(07-Jul) -- The largest road race series in the world in terms of annual participants, the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series, has been cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 15-city, eight-country series, which attracted 251,299 runners from 7,581 companies last year, had been held continuously for 43 consecutive annual editions since being founded in 1977.
PHOTO: Edward Mothibi winning the 2019 J.P. Morgan Chase global championships race in San Francisco (photo courtesy of J.P. Morgan Chase)
"This is a unique chapter in the long, successful story of J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, but it won't be the last," said Ariel Lin, the executive director of sports & event marketing at JPMorgan Chase, the series organizer. "This would have been the biggest year in our history, with races on all six continents."
The series was set to add Buenos Aires, Dallas and Philadelphia this year, joining Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, New York, Rochester, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. The series championships was to be contested in conjunction with the London event on July 1; the championships rotate between cities.
To participate, runners must be bona-fide employees of the companies they represent and have full-time jobs. Companies can field male, female, or mixed-gender teams which are scored in separate divisions. Each race is the same distance, 3.5 miles/5.64 kilometers, the original distance used when the series was founded by Manufacturers Hanover, a New York-based bank which was later absorbed by Chemical Bank, one of J.P. Morgan Chase's predecessor companies.
The London stop on the 2019 tour was the largest, boasting 24,628 finishers over two days. The fastest times recorded in 2019 were 15:48 by Edward Mothibi of South Africa's Implats in the championship event (equivalent to a 13:54 5-K) and 18:56 by Stephanie Rouse of University of California San Francisco in the San Francisco event (equivalent to a 16:39 5-K). European Central Bank was the series champion in the women's division, South Africa's Implats won the men's division, and UC San Francisco won the mixed-gender edition.
In March, when the pandemic was ramping up, officials had hoped to reschedule the series, postponing all events through July 2. But last last month, they determined that holding the series simply wasn't possible given the growth of the pandemic, especially in the United States.
"Our enthusiasm will hold for a year as we commit to the safety of our participants," Ms. Lin said.