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Defending champions offer advice for 2019 Corporate Challenge

Buffalo loves a party and in the running community there’s no bigger soiree than the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.

The 39th annual event, set for Thursday, will feature the largest number of companies in its history.

A total of 13,869 full-time employees from 427 Western New York businesses have entered the field, breaking the record of 419 companies set in 2013, organizers said. The record for participants is 14,145 set last year.

The Buffalo event is the second-oldest in the series behind New York City, which hosted the initial Corporate Challenge and has held races for 43 years.

Among those in the field are defending champions Alexander Simon and Kim Vona Tomasik.

“I would like to do my best to defend the title for my company, ECMC, but really I will be aiming to just beat my time from last year (18 minutes, 32 seconds),” Simon said. “If that is good enough to take the win, then that’s great, but I’d like to concentrate on improving.”

Simon spent the last several months training for the Buffalo Marathon, in which he placed third overall with a time of 2:41:41. And that’s a different beast from the Corporate Challenge.

“Conditioning for a marathon is a lot different for a 5K or 3.5 miles, but overall the training for both prepares you to run at a hard effort,” Simon said. “Approaching a race like the Corporate Challenge, I usually focus on doing more interval speed training.”

For Tomasik, the Corporate Challenge has been one of her goal races for 2019, but more importantly, it’s a race she gets to share with her husband, whom she met through the sport.

“Overall, I am healthy and training well,” said Tomasik, who works for Batavia Downs. “It would be fun to defend the title, but if not, that’s OK. I’ll know I did my best and I have a lot of respect for the women out there training just as hard as me.

“This year, I will be running under a different name. I got married to the love of my life in October 2018 and he is also running the Corporate Challenge. We met through running in Buffalo and it’s an activity we do because we love it.”

Advice from the champs

“I go into this race knowing it’s a large and competitive crowd and let that energy fuel me,” Tomasik said. “Get there early, don’t get overwhelmed, and have fun.”

“If you’re competing for the first time, don’t worry yourself about the details, just run,” Simon said. “The only thing you should ensure is that you don’t start too fast. That’s one of the things I love about running – you can just walk off your porch and do it without having a thousand details circling through your mind about technique or timing. Granted, those things are important, but not nearly as much as in some other sports.”

Change in the race start

The biggest change in the race this year is the start time. The race begins at 6:25 p.m. – 20 minutes earlier than in previous years.

Road closures

The earlier start requires the roads around Delaware Park to close earlier. Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to the race, or just trying to navigate around the Delaware Park area:

  • The Parkside Avenue exit from Route 198 will be heavily traveled from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Traffic will also be heavy around SUNY Buffalo State from 4-6 p.m. and from 8 to 10 p.m.
  • Amherst Street, from Colvin Avenue to Nottingham Terrace will be closed from 5 to 8:15 p.m.
  • The primary race course on Delaware Avenue, affecting Amherst to West Ferry Street and parts of Nottingham and Middlesex Road, will be closed from 6:10 to 8:15 p.m.

Getting to the race

The best way to get there is to use the free shuttle for runners, walkers and spectators from SUNY Buffalo State. Parking is available for the Corporate Challenge in Lots G20-G22. The shuttle will run between the race site and parking lots from 4:15 to 6 p.m., with priority to registered participants, and from 8 to 10 p.m.

No parking is allowed in the grass areas around Delaware Park or at Medaille College.

Charity of choice

J.P. Morgan will donate to the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center, a comprehensive small business technical resource center that supports entrepreneurship and innovation for minority, women and service-disabled veteran business owners in Buffalo and Western New York.

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Race calendar

Tuesday, June 11

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 4, 3.5 miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Thursday, June 13

  • Buffalo J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, 6:25 p.m., 3.5 miles, Delaware Park, Buffalo

Saturday, June 15

  • The Janeen Kelly Memorial Run, 5K, 9 a.m., Mang Park, Kenmore
  • Trooper Brinkerhoff 5K and 10K, 10 a.m., Boston Town Park
  • 5th Annual James Metz Memorial Scholarship Run, 5K, 10 a.m., Keysa Park, Brady Avenue and Vanderberg Avenue, Lancaster
  • Grassroots Gardens, 5K and 10K, 3 p.m., LaSalle Waterfront Park, Niagara Falls

Tuesday, June 18

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5 miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Thursday, June 20

  • Knox Farm Trail Run, 5 miles, 6:30 p.m., Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora
  • West Seneca Community 5K, 6:30 p.m. Bi-Centennial Pool, 50 Legion Parkway, West Seneca
  • Chase the Sun Summer Solstice 5K, 7:30 p.m., Nativity of Our Lord School, 26 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park

Friday, June 21

  • St. Gregory The Great Great Race, 5K, 7 p.m., 100 St. Gregory Court, Williamsville

Sunday, June 23

  • Ashley May 5K, 10 a.m., Galanti Park, 230 Martin Road, Lackawanna

Tuesday, June 25

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 6, 3.5 miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Wednesday, June 26

  • 25th Annual Loughran's Alumni Cup 5K Run, 7 p.m., Loughran's Bar & Restaurant, 4543 Main St., Snyder

Friday, June 28

  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston

Thursday, July 4

  • Dick Bessel Independence Day Run, 2.3 miles, 9 a.m., Grand Island Town Hall, 2255 Baseline Road
  • Bob Giza Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Club 10K, 9 a.m., Boys & Girls Club, 5440 Broadway, Lancaster

Saturday, July 6

  • Marauder Trotter 5K, 9 a.m., Wright Park, Dunkirk
  • Tommy's Run 5K, 10 a.m., Orchard Park Train Depot, 395 S. Lincoln Ave., Orchard Park

Thursday, July 11

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 1, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
  • 14th Annual Alden's 5K Race for Scholarships, 6:30 p.m., Alden Central High School, 13190 Park St., Alden

Friday, July 12

  • 39th ESB Engineering Scholarship Run 5K, 7 p.m., Buffalo Harbor State Park, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd.

Saturday July 13

  • Run for Bereda 5K, 8:30 a.m., Welch Field, Elm and Third streets, Westfield
  • Rosie the Riveter 5K, 8:30 a.m., Templeton Landing, 2 Templeton Terrace.
  • Tuscarora Nation 10K and 2.5 mile run, 9 a.m., Tuscarora Indian School, 2015 Mount Hope Road, Lewiston
  • 50 Yard Finish 5K, 9 a.m., New Era Field, 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park

Sunday, July 14

  • Matthew Hazelton Memorial 5K, 9 a.m., Clarion Hotel, 30 Lake Shore Drive East, Dunkirk

Tuesday, July 16

  • Okay 5K Fun Run/Wellness Walk, 7 p.m., Delaware Park Ring Road

Thursday, July 18

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 2, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
  • Chestnut Ridge 5-Mile Trail Run, 6:30 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park
  • St. John Vianney Kickoff Run 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. John Vianney R.C. Church, 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park
  • Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest, 4 miles, 7 p.m., Crazy Jake's, 26 Webster St., North Tonawanda

Friday, July 19

  • Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase, 7 p.m., Bidwell Parkway
  • St. Mary's 5K Chowder Chase, 7 p.m., St. Mary's Church of Swormville, 6919 Transit Road

Saturday, July 20

  • The McGreevy Run For All Heroes, 5K, 8:30 a.m., Portville Central School, 500 Elm St., Portville
  • Laurel Memorial Run 5K, 8:30 a.m., Silver Creek Village Square, corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, Silver Creek
  • Buffalo Undy Run & Walk, 9 a.m., Delaware Park, Amherst/Colvin entrance
  • 10th Annual Character Chase 5K, 9:30 a.m., Union Pleasant Elementary School, 150 Pleasant Ave., Hamburg

Sunday, July 21

  • EVL-9 and EVL-4 Trail Runs, 9:30 a.m., Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, Ellicottville

Thursday, July 25

  • Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 3, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville

Friday, July 26

  • Kenilworth Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 Centennial 5K, 6 p.m., Lincoln Arena, 1200 Parker Blvd., Tonawanda
  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston

Saturday, July 27

  • Queen City Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, 8 a.m., Sahlen Field, 275 Washington St.
  • Dash 'N Splash Family Fun Run, 2.5 Miles, 9 a.m., Frontier Middle School, 2751 Amsdell Rd., Hamburg
  • Darren Manzella-Lapeira Memorial 5K Run, 10 a.m., American Legion Post 434, 110 W. Main St., Brocton

Sunday, July 28

  • Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race, 5K, 10 a.m., Orchard Park Soccer Complex, 6909 Milestrip Road, Orchard Park

Tuesday, July 30

  • Jackhammer Trail Series No. 1, 3.2 Miles, 6:30 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park

Wednesday, July 31

  • Ronald McDonald House 5K, 6:30 p.m., Ronald McDonald House, 780 W. Ferry St.
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