Corporate Challenge expects to draw 12,000 tonight - The Buffalo News
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Corporate Challenge expects to draw 12,000 tonight

Andrea Marschner has worked for Delaware North for only a year and a half, but it took her no time at all to learn an important lesson about corporate life.

When possible, delegate responsibility.

Marschner, an administrative assistant at the company’s headquarters, last year was given the job of team captain for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, which will be held tonight starting at 6:45 at Delaware Park. She liked it enough to return to the job this time.

Captains are something of the unsung heroes of the entire operation, since they coordinate a team’s participation in the weeks leading up to the event. The company coordinators are joined by a host of others, from people who set up and break down hospitality tents to those on traffic control.

“The first thing we did was assemble a team of four to five people, so that it’s not an overwhelming task,” Marschner said about her job. “Each person has a role. I took care of registering the team. Someone was in charge of food and beverages, another took care of corporate T-shirts — the creative aspect of designing it. The last person took care of sign-up, getting shirt sizes and so forth.”

Multiply that by 400 captains and their teams, and you get an idea of the scope of putting on an event that attracts a five-figure crowd every summer.

“It’s a nice way to meet people associated with the company,” Marschner said about the job, which can involve a little “recruiting” of the runners around the office. One of them was Charlie Roberts of the communications department.

“We’ve got quite a few runners,” Roberts said. “We have another person named Charlie Roberts in the company. I’m always gunning for him, but he edges me by about 12 seconds every year.”

Once the running and walking is done, companies gather in individual tents for food and beverages. The Delaware North tent figures to be a little crowded, and not just because the firm’s business is food management.

“There are going to be 135 people there, including 85 racers,” Marschner said. “Others can pay $10 and just partake in the festivities without running. That’s up from 92 last year.”

It’s also a rare chance for some people who work for the same company to actually gather in the same place for a change.

“We’ve got such a presence in Western New York. We’re associated with Hamburg Gaming, the Buffalo Niagara Airport, Niagara Falls State Park, Ralph Wilson Stadium,” Roberts said. They also are associated with First Niagara Center. “It’s nice to bring everyone together.”

As for the race itself, the field often consists of some of the best runners in the area. Last year turned out to be a good example of that.

The 2013 winners were Vasilis Kariolis and Allison Carr. Kariolis, who has won the Challenge two straight times, and Carr (three Challenge wins overall) both went on to capture The News’ Runner of the Year championship in 2013. Kariolis tied for first in the series with Chris Walters.

Kariolis finished in 17 minutes and 27 seconds over the 3.5-mile course. Carr had a time of 20:35 on a day that featured an all-day rain but without the element of lightning that might have forced the cancellation of the event.

This is the 34th annual race for Buffalo in the series, which is staged in cities around the world. Only New York (38 years) has been at it longer. Almost 12,000 people are expected to either run or walk the distance.

Tops Friendly Markets has the largest contingent at 574 entrants followed by Ingram Micro (428), Buffalo Public Schools (299) and Kaleida Health (264).

J.P. Morgan will donate some of the proceeds to the National Academy Foundation, which has worked with area students since 1986. Twelve NAF academies serve 900 students.

The course has not changed in recent years. The starting line is on Amherst Street near Colvin Avenue. Runners will head down Delaware, turn around at Gates Circle, and return to the finish line in Delaware Park via Nottingham and Middlesex. Those streets will be closed to car traffic from 5 to 8 p.m.

That sort of crowd is going to cause some traffic chaos in the Delaware Park area, as usual. Visitors should remember that no parking is allowed on the grass areas around Delaware Park or at Medaille College.

Spectators are urged to take shuttle buses from Buffalo State College. Lots L and M will be available, with buses stopping at Lot L.


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