On a windy and unseasonably warm evening in Chicago last night, the New York Road Runners team of Ro Crispin, John Honerkamp, Skip Stiles, and Stuart Calderwood toed the Grant Park starting line knowing that that the competition would be tough. This was, after all, a race for an international title.
“When they said this was a world championship, they weren’t kidding,” said Crispin (in photo). “Everyone there was really fast.”
NYRR fought hard, finishing sixth in the 3.5-mile championship of the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge after coming in seeded seventh. Their combined time was 1:17:34.
The quartet earned the right to compete in the 29th annual series championship by virtue of their Corporate Challenge victory last June in New York. At the championship, 13 teams representing seven countries competed in the men’s division, which was won by Transnet Rail Engineering, a team from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1:07:22.
Leading the way for NYRR was Crispin in 18:06, followed by Honerkamp (18:41), Stiles (19:18) and Calderwood (21:29).
“We had ‘USA’ on our bibs,” said Calderwood, 54, in a telephone interview from the post-race party, with a Blues Brothers tribute band playing loudly in the background. “That’s a first for most of us.”
Calderwood is a Senior Editor at NYRR who holds several American track records in the 50-54 age group and owns international masters medals in the marathon and half-marathon. Stiles, an Assistant Manager, Event Entertainment & Production, ran for the University of New Hampshire and has a long coaching history. Honerkamp, Manager of Runner Products and Services, was a star athlete at St. John’s University and an 800-meter semifinalist at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials; he’s coached for 15 years. Crispin, a Manager, Event Management, also ran for the University of New Hampshire, and placed fourth overall in the Central Park race last June that qualified the team for the championship.
The South African team took the race out hard and Crispin went with them, running a 4:38 first mile. “I tried to go with the top pack and see what would happen,” he said. “I paid the price. A lot of teams went out too hard. But it was a lot of fun and a great experience, and it was fun to represent the NYRR and all of New York, as well.”
A team from Transnet Rail Engineering also won the women’s division, in 1:26:59, and a squad from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York won the mixed-gender division, in 1:21:38. Competing for Sloan-Kettering were William Walkowicz, Joel Schrock, Erin Maloney, and Lindsay Van Alstine.
Overall, more than 300,000 runners competed in the 2011 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge series, which spans 13 cities around the world.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg