A Tribute to the 2020 Workforce Team Challenge

by Karoline Chrzanowski-Sears

Someone once told me that it’s the largest race between Utica and New York City. The Workforce Team Challenge (WTC) has been my favorite race of the year since I moved to the greater Capital District over 10 years ago. I’m generally not a fan of extremely large races or too many people on a racecourse, but there is something special about this day and those are the traits I love most about this race. Maybe it’s the festival atmosphere or the camaraderie of 10,000 people coming together, but I know one thing - it’s very much missed this year.

This year would have been my 8th race; I proudly hang my WTC bibs at my desk at work and at this point almost nothing could stop me from participating. I’ve run for three different teams over 7 races, only missing one year due to a knee injury in 2013 (but I still went to watch and cheer). I’ve run 8 weeks pregnant, 5 months postpartum, in 95+ degree heat, and under the threat of thunderstorms.

When I went for a mid-morning run on Thursday, May 22, 2020, my intent was just to get out of the house in the middle of a work-from-home day to stretch my legs. I grabbed blindly for a shirt in the drawer and planned to get in a 5k for ARE’s Social Distance Challenge. As I walked out the door, I realized I had donned my 2019 Team NYSED WTC team shirt. And then I remembered what day it was - and went just a little farther to complete a 3.5 mile run instead of 5k. After my run, I posted on ARE’s Facebook group page, “we should have been gearing up for the Workforce Team Challenge today! Instead of running with 10,000 people, I ran it today all by myself. Still made sure to represent Team NYSED.” Running can be a very solitary sport, but races like the WTC remind us of the strong running community we are all a part of, even in these times of separation. Stay safe and see you at the starting line again soon.

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