Flocks of runners in ‘Corporate Challenge’ today
ALBANY Like many running in CDPHP’s Corporate Challenge, Andrew Rickert was first roped in by his co-workers.
He was working part time at the College of Saint Rose when a few employees goaded him into running the annual 3.5-mile jaunt through downtown Albany. From that time on, he was hooked.
“It’s definitely a fun environment,” said Rickert, who now captains a team of 40 Saint Rose workers in today’s race. “You get to see people you don’t see all the time.”
Of course, Rickert is no casual runner. The former standout from the University at Albany now coaches its cross country team and is an assistant to its track team.
This year, he’s enlisted the help of a couple familiar faces: Saint Rose alum Macky Lloyd, a recent graduate now serving as an assistant coach of the track team, and Tyler Gantz, another alum now working in the college’s information technology department. He’s hoping the two will anchor the college’s top four-man team as they look to best Corporate Challenge juggernauts like General Electric, Fleet of Feet Sports and Albany Running Exchange Event Productions.
“The race gets more and more competitive each year,” he said.
And one that is larger than ever. This year’s race has a record 9,323 registered runners on roughly 450 teams.
Runners are coming from large corporations, small private businesses, school districts and state agencies. They range in ability from competitive local runners that can cruise five-minute miles to workers jogging for the first time since their youth.
“You name it, they’re in it,” said Mike Rabideau, the race director.
Rabideau said the key to the race now is the camaraderie it builds, bringing employees of an organization together for an early evening run through the capital city.
“It’s not as much of a running event as it is a team-building event,” he said.
The race typically draws a large number of entrants from state offices. This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will feature 116 runners, including the second-year head of the agency, Commissioner Joseph Martens.
The agency has had more than 350 workers run in the event and has had a team place in the top 10 finishers of the event 14 times. Spokeswoman Lisa King said the DEC even keeps records of participants in the race, which has become a source of pride.
“It’s definitely something DEC employees look forward to every year,” she said.
General Electric will run its largest team ever in this year’s race. Spokesman Todd Alhart said GE will have about 425 people running from around its operations throughout the Capital Region.
“Our numbers are up more than 100 people from last year,” he said.
Albany Medical Center will have another strong showing, with three teams and 328 runners.
“The Corporate Challenge provides a great opportunity for employees to get together outside of work and build team spirit both within our walls and on the course,” spokeswoman Susan Ford said.
Not all teams will have hundreds of runners. C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station will have about 15 runners, including manager Matt Machlowski, who hasn’t run in more than five years.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
Even The Daily Gazette is entering a modest team. The Gazette’s newsroom will have about a dozen workers in the race, including Managing Editor Judy Patrick, who is participating for the third consecutive year.
The race will also mean traffic snarls throughout the Albany area from rush hour and beyond the 6:25 p.m. start. Washington Park will be closed to vehicle traffic from 4 to 8 p.m., along with a long stretch of Madison Avenue.