2023 Series opener in Johannesburg makes a sold-out statement

JOHANNESBURG, March 30, 2023 – In North America, it was “Opening Day” as Major League Baseball returned for the 2023 season before sold-out crowds coast-to-coast.

Approximately 9,000 miles away, in beautiful Johannesburg, South Africa, the 2023 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series also had its opening day and welcomed a full capacity crowd. It truly felt like a new beginning for an event with global appeal and a rich history.

“This year’s race feels like a return to normality post COVID-19,” said Kevin Latter, Senior County Officer, Sub-Saharan Africa, for Corporate Challenge event owner and operator J.P. Morgan. “For us it tells us as an event, it is more relevant than ever. People want to spend time with each other, and the Corporate Challenge does that for us and for all the attendants.”

The 18th edition of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge at the historic Wanderers Club in Johannesburg drew an official capacity crowd of 13,976 entrants from 346 companies. That represented a massive improvement over the 5,817 participants that joined the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) team road race in 2022, following two sensible years of COVID postponements.

“The world of work has changed,” said Michelle Marais, who served as team captain for Sanlam Specialized Finance. “Post-COVID, we’re gradually returning to the office with renewed appreciation for interface engagements and our role in shaping an organization that showcases the extent to which we are an employer of choice. Events such as the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge are an apt platform for us to bring our employer brand to life.”

The capacity crowd was fueled by nine companies who registered 300 or more employees: Investec (507 entrants), Anglo American (417), Absa (405), Momentum (350), Standard Bank (350), KPMG (339), Ernst & Young (325), Rand Merchant Bank (300), and Rand Water (300). But the Corporate Challenge is all-inclusive, and among these behemoths on the race course were dozens of small, entrepreneurial companies that registered the four-employee minimum.

Travis Johnston, who has been team captain for financial services provider Stanlib for many Corporate Challenges in Johannesburg, couldn’t wait to get back with his colleagues to the Wanderers Club.

“Anytime we can bring in wellness, conversations and face-to-face experiences we jump onto those opportunities,” said Johnston. “It’s always been important both now and in the past. But now, with the hybrid systems of work we have, we don’t always have everyone in the same place at the same time. For this event we embrace the challenge of fitness and build relationships with memories.”

Memories were indeed made as the sold-out crowd was blessed with comfortable temperatures to compete, clear skies and an ideal party atmosphere for the post-race concert performed by four-time SA Music Awards winner Shekhinah and DJ Luis. It just added to the credibility of an event that first appeared in Johannesburg in 2004 and now is enjoying a renaissance.

All 346 registered businesses left the Wanderers Club gratified that the efforts of the employees contributed to a good cause. For the 10th consecutive year, J.P. Morgan donated in celebration of the Corporate Challenge to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. South Africa CEO Marlene Coestzee-George and Sport for Good Foundation Chairman Morne du Plessis represented Laureus at the event along with a host of ambassadors and other celebrities.

du Plessis, one of the most beloved former captains of the legendary rugby union squad Springboks, had to be impressed by the efforts at the front of the pack by Edward Mothibi and Mia Morrison.

Mothibi, representing Implats, a producer of platinum group metals, successfully defended his Corporate Challenge 2022 men’s individual title by being the first finisher overall to break the finish line tape on the cricket oval at the Wanderers Club. His winning time was 17:22 (4:58 mile pace).

“The crowd was amazing,” Mothibi said. “To hear everyone out here recognizing us and cheering us on was amazing. J.P. Morgan is doing such a great thing. They are sending a message to companies that everyone in the company has the chance to train and get healthy. It’s not about coming first like myself, but about participating and finishing the race.”

Morrison earned the women’s title, pridefully crossing the finish line in representation of her employer Investec. She clocked in at 21:59 (6:17 pace) and it was a return to the winners’ circle, as Morrison also won this event in 2019. Much has changed in her life since.

“I had a baby at the end of 2021, so I didn’t know what I could do today,” Morrison said. “I won in 2019, and that year I was training seriously for Comrades (Marathon). But this year I haven’t really been training for anything specific, and I’ve just been running for the joy of it. So, it really was a wonderful surprise to see what I could achieve.”

Morrison then sent a message to every Corporate Challenge participant.

“I would like to encourage everyone to find joy in exercising,” she said pridefully. “Find what works for you. You're going to be a better performer in the workplace if you also invest in yourself and that includes exercise.”

Mothibi and Morrison now sit atop the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series Leaderboard with 14 events remaining in the 47th year of this worldwide event. The next group of runners to challenge their times will be in Singapore on Thursday, April 27.