The CDPHP® Workforce Team Challenge is a 3.5-mile road race open to teams of employees from corporations, businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, not-for-profit corporations, and financial institutions. Participating companies, organizations, and agencies use the event as a platform to provide health and fitness opportunities in the workplace while promoting goodwill and camaraderie among their employees.
It takes place at the Empire State Plaza in Albany on a similar course to the old Freihofer course. It sells out early with a cap of 10,000 runners.
At my former job, I ran this race once (in 2011), the only year I convinced them to have a team. It was fun so I signed up to be part of a team at my new job last year. We didn’t actually have enough runners for our own team so we partnered with UAlbany.
Last year, it was 98 degrees and HUMID but I enjoyed it and it was a good way to get to know others where I work
Anyway as I remembered the course from 6 years ago, the course starts with a steep uphill and then flattens out. You run through the park which has rolling hills and then it ends with a steep downhill.
This year, the course was identical except reversed. You entered the park where you used to exit and vice versa.
It is actually more of a run than a race. With 10,000 participants and many walkers, you feel (at least I do) no pressure to do anything but finish.
Another issue is fueling. When and what do you eat for a race that starts at 6:25 pm?
So when I finished work at 4pm, I ate a scone and a banana and hoped that would be enough.
To avoid the crowds, I parked my car (where I used take yoga) and walked about 1.5 miles to the start.
The weather was better than last year – around 80 but still humid.
This year my team was more organized. They had a tent with water and refreshments and you got your bib and team tee there. I walked around for a while searching for the tent but finally located it.
I wore a purple tank because it was warm but added the purple team tee for a pre-race photo. But everyone else was racing in the team tee so I changed (even though it was too big, uncomfortable and too warm).
This year, the President of UAlbany came to the race, shook everyone’s hand and had registered to walk the race. Pretty impressive.
While waiting for the race to start, I chatted with those that I knew from work but met a runner who worked upstairs. She hadn’t run in awhile and said that she was worried about finishing. I volunteered to run with her. She said that she was slow. I thought that this was perfect. This way I wouldn’t try to race.
We eventually headed to the start.
With 10,000 runners and no corral system, the runners seemed to line up for miles. We just pushed my way into the middle and then gradually moved up.
And waited in the crowd.
Last year Sawyer Fredericks (winner of The Voice and a local) sang the National Anthem. This year, we were too far back to even hear it.
Eventually, the race started.
Of course, it took awhile before we even moved.
The biggest problem with this race was that unless you were in the front and very fast, it was impossible to gain any speed. There were walkers in the front who didn’t realize they shouldn’t be. Then there were those who ran and then just stopped to walk. The middle of the packers, like me, just weaved in and out, bumped into people saying “excuse me” though the entire race.
But then again except for a chosen group, it was not a “race.” It was just a way to get out of the office and get some exercise with their co-workers. Some businesses had 200-500 employees participating.
I think it’s a great thing. So I tried not to get annoyed or take it seriously. It helped that my new friend and I chatted the whole time.
Back to the race…
We started up a long uphill climb which flattened until we entered the park.
The course continued through the park with rolling hills – one or two being rather steep but we didn’t walk.
There was a water stop that you passed twice. We ran up until the first stop and then I walked. We walked again at the 2nd water stop.
Because we started out so slow and never ran fast, I never felt tired or out of breath. A new concept for me.
Eventually, you headed toward that downhill finish. I was tempted to sprint but I had run the whole race with my new friend and didn’t want to lose her.
When I saw the clock in the distance,, I said, let’s go and finish under 50 minutes.
And we did. She hugged me and said that she couldn’t have done it without me. I thanked her for the company. We made our way back to the tent and our co-workers. This year, they had a huge spread for us – cheese, crackers, humus, salsa, chips, marinated veggies, fresh fruit, etc.
I was very impressed by the race organization again this year. After you picked up water, you proceeded to a tent to get your time.
Then you continued on to get your race shirt, followed by another stop to a get bag with food. The lines moved very quickly. There were lots of volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly.
I bumped into many running friends and we chatted as we walked around the Empire State Plaza.
Eventually, I made my way back to my co-workers and we made plans to meet at a bar downtown for beer and wings.
I, however, had to make the long walk back to my car…and I had to pack for my race weekend in Brooklyn so I decided to go home.
Runners/walkers were still heading toward the finish line. Everyone looked happy and to be having a great time.
It made me smile but I quickened my step to get to my car since it was getting late.
The highlight of the evening was meeting new co-workers. Getting in my last run before my half marathon was just gravy.
So no race splits to report. No course PR. But I am glad to have participated in this race and I plan to run it again next year.
Happy Running! Ever participate in a team race? Ever run with a slower runner so that you won’t run fast?