J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, 7/11/17, Rochester, NY

The J.P.Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge is “an annual series of 3.5-mile road footraces with an intended focus on promoting fitness, camaraderie and team work to employees of local businesses and organizations.” I couldn’t run it last year because I was too heavy. I only walked it. I’m not a fan of walking races at all – super boring, not a great workout and not a challenge. Fortunately, I finally got my act together and lost weight so I could run again. I’ve been running since last June.

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New this year was a complete change in venue. For years, the race has been held at the Rochester Institute of Technology in May. For some reason, they decided to change the venue to Frontier Field in downtown Rochester. They also changed the date to July. I wasn’t thrilled about the change because 1) running at night in mid summer can be difficult (humid/hot), and 2) the new venue meant my company would not have a tent (no food, water, mingling, etc. ) But, I wanted to do the race to prove to myself how far I’ve come since last year when I weighed over 200 lbs at this time. I haven’t lost any weight in 2017 (I’ve actually gained a bit since the New Year), but I have maintained a loss of 100 lbs (give or take, as I am not sure exactly what I weigh right now).

 

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The day of the race was humid – just as I had feared. We headed to Monroe Community College for the shuttle. It took an hour to get from the campus to the race site! The sun was beating down, and honestly, I felt like I had a workout already – sweating in that old school bus. Yuck.

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Once we got to Frontier Field, we were able to get some water (outside the venue – no outside food or drink allowed inside) and use the porta potties. We took some pre-race photos and then headed to the starting line. People wore different colored bibs based on their predicted pace. In previous years, they had signs indicating your pace – runners up front, walkers in the back. I didn’t see signs this year – just volunteers trying to keep people lined up according to bib color.

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I was close enough to the front to actually hear the pre-race speeches and National Anthem. The fastest runners took off at 6:45, and the rest of us followed. It took less than 2 minutes to get the to starting mat, a big contrast to the ten minutes in years past. This was largely in part due to fewer participants – closer to 8k. At RIT, over 10k used to run this race.

startinglineThe weather was sunny, hot and humid – 80s with over 65% humidity and no breeze (for the most part). I was warm within minutes. The course had downhill and uphill parts. There was very little shade – mainly under the bridges. I was able to maintain a decent pace and not waste too much energy weaving around people. I liked that the course was scenic, with views of Rochester and the water. There was a mile marker at mile one and a few water stops along the course. I did think that it was a BAD idea to give out water bottles instead of cups of water at the stops. It was a big waste as people only took a sip and also a dangerous hazard in the road you could trip over.

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By the time I got to mile 2, I was really ready to stop. But, I kept going and eventually saw the marker for mile 3 and then FINALLY the home stretch. The final part was the same route you take for the Rochester half marathon. I tried to pick up the pace for the last section the best I could. I ended up finishing in 37.07, a 10:36 min mile pace. Slow, but I will take it – all things considered (weight/heat/crowds).

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Only 5 of my coworkers (out of 36) participated. I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t trying to earn points for a running plaque, I would have passed on this one too.

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Our company team. Go team Oldcastle! #RochesterRecruitingOffice

That being said, the cool thing about this race is that it’s probably the largest race you’ll do. You are running alongside thousands of people. It’s very cool to see the throngs of people and be a part of that. However, if you don’t like crowds or are claustrophobic, that can be an issue. I like to run in my own pocket of space, but obviously at an event this big, it’s just not possible. I like seeing the wave of people. I just have to remind myself to conserve energy and not waste time weaving around people. Some walk, some start running at a pace too fast for them, etc… It’s all about the experience and not the time you get – so that’s fine.

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After the race, I walked underneath a huge misting fan – heavenly – and then went and got my t-shirt (redeemable via a tear off portion of your bib) and grabbed a banana. We then headed inside Frontier field where you could buy food and drink. Other companies paid for a spot inside the stadium. They also had a band playing on the field. It was awkward not having a space to hang out. And, even if you did, a stadium of seats certainly doesn’t make mingling or seeing the other companies easy. The whole point of the race is to have fun with your coworkers and see other local companies as well. This venue is not the place to do that! I heard many similar complaints. I’m not surprised they had lower numbers. Running a race mid summer is not fun for the casual runner. In addition, school districts are on break and people go on vacation. So, a big thumbs down for all that.

The shuttles to head back to MCC started at 8:30. The return trip was much quicker and cooler. All and all, I was glad I did the race – because I was unable to run it last year due to my weight. However, they definitely should reevaluate whether this is the right venue and date for this race. As for me, I don’t plan to run a race again until it’s cooler out (hello Fall!) and I’ve lost more weight. Until then – see you on the roads!

Time: 6:45 pm
Weather: 80s, sunny and humid
Location: Rochester, NY (Frontier Field)
Course:  3.5 miles – flat with some uphill & downhill parts, around the city 
Results:
2017
Press (includes slide show and video from race) Democrat & Chronicle
Amenities:
water bottles, bananas, shuttle service, porta potties
Waterstops: two
More Info: Rochester Race Website

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