San Francisco


San Francisco

San Francisco races and parties like champions in Chase Center

It almost felt like a victory parade. The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is back in San Francisco.

The 36th running of the 3.5-mile corporate team run/walk was held in weather conditions best described as pristine with the start/finish line just outside Chase Center, home of the World Champion Golden State Warriors. It’s a place where greatness thrives and, on this night, provided an idyllic sense of return to normalcy.

It was the first Corporate Challenge held in the Bay Area since September 4, 2019. The event, which debuted in 1983 at Justin Herman Plaza, sensibly went dark in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. Many companies still participated virtually those two years, but there’s nothing like the 3.5-mile race course along the Embarcadero.

“Cooley has participated in the Corporate Challenge for over 15 years, including the past two years as a virtual event,” said Danielle Naftulin, Cooley’s team captain. “We are thrilled to rejoin the thousands in person this year. The Corporate Challenge is a way to come together as a team, help raise awareness for wonderful causes, and embrace fitness at all levels, all of which are themes core to Cooley’s culture. These attributes keep us coming back year after year.”

“After three years, it was an incredible feeling to run alongside my team members and other participants at the Corporate Challenge this year,” said Peter Bowden, team captain for Accenture. “I have a very personal connection to the Corporate Challenge – my father recruited me to participate over 30 years ago at the event in Albany, New York. Since then, I have organized teams to run at the various Accenture locations that I have lived and worked, including New York, Boston and now in San Francisco. While I organized teams the past couple of years to run remotely, it was extra special to have the run come back into its true form –

bringing people together to promote fitness, strengthen personal connections and create a sense of community.”

Cooley and Accenture were two of the 10 largest companies in an official gathering of 4,066 racers, joggers and all other entrants from 151 companies. The biggest participants came from a wide range of industry, including Visa (244 entrants), Genentech (138), VMware (121), Cooley (115), Accenture (83), QuantumScape (77), Exelixis (75), First Republic Bank (70), Dolby (64), and Jones Long LaSalle (60).

“At Exelixis, one of our driving values is that we Excel Together, and I’m proud that our team brought one of the largest groups to participate in person now that the race is back for the first time in three years,” said Mike Cancilla, Senior Vice President, Program Leadership at Exelixis. “This is my 10th year participating in the Corporate Challenge, and I look forward to it every year as a way to bond with colleagues and take part in a friendly, health-focused competition with other members of our community.”

“This is the fifth time I've participated in the Corporate Challenge, and I've always had a positive experience,” said Thomas Arnold, QuantumScape’s team captain. “Our company has grown a lot since the last race in 2019, and all of the training and prep this year was a great opportunity to bring together people from different teams."

The individual winners were Christopher Olley, representing Google, in the men’s division with a finishing time of 16:29 and Lydia Davenport of Morrison Foerster in the women’s division with a time of 19:45.

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge San Francisco 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.

And while it was healing to see one of the Bay Area’s iconic after-work events return, the participants found additional value in realizing their efforts will make a significant impact for children in nearby Oakland.

JPMorgan Chase donated in celebration of the Corporate Challenge to Eat. Learn. Play., launched in 2019 by Stephen and Ayesha Curry to support youth in their adopted hometown of Oakland. Anchored around the message that children are our future, Eat. Learn. Play. is committed to developing partnerships and initiatives that will positively impact youth by focusing on three vital pillars of a healthy childhood: nutrition, education, and physical activity.

Eat. Learn. Play. is committed to unlocking the amazing potential of every child by fighting to end childhood hunger, ensuring students have access to a quality education, and providing safe places for all children to play and be active. Their investments meet kids where they are most often - in school, at home, and in their neighborhood.

While the Corporate Challenge was abridged to a virtual race, JPMorgan Chase donated to Eat. Learn. Play. and the partnership led to providing over 5,000 nutritious meals and books to kids throughout Oakland.

“We are grateful for JPMorgan Chase, an incredible partner in our efforts to help kids reach their full potential since our launch in 2019,” said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Eat. Learn. Play. “We are excited to lace up our shoes again and be a part of the Corporate Challenge, which offers an unrivaled platform for the community to come together and support kids in Oakland and across the Bay Area.”

Corporate Challenge participants are invited to make a personal contribution to support Eat. Learn. Play. and consider becoming a monthly sustainer. They may also go through their employee corporate volunteer program to sign up to volunteer at future Eat. Learn. Play. community events.

The beneficiary component brought added enthusiasm to companies during the registration period.

“We were excited to come together as a company once again to build camaraderie and enjoy a night out filled with fun and fitness,” said Leana Lai, Genentech’s team captain. “This event has always been a highlight for many employees, and we were looking forward to participating and supporting the local beneficiary, the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation.”

Appropriately, Corporate Challenge finishers celebrated their achievement immediately after inside Chase Center, where Stephen Curry led the Warriors to their fourth title in eight years and was named the 2022 NBA finals MVP. And Visa celebrated like champions following the race.

“For me personally, this is a great event in my hometown location,” said Richard Morrissey, Visa’s team captain. “We get to socialize with equally like-minded employees, from executive suite to former Olympians, and to see and compete with friends who run for other companies.

And it’s also a chance to support a great cause like Eat. Learn. Play. and hangout in a real cool arena, Chase Center.”

The next night of competition for the 2022 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge will be Thursday, October 6 in Philadelphia. It will mark the first time the Series has visited the City of Brotherly Love since 1997.