by Benita Zahn
It’s been years since I was fortunate enough to lace‘em up and toe the line with the thousands of participants in the Workforce Challenge. Back then it was simply known as the MANNY HANNY as the bank Manufacturers Hanover Trust was the sponsor. Once I landed the job as anchor of the 4 and 6 p.m. news on WNYT, my ability to join the pack ended. While I delighted in our sportscaster Rodger Wyland’s live reports from the start line, I confess to being a bit jealous of those who would tackle the course. Where else can you get so many people from so many different businesses in the #518 to get together? And while some are serious runners, others came, and still come, to simply cover the distance with their colleagues.
Now known as the CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge, it’s the largest running event in the Capital Region. Organized by the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club, it’s a major fundraiser for the organization. In addition, every year the HMRRC, along with CDPHP, pick a charity or charities to donate to. This year that charity is the Rotterdam Community Center.
This type of race- the corporate challenge - got started back in 1977. As I mentioned, it was sponsored by Manufacturers Hanover. That first race took place in Central Park with 200 runners. The aim was to serve as a catalyst between work and wellness and afford companies the opportunity to bond over the shared experience. It was billed as part fitness, friendly competition, food and fun. In short, one part run, one part party. From walkers to runners, entry-level workers to seasoned employees, start-ups to large corporations – everyone is welcome. It worked. Eventually Manufacturers Hanover was merged with two other banks, Chase and J.P. Morgan, and so the name changed.
Albany left the banking connection behind in 2002 when the name changed to the GHI (Group Health Incorporated) Workforce Team Challenge. It became the CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge in 2010. Call it what you want; it’s a great time bringing the city together.
Why 3.5 miles and not a more traditional 3.1, or 5k? Turns out 3.5 miles is the exact distance covered by running 2 laps of Central Park’s southern loop, the site of the inaugural race. And the distance was and is distinctive. Back in the late 1970s running was growing in popularity and the distance was seen as a way to differentiate it from other races. Clearly, it worked. All of it worked.
Whatever the history, each race brings another opportunity to connect with colleagues and set new records. Happily, this year, I’ll be back on the course this year as a proud member of the Capital Cardiology Associates team. And I’m very happy the course has changed through the years and we don’t have to tackle that monster hill in Lincoln Park!!
About Dr. Benita Zahn
Benita is a certified Health and Wellness Coach working with clients at Capital Cardiology Associates. Benita spent more than 40 years as a health reporter and news anchor at WNYT in Albany, NY. She covered issues such as wellness, treatment breakthroughs, aging, nutrition, and the latest health care trends. Benita’s work has taken her around the world and across the USA. Benita is a contributor to the weekly “Live Smart” page in the Times Union, the HMRRC Pacesetter and the new magazine 55+LIVING. She also created and co-hosts the podcast EVERYTHING THEATER.