This is one of those races that everyone should experience at least once. There’s just something about running, jogging or walking with 10,900+ other people that’s cool. Rochester is fortunate to be one of the tour stops for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. This race is not a 5k (3.1 miles), but measures in at a little longer at 3.5 miles. It’s an event intended to promote workplace fitness. Companies with teams of four or more can participate. It also has a charity aspect, green initiative and t-shirt contest connected to it.
This event holds special significance to me because it was the second race I ever ran (back in 2007). I ran it two more times after that, and then the company I was working for stopped participating. Flash forward to 2014, and my new employer signed up for it. Sadly, I have not been running at all. I’m too heavy to do so, so I knew I would be walking the event. Yes, this was bittersweet. Nevertheless, it was still amazing to see the sea of people. Hopefully, this will inspire me to get back to that healthy place where I used to be.
The course itself is relatively flat, except for one brief hilly part. It takes you around the whole campus at the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater!). Many years ago, the race was held by Highland Park, but they outgrew that location.
Weather can be an issue for this event. Since this is Rochester, where you can get snow one day and 90 degree temperatures the next, you have to be prepared for anything. One year it was freezing, the following year it was beyond humid, and another year had torrential rains (that was one of the years I ran it). I do remember a beautiful rainbow at the end, making it all worthwhile. We lucked out this year with great walking/running weather and temperatures in the 60s.
New to the race since I ran it in 2010 was chip timing. Previously, the race had been self-timed. The first year I ran it (2007), I finished in 43:29 (bad). I improved a lot the next year, shaving over 9 minutes off my time (34:13). In 2010, I ran it in about the same time (34:27). I timed myself (Garmin watch). The trick to that (back then) was that you did not start your watch until you got up to the starting mat – which could be up to TEN minutes after the starting gun went off. Yes, there were that many people!
You’re supposed to line up according to your expected pace per mile (8 minute, 9 minute, etc.), but many people didn’t do that and lined up by flags nowhere near their actual pace. So, you end up dodging and weaving around walkers and slower people. It can be annoying, but at the same time, I can understand people’s confusion if they’ve never run before and don’t even know their pace. In that case, you should line up near the slower paced flags. And, if you’ve never really run, you might be in for a bit of surprise when you realize that 3.5 miles is longer than you think. A lot of people who started out running way too fast had to slow down or stop and walk. None of that was an issue for me this year since I started with the walkers in the back. I don’t even want to say how I did this year (bad, slow, walking, ugh).
The logistics of getting to the race can be a bit tricky. You have to leave early and parking on campus is only allowed for your company’s team captain. The organizers highly recommend taking a shuttle (various locations). A new shuttle at the Dome Arena was added this year. The shuttle cost $1 (one way, no payment needed on the trip back). The race started at 7 pm, but most people get there well before that to socialize and warm up.
There’s a lot to love about this race, including its most unique aspect – the company participation and camaraderie. Where else will you see people from over 450 companies in one place? There are companies of all sizes – the big names of course – University of Rochester, Wegmans, Paychex, etc. and then smaller, lesser known organizations. There are tents everywhere. Not everyone runs. Many employees hang out to watch and support their coworkers, drink and eat. You can smell the food cooking as you’re running. It’s a great place to to network, party, bond with your coworkers and have a good time – all for a good cause and as a way to promote health and fitness.
I was disappointed in myself for not being able to run this race. I am proud I did participate (even if it was just walking) and want to make it a goal to be able to run this distance with ease next year. It was nice to get to know my new coworkers better (two ran, the rest walked) and hang out in the tent before and after the race.
Pros: Good course, great team building event, unique, fun to be in/watch, party atmosphere
Cons: Parking (although shuttle service is very organized), Not a race to choose if you want to run your best time. Faster runners are packed in like sardines at times – you will be weaving around people.
Cost: $34 (Many employers will pay some or all of this fee for their employees)
Amenities: You get a finishers t-shirt, but many organizations make their own as well. Post race snacks (bananas, water). Porta potties on site.
Race Results: Individual Times are sent to you and you can scan the QR code on your bib. Runner tracking also available.
Media coverage (articles/videos/photos): Democrat & Chronicle, Slideshow, Wham13, News10NBC, WROC TV 8 (more to come as I find them)
Best Sign: “Worst Parade Ever”
Cool Factor: Drones taking pictures of the crowd
Winners: Male: Mike Heymann (16:55) Female: Morgan Burrows (19:53)
The next race on my calendar is the Foam Fest 5k. Not sure how much I will be able to do (run/walk), but I will be there to at least capture the event. Now that the weather is finally nice again, I really have no excuse to not get out there.
How about you – how are your running and fitness plans going? If you ran/walked this race, I would love to hear about it!
Thanks for reading, and, until next time, see you on the roads! 🙂
(Scroll down for a few more photos)