20th running in Sydney also serves as a very-welcome reunion

Three years wasn’t long enough to make Sydney forget about all the healthy times and good experiences it has had at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.

Instead, it felt like a wonderful reunion on this night as the 20th running of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge took off from its familiar and eye-catching start line inside beautiful Centennial Park.

This was the first Corporate Challenge held in New South Wales since October 30, 2019. An excellent crowd of 10,129 runners and walkers from 425 companies – Sydney’s largest gathering since its debut in 2000 – came together that carefree night months before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

This year’s crowd wasn’t quite as large – 6,085 entrants representing 294 businesses – but it was an excellent first stride back and the enthusiasm was genuine.

“The entire team at MA Financial is very excited about participating in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge again,” said Enda Stankard, team captain for MA Financial. “Our corporate advisory, asset management and lending businesses have grown rapidly in the last 12 months and the Corporate Challenge will be a great opportunity to re-connect with old colleagues and meet some new ones. We’re proud to have one of the largest teams in the field and look forward to some friendly competition.”

MA Financial entered 109 employees, putting them squarely in the list of the 10 companies who registered the most entrants, including Ernst & Young (183 entrants), Australian Securities Exchange (155), Westpac (126), PwC (110), HSBC (104), TAL Services (99), KPMG (93), Allens (85), and Mercer (79).

“PwC has been a long-standing supporter of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Sydney and around the world with some of our Sydney based staff having also competed in other events globally over the years before relocating to Australia,” said Lucy Dickens, Senior Manager PwC. “Coming out of COVID, we were looking for activities to bring staff back together, get fit and work towards a goal. The Corporate Challenge hits so many objectives: wellness, inclusion, community spirit and networking with many of our valued clients also participating.”

And PwC, one of the Big Four accounting firms, came back to the Corporate Challenge in form, training regularly and recruiting record-breaking numbers.

“We have our largest Sydney contingent ever competing this year with runners made up substantially from our PwC Sydney Run Club who have been training in the mornings in Barangaroo two days a week leading up to the big day,” said Dickens. “A special shout out also to the organizing team at J.P. Morgan who have been superb in supporting the registration process and so responsive to our needs.”

J.P. Morgan, the owner and operator of the event, had robust participation on race night, too, bringing 481 of its employees to the Centennial Park starting line. The firm also celebrated the occasion by donating, for the ninth consecutive year, to the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMF).

IMF was started by world marathon champion Rob de Castella in 2009 and helps develop inspirational Indigenous leaders – people aged between 18-30 – who become role models in their families’ communities. The results have been more than commendable as, to date, 122 Indigenous Marathon Project graduates that have all completed a major international marathon and a compulsory education, currently a Cert IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) fully understands the Corporate Challenge mission statement of healthy competition, team work and community.

“ASX is really looking forward to this year’s Corporate Challenge, especially the return of the in-person event and the atmosphere and energy that this brings,” said ASX team captain Ben Jackson.

ASX has participated in each of the 20 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenges in Centennial Park, and its appeal was easy for Jackson to quantify.

“As Chair of the ASX Wellbeing committee, I have encouraged ASX staff to enter, train and participate in this year’s event and I am delighted that we have had a record number of 155 take up the challenge,” Jackson, who has captained ASX the last 15 years, continued. “This is a great opportunity to connect and nurture the long-standing partnerships we have with our customers and communities - many of which extend beyond financial markets.”

Allens, an international commercial law firm, is another Sydney business that has been in Centennial Park for each of the 20 Corporate Challenges.

"Allens sponsors a number of sporting events for our staff throughout the year, but the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is always top of our list and the event that garners more participation within Allens than any other,” said Tom Highnam, team captain and Partner at Allens. “It's the combination of the friendly but competitive atmosphere and being able to compete with your work colleagues and major clients which makes it enduringly popular. We've had an Allens team at every Sydney event since its inception in 2000. It's the race that kick-starts the festive season – long may it continue!"

The individual winners in the 3.5-mile (5.6km) race were Jack Hillier, representing Reserve Bank of Australia, in the men’s division with a finishing time of 18:03 and Lexy Gilmour of Westpac in the women’s division with a time of 19:37.

For Gilmour this was her fourth J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge individual title. She had previously won in 2019 (19:44), 2017 (19:21), and 2016 (19:25).

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Sydney 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.

“This is the 15th year I have participated in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge having run in both Singapore and Sydney events previously,” said Brett Jager, team captain for HSBC. “I find it’s a great way to test your fitness each year and a really fun event. I have been lucky enough to be HSBC Sydney team captain since 2015 and it’s been pleasing to see the participation levels grow strongly during this time with all segments of the bank represented this year. It’s great to being participating in the event again after the hiatus and similar to previous years there are some amazing stories of increased awareness of health & wellbeing encouraged by this event.”    

Having made its Australian visit, the 2022 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series completes its global tour by visiting Buenos Aires on November 3 and the Singapore event HSBC’s Jager referenced above on November 10.