It’s feeling a lot like Christmas at the 21st running of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Sydney

“Better than the Christmas party.”

That is how Leeza Fuzi, team captain for consulting firm Mercer, enthusiastically described the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Sydney.

“We have been a long-term participant in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, and have one of the largest teams,” said Fuzi. “We get a good mixture of return colleagues wanting to participate and also a lot of new colleagues. Our sister companies, Marsh and Oliver Wyman, joined in so there was mingling in the marquee after the event. It’s important to us to promote health and wellness and team building.”

The 21st edition of the 5.6km J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Sydney, starting and finishing in Centennial Park, attracted a crowd of 9,279 entrants from 428 companies. This represents an increase of 52% in the total number of entries and a 46% increase in the number of participating companies from 2022 (6,085 entrants from 294 companies). It’s the largest number of companies participating in Sydney’s history, topping the previous record of 425 in 2019.

“Our team members jumped at the chance to shine bright in orange during the Corporate Challenge this year,” said Deanna Rose, team captain for financial services firm ING. “We had participants from all across the business excited by the chance to mingle with fellow INGers outside of the office. Many were also looking forward to revealing their competitive sides!”

Many of the largest businesses in Sydney were eager to show their skills over Centennial Park’s 5.6km race course. J.P. Morgan registered an event-best 488 entrants, followed by the Australian Securities Exchange (237), Westpac (230), PwC (177), Perpetual (173), Ernst & Young (128), HSBC (126), Scentre Group (126), Mercer (110), and MA Financial (109).

“Westpac has been involved in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge for many years,” said Lachlan Oakes, team captain for the multinational financial services firm. “It is always an important event on the calendar, as it provides staff with a goal which they can work towards together, whether it is aiming to run the whole way, improve their personal best, or just have fun while engaging in a healthy activity.  Staff always look forward to the event each year as it is a great night of team bonding, and there is extra motivation to finish the run faster to be first to the food & drinks!”

Getting to the post-race hospitality spread first – officially – were James Nipperess of the Reserve Bank of Australia and Georgia Winkcup of Corrs Chambers Westgarth. And they got there more quickly than almost all of the other male and female runners in the 2023 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series.

Nipperess broke the tape in 16:54, making him the 10th fastest male over the 13 events held thus far in the 2023 Series. Winkcup’s 19:04 positioned her on the Series Leaderboard as the third fastest woman – trailing only the 18:08 submitted by J.P. Morgan’s Lucy Reid in London and the 19:03 logged in Frankfurt by Amelie Svensson, representing German Railway Sports Club.

There were plenty of victories further back in the pack of entrants, as the Corporate Challenge embraced its reputation as a supreme networking event.

“The Metrics team is thrilled to join the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge again,” said Andrew Lockhart, Managing Partner, Metrics Credit Partners. “Our business has grown rapidly, and the Corporate Challenge gives our team a great opportunity to build rapport with the wider business and network on the day. This activity strongly aligns with our objectives of promoting wellness, inclusion, and fostering a sense of community spirit within our organization.”

Michael McLean, team captain for investment management firm Challenger, was another who realizes the benefit of participating in the Corporate Challenge extends well beyond the finish line.

“We enjoy coming together for this event, reigniting forgotten fitness goals, sharing our success stories and simply the camaraderie over post-race drinks,” McLean said. “At Challenger, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive organization, so it's no surprise that a significant portion of our office has eagerly entered the run – it's another opportunity for us all to come together and have some fun.”

There was a community benefit as well, with J.P. Morgan once again supporting the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) for the tenth consecutive year as the Corporate Challenge beneficiary. IMF was started by world marathon champion Rob de Castella in 2009 and helps develop inspirational Indigenous leaders – men and women aged between 18-30 – who become role models in their communities.

The partnership with IMF was a key driver for the large participation from financial services firm such as Perpetual.

“Our people love the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge and were super excited to be getting involved again this year, with our biggest team participating to date!” said Perpetual team captain India Watson. “The heart of our business is defined by care, and this is a value that all of our people hold which is why so many love getting involved. It’s the perfect combination of being able to come together as a united team, getting active and supporting a brilliant cause.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series as it travels next to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on Thursday, October 26. The 47th year of the Series is into its stretch run with only DFW, Buenos Aires (November 2), and Shanghai (November 16) remaining. Overall, the Series is on track to increase its entries this calendar year by more than 70-percent.