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Running: Largest field in Buffalo history prepared for the 38th J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge

While the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is held in 13 cities in seven countries on five continents, there’s something uniquely Buffalo about the annual event.

It combines sport and spectacle, mixes athletic endeavor with socializing, and fosters competition in a supportive environment.

Buffalo is the second-oldest event in the 42-year-old series, trailing only New York City. The 38th running of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Buffalo will be at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at Delaware Park.

“It’s just such a Buffalo thing,” said Bob McArdle, market executive at Chase. “It kicks off the summer and it’s a great opportunity for corporate companies to come together and have a fun picnic day with a little bit of competition and networking and mingling with other companies in the area.”

J.P. Morgan first held its 3.5-mile race in Buffalo in 1981 with every year but one held within the confines of the Fredrick Law Olmstead park. (The exception was 1992 when the event was based across the street at The Nichols School.)

Companies have come and gone, both locally and on the national scene. Event sponsors have changed at major events across the country, but the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge remains a staple of the bank’s offering.

“I think it’s the DNA of who we are,” said McArdle, who was with the bank from 1991-2006 and returned three years ago. “In the business community it really shores up our commitment to the Buffalo market and it’s also a great way for our clients and the community to enjoy a low-key environment and have a lot of fun around that.”

It’s a place where business of all sizes mingle, and an opportunity for companies which started in Western New York to waive their hometown flag.

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“We’re a Buffalo-born company so it’s important to connect with our fellow Buffalo businesses and strengthen our community with events like this,” said Marc Heintzman, the team captain for Delaware North. “Just as the Corporate Challenge is staged by J.P. Morgan all over the world, we operate all over the world, but Buffalo is home and we’re very proud of that.

This year marks the largest field in Buffalo’s history with 14,145 runners and walkers from 391 companies.

Wegmans leads the crowd with 620 participants. The rest of the Top 10 are Ingram Micro (518), Kaleida Health (408), Buffalo Public Schools (366), Fidelis Care (293), Elderwood (256), Tops Markets (256), HSBC (253), M&T Bank (241), Erie County Medical Center (191), and Moog (179).

To be honest, the party is draws the crowd. Companies have tents throughout Delaware Park and the competition is as much about putting out a killer spread as it is about the run.

“I think it’s the comraderie that means the most,” said Kathleen Gregoire, the team captain for ECMC, which runs under the Great Lakes Health System along with Kalida and UBMD Physicians. “Co-workers can get together outside of a work setting in a relaxed atmosphere. People love to see what other companies are doing and visit with friends at other companies. It’s really just a big social gathering.”

The majority of the field may be there for party with a side of running or walking. But it’s also an opportunity for the casual runner or walker to mingle with some of Buffalo’s running elite. There’s more on the line than just bragging rights. First-place teams in three divisions are invited to the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Championship in Boston on June 21. In 2017, it was Praxair which won the men’s division, Tapestry Charter which won the women’s division, and Buffalo Rehab Group, which won the mixed division.

There’s also a nonprofit component as this year J.P. Morgan will donate to the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy, which preserves, restores and maintain the Olmsted parks, parkways and circles in the Greater Buffalo Area.

A record number of participants also means a record amount of traffic. Runners and walkers are strongly encouraged to take the free shuttle from Buffalo State College, where parking is available in Lots G20-G22. The shuttle will run before the race from 4:30-6 p.m. and after the race from 8-10 p.m.

There is no parking at Medaille College or in the grass areas in and around Delaware Park.

Amherst Street, from Colvin to Nottingham, will be closed between 5-8:15 p.m. There will also be street closures between 6:30-8:15 p.m. on the primary race course, including Delaware, Amherst, and parts of Nottingham and Middlesex.

The complete race course map is available online at jpmorganchasecc.com/city/buffalo.

Race Calendar

Tuesday, June 12

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 4, 3-miles, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Thursday, June 14

  • Chestnut Ridge 5-Mile Trail Run, 6:30 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Park, Newton Road Entrance, Orchard Park
  • Buffalo J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, 3.5-miles, 6:45 p.m., Delaware Park

Friday, June 15

  • St. Gregory The Great Great Race 5K, 7 p.m., 100 St. Gregory Court, Maple Road, between Hopkins and Ayer, Williamsville

Saturday, June 16

  • Niagara Ultra Races, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, 50K, 7 a.m. Kinsmen Scout Hall, 430 King St., Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
  • Father’s Day 5K, 9 a.m. Delaware Park, Colvin Road Entrance
  • Fluvanna Fest 5K, 9 a.m., 3363 Fluvanna Ave. Ext., Jamestown
  • James Metz Memorial Scholarship Run, 5K, 10 a.m., Keysa Park, Brady Ave & Vandenberg Ave, Lancaster
  • Trooper Brinkerhoff 5K and 10K, 10 a.m.,  Boston Town Park
  • Grassroots Gardens, 5K and 10K, 3 p.m., LaSalle Waterfront Park, Niagara Falls

Sunday, June 17

  • Father Baker Father's Day 5K, 9 a.m., South Lake Park, 2655 South Park Ave.

Tuesday, June 19

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5-mile trail run, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park

Thursday, June 21

  • West Seneca Community 5K, 6:30 p.m., Bi-Centennial Pool (behind American Legion Post) - 50 Legion Parkway, West Seneca
  • Black & Gold: Run The Hawk 5K, 6:30 p.m.,  Cardinal O'Hara High School, 39 O'Hara Rd, Tonawanda
  • Chase The Sun Summer Solstice 5K, 7:30 p.m., Nativity of Our Lord School, 26 Thorn Ave, Orchard Park

Saturday, June 23

  • 50 Yard Finish 5K, 9 a.m., New Era Field (Home of the Buffalo Bills), 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Par

Sunday, June 24

  • Run Jimmy Run Charity 5K, 10 a.m., Coca Cola Field, 275 Washington St, Buffalo
  • Ashley May 5K, 10 a.m., Galanti Park, 230 Martin Rd, Lackawanna
  • Bemus Point 10K, 7 p.m., Bemus Point Golf Course and Tap House, 72 Main Street, Bemus Point

Tuesday, June 26

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5-mile trail run, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park

Wednesday, June 27

  • Loughran's Alumni Cup 5K Run, 7 p.m., Loughran’s Bar & Restaurant, 4543 Main St., Snyder

Friday, June 29

  • Athletes Unleashed WOD Run, 5K, 6 p.m., Athletes Unleashed, 3689 California Rd, Orchard Park
  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 5K, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Rd, Lewiston

Saturday, June 30

  • Marauder Trotter 5K, 9 a.m.,  Wright Park, 1 Wright Park Dr, Dunkirk
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