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Moog aims for another Corporate Challenge team title

Despite being captain of the Moog Inc. squad that’s won four of the last six J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge men’s team races, Don Sellon isn’t all about the end result.

“It’s not the main purpose for Moog participating,” Sellon said, “but it certainly is a nice conclusion to the race if one of our teams wins.”

And it’s a common conclusion for Moog. Last year’s winning Moog men’s team will travel to San Francisco Sept. 9 to compete in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship.

Moog Inc. – a worldwide company with nearly 3,000 employees in its local branch – will have 214 entrants in the 2015 Corporate Challenge in Delaware Park Thursday, starting at 6:45 p.m.

Moog winners have traveled to places like South Africa, Singapore and Chicago to compete in the championships.

“It’s a great opportunity for the guys to go and see what it’s like with the other winning teams from around the world,” said Sellon, adding that J.P. Morgan covers all the trip’s expenses.

The Moog runners train themselves, but the event is encouraged by the company’s InHealth wellness program. Sellon added, “Doesn’t hurt that it’s followed by a nice big party, but the activity itself is something we are very pleased that folks participate in.”

Sellon believes the company began participating in 1981, and Sellon’s first race was 1984. The captain for nearly 30 years has participated in the race every year expect for two. One he missed due to a wedding anniversary, the other he was recovering from knee surgery.

He’s seen the race grow from around 1,200 people to the more than 12,000 registered this year. Back in the ’80s, only runners were allowed. Now, many come out to walk the 3.5-mile path.

“I think there’s just no way anyone can be in Delaware Park on that Thursday evening and not just be awed by that number of tents, companies and people,” Sellon said.

There is also a highly competitive individual component to the race. Vasilis Kariolis, the 2013 Buffalo News co-runner of the year, won his third straight Corporate Challenge last year representing Dopkins Co. His time last year was 17 minutes, 48 seconds over the 3.5-mile distacne.

Gabrielle Leo, then a University at Buffalo senior who was running for Wegmans, won the women’s side in 21:08. She edged out Jennifer Boerner, who finished third in the 2014 Buffalo News runner-of-the-year standings, by six seconds in near-perfect running conditions.

It’s expected to be a packed park as 12,375 participants from 396 companies will compete – marking the fifth-largest crowd in the 35-year history of the Buffalo chapter and the second-largest since 2000. Only New York City (39 years) has hosted the event longer. The race is run in 13 cities around the world, including London.

The Wegmans and Tops Markets rivalry will spill over to the races, as Wegmans has overtaken Tops for the most participants. Tops, which led the 2014 race with 574 entrants, is the second-most represented company this year with 472. Wegmans leads with 545.

Ingram Micro (409), Kaleida Heath (321), HSBC (250), Moog Inc. (214), Erie County Medical Center (209) and Fidelis Care (204) are the other companies with at least 200 runners.

J.P. Morgan will donate a portion of the proceeds to Buffalo’s Kevin Guest House and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Kevin Guest House is a not-for-profit that has been providing temporary housing for families with loved ones in hospitals for 42 years. The idea began when Kevin Garvey’s family struggled to find affordable housing when their 13-year-old son was being treated at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The race starts on Amherst Street near Colvin Avenue and is mostly run on Delaware Avenue. Runners will go to Gates Circle and the site of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital before turning back to finish on Ring Road in Delaware Park – the same route as in previous years.

The path includes Amherst Street, Delaware Avenue, Nottingham and Middlesex, all which will be closed to car traffic between 5 and 8 p.m.

There in no parking permitted in the grass areas in and around Delaware Park or at Medaille College, and the traffic and parking situation is typically strained.

Spectators are urged to park at Buffalo State College, lots L and M. There will be a free shuttle provided from Lot L, from 4 to 6:15 p.m. and picking up again from 8:30 to 10 p.m.