2019 Workforce Challenge Race Recap

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 two years ago. We didn’t actually have enough runners for our own team so we partnered with UAlbany. I ran it with this team last year, as well.

I enjoyed it and it was a good way to get to know others where I work

Anyway I remembered the course from 7 years ago and 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.

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 bar 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 a little warm (70) but at least we had a day without rain. I had woken up that morning with a headache and stiff neck. My neck was still stiff but not enough to prevent me from running a race.

My team was very organized. Again this year, they had set up a tent with water and refreshments.  I walked around for a while searching for the tent but finally located it (in a place not far from where it was the year before.)

I had already picked up my team tee and bib during lunch at UAlbany.

But I wore the shirt from two years ago but only put on this year’s team tee for a pre-race photo. It was too big again this year (Unisex!!)

I think I missed the photo but it was pretty much the same cast of characters as last year plus or minus a few.

While waiting for the race to start, I chatted with those that I knew from work. We chatted about running, of course and made plans to go out after the race.

We eventually headed to the start. With a cap of 10,000 runners every year, this year, they decided to add corrals.  I was in the second corral (LIME green). We pushed our way in (as predicted many ignored their correct corral) and moved up as far we could.

And then just waited in the crowd.

Two years ago, Sawyer Fredericks (winner of The Voice and a local) sang the National Anthem. This year, it was an unknown local.

Eventually, the race started.

Of course, it took awhile before we even moved.


last year’s start

The biggest problem with this race was that unless you were in the front and very fast, it was impossible to gain any speed.  Even with the corrals, I was playing bumper cars the whole race. It seemed even more crowded this year even without the walkers in front of me. So middle of the packers, like me, just weaved in and out, bumped into people saying “excuse me” though out the entire race.

My neck was stiff and the sun in eyes.  I was too warm. Plus so many cracks in the pavements to watch out for (In fact one of my co-workers fell during the 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 I ran much of race with a running friend (until I lost her), listened to music and soaked up everyone’s excitement.

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 I didn’t walk.

There was a water stop that you passed twice.  I ran until the first stop and then I walked.  I walked again at the 2nd water stop. I walked one more time at the mile 3 sign.

Because I started out so slow and never ran fast, I never felt tired or out of breath.  A new concept for me.

Warm? YES!!


photo from last year

Eventually, you headed toward that downhill finish.  I was tempted to go into an all out sprint but it was a steep downhill so I had to hold back.

Runners make their way down Madison Ave. during the 2019 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge at the Empire State Plaza on Thursday, May 16, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

photo from TU

When I saw the clock in the distance, I picked up the pace so that I could finish under 33 minutes.

And I did (chip time).

Then I slowly made my way back through the crowd to the tent and my co-workers. This year again, 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.

not speedy but a course PR.

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 my stiff neck was even more painful than before the race 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 chatting with co-workers and meeting new runners.  Getting in my last run before my half marathon was just gravy.

Race Splits:

mile 1: 9:39
mile 2: 9:31
mile 3: 9:16
.5: 8:16

Negative splits – Woo Hoo!! Course PR and a 3.5 PR (well I don’t run many of these.)

No age group awards given but I would have placed 2nd.

I am glad to have participated in this race. It is run by a local running club and they seemed to try to improve the race each year. This year, for example,

  • They added corrals in the start area to separate participants by their predicted times. Participants were issued a bib of the color of the corral where they will be expected to start.
  • Capital Cardiology Associates offered blood pressure tests at their tent prior to the race and post-race.
  • Albany Massage Professionals offered massages both before and after the race.
  • There were five bands performing for the race participants.

I definitely plan to run it again next year.

It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:  Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

I’m linking also up with Coaches Corner–Debbie and Marc.

Happy Running! Ever participate in a team race? 

18 thoughts on “2019 Workforce Challenge Race Recap

  1. 10,000 people is a lot of 3.5 miles! I’m surprised that they didn’t have corrals until this year. That sounds like it would be a big improvement given the number of people. This seems like a great team building exercise for work 🙂


  2. Wow, that’s a ton of people for that race distance. It reminds me of the JP Corporate Challenge that takes place in Central Park every year.

    It’s great that you found the race to be improved from previous years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of people hate this race but I think that they look at it as a race instead of its purpose – get workers out of their office and MOVING.


  3. There is a big corporate challenge in Chicago every year–I think they just had it last week. I’ve never done it–I don’t know that any of the hospitals I’ve worked for participate. I think it’s a great idea and a fun way to promote team spirit and fitness! Congrats on that course PR.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is a huge race. What fun to be able to join a team from your work. It must be so great to get to know all of your team members!


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