Philadelphia renews its love for J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge

There are iconic spots that celebrate running and fitness in the United States, and the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is right near the top of the list.

“The scenes from 'Rocky' are proof enough of Philadelphia's passion for running,” said Fionna Ross, team captain for abrdn, a global investment company and asset manager.

Those steps that Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa climbed in one of the signature moments from the 1976 Academy Award-winning film have been run with unbridled enthusiasm by millions the last 46 years. On this night, they served as the backdrop for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge as it returned to Philadelphia for the first time 1997.

This was the first Corporate Challenge in this era, but the 10th running overall in the City of Brotherly Love. It was held for five consecutive years between 1987-1991 as the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenge, three more between 1992-94 as the Chemical Bank Corporate Challenge, and once more in 1997 as the Chase Corporate Challenge. That last race, in 1997, drew 1,204 entrants from 102 companies, and the largest Philadelphia event in the nine years listed above was 1,359 entrants in 1992.

The official attendance for this one was 1,018 entrants from 50 companies, and they were rewarded with a day worthy for the occasion, with temperatures touching a summer-like 80 degrees during the day before cooling just enough to create ideal race course conditions.

This return was delayed an additional two years by the COVID pandemic. The Corporate Challenge was poised to run in Philadelphia in October, 2020, but sensibly took that year and 2021 off. Local businesses warmed up for the Corporate Challenge during the break with a Virtual event.

Companies like abrdn took off from the starting line under ideal conditions to race, jog or walk, and covered the 3.5-mile course before celebrating after sundown at the Eakins Oval.

“We have been very excited about the Corporate Challenge finally arriving, with such an iconic course,” said Fionna Ross who, in addition to captaining abrdn’s debut team, heads up the asset manager's Sustainability Institute for the Americas. "We're proud to have such a great group of colleagues joining in, with several having participated in numerous prior runs in other cities and are glad to be out here enjoying all the positive energy this event brings.”

One of the other largest participating companies was WSP, a global multidisciplinary planning and engineering firm with 12,000 employees in over 200 offices in the U.S. The Corporate Challenge was the perfect way to further integrate the firm into the city’s business fabric.

“Since the founding of our Philadelphia office, we have worked with stakeholders across the city to implement infrastructure solutions that benefit our entire community,” said Ellen McAlexander, team captain and Marketing Coordinator for WSP. “Our team fosters collaboration in everything we do, and we value opportunities to connect outside of the office and engage with our colleagues and neighbors. The J.P. Morgan Challenge presents a unique opportunity to share time together in the city we call home and connect with other professionals who share similar values.”

The first winners over the 3.5-mile course in this new Corporate Challenge era were Daniel Krystek, representing PwC, in the men’s division with a finishing time of 19:00 (5:26 pace) and Zoe Matherne of Richards, Layton & Finger in the women’s division with a time of 20:42 (5:55 pace).

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Philadelphia also had a third category of individual finishers for the first time. Employees from all companies could register as non-binary and those specific entrants are listed in the Series Leaderboard and are eligible to score in their company’s mixed team results.

JPMorgan Chase donated in celebration of the Corporate Challenge to Fairmount Park Conservancy, a non-profit that works with the City of Philadelphia to bring the city’s parks to life.

Since beginning a partnership with J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Virtual in 2020, the Conservancy has been able to host 190 nature- and health-focused public events attended by 10,800 people, plant and distribute nearly 12,000 trees, coordinate 4,614 volunteers through our Love Your Park Service Days, produce more than 80,000 pounds of produce distributed to local communities in need, complete construction of the 4.5 mile Trolley Trail in West Fairmount Park, and advance major capital projects in the Centennial District of West Fairmount Park and at FDR Park.

The Fairmount Park partnership was one of the key reasons behind participation for Burns & McDonnell.

“Burns & McDonnell is a 100% employee-owned engineering, construction, and architecture firm, is participating in the Philadelphia J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge for the first time,” said Adam Joyce, Burns & McDonnell team captain. “Our teammates in our Chicago office have participated in the Corporate Challenge there since 2016, and we are excited to be a part of it this year. Events like this allow us to create amazing by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and by giving back to the Fairmont Park Conservancy, a vital community organization that improves the lives of Philadelphians and Burns & McDonnell employee-owners.”

“BNY Mellon Wealth Management is happy to be part of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Philadelphia and support the Fairmount Park Conservancy,” echoed Scott Lillis, Market President, Mid-Atlantic Region, BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

Next up, there’s another reunion on tap for the 2022 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series. On Wednesday, October 19, Dallas-Fort Worth rejoins the Series for the first time since 2004, with a 7 p.m. race start at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District.