post-COVID. And one of the largest participating businesses is one of Buffalo’s newer success stories.

ACV Auctions is a company that develops an online automotive marketplace for purchasing wholesale vehicles. Founded in 2014, it has enjoyed terrific growth and it brought 149 employees to the Corporate Challenge to celebrate not only their wins in the marketplace, but also their bond.

“We are celebrating being together as a group again!” enthused ACV team captain Tara Caples. “It has been several years since we were able to have this many ACV teammates together for a social event. In those years between, we have achieved several accomplishments and company milestones that deserve to be celebrated together.”

Buffalo invested the post-race hospitality concept at the Corporate Challenge, so not surprisingly ACV got into the spirit. It hired Kevin’s Catering to create a nice spread for its employees’ party within Delaware Park and the celebration was worth the three-year wait.

“What better way to focus on Health & Physical fitness than joining the 2022 JP Morgan Corporate Challenge?” said Caples. “We love to see our teammates back to moving together, connecting, competing, and having fun safely.”

With its 149 employees entered, ACV was the fifth-largest company in terms of entrants at the 2022 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. The others in the top 10 were: Ingram Micro (290 entrants); Buffalo City School District (218); Moog (204); Erie County Medical Center (154); Wegmans (127); HSBC (125); Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (107); Independent Health Association (106); M&T Bank (106).

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has deep experience covering the Corporate Challenge’s 3.5-mile distance. It has been coming to Delaware Park as a team for nearly 20 years, and this year the event took on an even more poignant tone.

“It’s always a bonding event and we’ve truly missed it the past two years,” said Roswell Park team captain Amy Dickinson. “The pandemic took an especially heavy toll on healthcare workers, and this is one way we can celebrate our hardworking staff and enjoy a fun event, food, and the company of our colleagues.”

Dickinson noted that recruiting Roswell employees to participate in the Corporate Challenge is generally not difficult as her colleagues are eager for the race, but this year they were particularly excited to participate in new dry-fit race shirts and to just get back into the community with gratefulness.

“These past few years have been hard, but together we are stronger,” Dickinson continued. “We have hope that our community will continue to heal, and we’ll be able to come together to participate in more events in the future.”

Suitable for an event that seemed to be beginning a second life, there were two newcomers to the winners’ circle in the men’s and women’s divisions.

Benjamin Cardamone III, representing GP:50, a leading manufacturer of pressure and temperature transducers, won the men’s division in 17:23 (4:58 pace). Cassie Goodman, representing Excelsior Orthopaedics, with seven locations and over 100 Orthopaedic specialists throughout Western New York, topped the women’s field with a time of 21:04 (6:01 pace).

Erie County Medical Center is another healthcare organization that has made the Corporate Challenge a destination for approaching two decades. And team captain Kathy Gregoire knew this year would be special.

“The past several years have been a challenge for healthcare workers,” Gregoire said. “And this year we are proud here to be celebrating our frontline workers – the healthcare heroes – who were our lifeline over the past two-plus years.

“The Corporate Challenge is always a good bonding event,” Gregoire continued. “This gives our employees the chance to come together outside the workplace.”

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Buffalo also strived to be more inclusive than ever. For the first time here, employees from all companies could register as non-binary. Those specific entrants are listed in the Series Leaderboard and are eligible to score in their company’s mixed team results.

The results on the Leaderboard tell the story of the race, but the benefits extend in the community. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation donated in celebration of the Corporate Challenge to Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center. Dnipro was founded by Ukrainian emigrants that had been displaced from their homeland by World War II. Today, Dnipro is home to multiple local and international Ukrainian organizations including the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, Women’s Choir “Mriya,” and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

In the last full year of racing, 2019, the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series featured 251,299 entrants from 7,581 companies. This year, the Series will include three expansion markets – Buenos Aires, Dallas-Fort Worth and Philadelphia. Now in its 46th year and back on its feet after COVID, the Corporate Challenge is ready to spread its appeal wider than ever before.

Buffalo was the sixth stop in the 2022 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. Number seven is on Thursday, June 23 in Boston.