The 2011 Chase Corporate Challenge was a first for me.  It’s not the first time I ran the distance, nor the first time I ran this event.  It was however the first time I raced to compete against a person.  Normally the clock and my own will is my nemesis.  This year my goal was to beat a  person.

The Chase Corporate Challenge is not targeted towards hard core runners like myself.  The race is “self timed” meaning that you must remember and report your own time.  The event is geared toward team building for companies.  As a result the vast majority of the participants don’t know how to behave at a race.  They don’t know what their pace is.  They don’t know race etiquette.   Walkers line up at the 6 min/mile markers.  Tough guys sprint out only to stop and walk after a half mile.  Though I sound critical I’m not.  It’s great for what it is supposed to be.  But if you are a hard core runner looking for a great race this just isn’t the event.

I didn’t want to run it.  I felt tired and I wanted to do nothing — no weight training and no running.  But many people were rooting for me since I was the underdog.  You see, one person at my company has won for our company for at least the past four years.  Two years ago I surprised him and nearly beat him.  I finished just one step behind him but with the same finish time on the clock.

This year played out almost the same as two years ago.  I lined up with my opponent.  He started much faster that I was comfortable going so I let him go.  About 1.5 miles in I saw him far ahead.  I slowly closed the gap.  By 2 or 2.5 miles into the race I knew I would catch up to him.  This is where the race was different for me than any other race I’ve done.  Instead of pushing myself to my limits I was strategizing.  When should I pass him?  How much does he have left?  Does he know how close I am?  Is he saving energy for the final kick too?  Should I push the pace now or wait until the final kick?

I caught up to him at mile marker 3 (it’s a 3.5 mile event).  He was expecting me and gave me a high five.  I did not talk. I was focused.  We ran primarily side by side.  Each of us slowly increasing our pace wondering who had more left.  As we approached the finish with maybe 200 meters left I saw my daughter holding her hand out for a high five.  With mixed emotions I did not give her a high five.  I was focused on running.  I was pushing beyond what I thought my limits were.  My competition was at my shoulder.  I couldn’t give up any time (sorry Cassie!).

We rounded the corner and saw the finish.  We started to kick.  I pushed hard.  When I thought I had him beat he was still right on my shoulder.  I kicked harder somehow finding more energy when I thought I had nothing left.  I gave it my all focusing like a laser on the finish.  I crossed the finish and there he was — still at my shoulder.  We finished in a dead tie.  There is no doubt, the announcer even made a comment about us finishing at the same time.  This time I wasn’t a step behind but I wasn’t a step ahead either.  Maybe next year I’ll be one step ahead!

We finished the 3.5 miles in 21:06 (approximately 6:02 per mile).  Our last half mile was a 5:34 pace!  This was one of the best, most memorable race experiences of my life and I didn’t even want to go!  The official results have not been posted but unofficially we finished as the 28th overall and 20th overall male.  Out of nearly 9,000 participants I’d estimate only a few hundred were serious runners.

For this event each company can submit a team time.  That time consists of the four best times from your company.  The winning team is sent to the world championships.  Last year the championship race was held in South Africa.  The top 5 teams from each city are given an award.  Unofficially my team placed fourth!  I’m very proud of this since we are a small company competing against giants like Kodak, Xerox, Wegmans, Harris, etc.



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