CIGNA HealthCare Corporate 5K Road Race—Celebration of Fitness at One of New England’s Gems
This is the 5K everyone talks about all year, the event for employees and individuals of all abilities. It is a celebration of corporate pride and fitness, including first-time walkers and world-class stars.
Posted Monday, 13 June, 2005
This is the race for everyone. The CIGNA HealthCare Corporate 5K is a giant morale booster and an evening out for employees of all companies. And it is a superior race for individuals. Every company in New England can take part, whether their team has experienced runners or first-time walkers. It is a celebration of company pride, and commitment to employees’ enjoyment and fitness. Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 11, running in Manchester, New Hampshire. It will be one of the biggest and best races in New England for the thirteenth consecutive year. What a terrific tradition!
Companies and agencies, small and large, will have the opportunity to show the company logo and colors. It is truly for all companies, those with a few employees, and those with thousands. Only five individuals are needed to score. Unattached individual runners are also a big part of the party, led by world-class international elite women and men, along with regional stars.
The CIGNA 5K is the ideal event for first-time beginners, and what an awesome memory they will have of their first race—running with some of the best athletes in the world on the same course at the same time! And every individual, from the winners to number 6,000 across the line, will get a precise finishing time to reinforce that experience.
From the very beginning in 1993, the CIGNA (formerly Healthsource) Corporate 5K has been special, not just because of its size, but because of its tremendous organization and attention to detail. The outstanding organization, in turn, has brought many elite international stars to Manchester. The race will blast off on wide-open Elm Street in downtown with New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV Channel 9 cameras taking it in live at 6:20 p.m.
Pre and post race activities will be held at Veterans Park, only a few blocks from the start and immediately adjacent to the finish on Merrimack Street. Veterans Park is opposite the Center of New Hampshire on Elm, one block north of the Elm Street/Granite Street intersection and the Verizon Center. It will be a party atmosphere, before, during, and long after the race. The post-race party will take place at Jillian's located at the corner of Granite and Commercial Streets in Manchester's Mill Yard district.
What a great course, and the record times prove it. With the wide Elm Street start line and wave start, it will not seem crowded despite thousands in the field. Net time begins when runners cross the starting line mat.
Runners will head north on Elm Street (from the intersection of Amherst Street) to a left on Thayer, then south on River Road and Canal Street; then they will turn left to the finish on Merrimack Street—only three turns. Times for every participant will be automatically recorded by Granite State Race Services using the ChampionChip System. Each runner will wear a coded computer “chip” and have their exact time registered for posterity. This is not just a fun run—every individual and every company team will have their finishing time (gun time, net time, and age adjusted time) posted on the Cool Running Website, available to the world.
Speaking of records, a new course standard for women or men will net an athlete $1,000. A record breaking non-winning performance will garner $500. Kenyan distance star Joseph Mwai set the men’s record and made history in 2003 as he blasted through the 11th annual CIGNA 5K in 13:54.73. It was not only a course record, but also an all-time New Hampshire record—the first ever under 14 minutes.
Marie Davenport of Guilford, Connecticut set a new standard in last year’s race as she blasted to 15:38.37. Her performance broke the mark of Kenyon star Emily Samoei (15:48.18), set only one year earlier. Davenport ran the second fastest women’s 5K ever recorded in New Hampshire. Olympic Bronze Medallist Lynn Jennings sped to 15:28 at Bud Light Couples in Concord, 1993.
Cash Awards and Airline Tickets
The overall women’s and men’s winners will receive a $600 check, with $500 for second, $400 for third, $300 fourth, and $200 fifth. Female and male age-graded masters winners will win round trip tickets on Southwest Airlines. Another incentive is available--$250 to any woman who zips in under 17:20 or man who breaks 14:50. There were 16 such performances in 2004. The first woman and man from New Hampshire will receive $100.
Record performances--course, national, and state--will be based on official race (gun) time, as will all cash awards. All other individual and team awards will be based on Championchip net time.
There are 30 age group divisions, and awards will go three deep for medals. Age groups are set in five-year increments, with divisions for under 15, 15-19, then every five years through 80+. The largest of the 15 divisions for women last year was 40-44, followed closely by 35-39 and 45-49. The men’s 35-39 division was largest overall, slightly exceeding 40-45. Women 15 to 34 outnumbered men significantly in the same age groups, although the overall split was nearly even.
There are three divisions for team awards: Coed, female, and male—all age graded. And there are divisions based on company size for the Corporate Cup Awards--prizes awarded for numbers of participants and for highest percentage of company participation. Corporate Cup awards are based on small (5-15), medium (16-99), and large (100+ employees). All team awards are given to the top three in each category.
Every finisher will receive a commemorative prize, a CIGNA HealthCare Corporate 5K tradition. Proceeds from the race will support childhood obesity awareness efforts and education initiatives in New Hampshire.
Company and agency teams—that is the name of the game in this one. There are no club or school teams, or teams from any other designation. Women on company team rosters will automatically score on their company’s women’s team, and men automatically score on men’s teams. Co-ed teams must be designated; there is no limit on the number so named. However, those designated for co-ed teams will not score on other teams. For men and women’s teams, the top five score. In co-ed the first two women and the first two men, along with the next fastest runner designated for the co-ed team, will be the scorers. This will be sorted out instantly, along with the age grading. Technology has really come to road racing.
Corporate teams score by total time (five top runners combined times), not by cross-country rules (finishing position). All team scores are based on individual age-graded performance tables. There were 220 corporate teams last year. However, this event is about much more than team score—being there is winning!
Excitement In 2004
Davenport ran an outstanding race last year, and was never really challenged. She was followed by a group of international stars, including Atalelech Ketema in second at 16:16. Former (2001) winner Tatyana Pozdnyakova, who trains in Gainesville, Florida, flew to third in 16:29, the fastest time of any of 556 runners in the 45-49 division, male or female. She was also third in 2002 and fifth in 2003. She and Mike O’Brien of Durham, New Hampshire, were the age graded masters winners of Southwest Airline tickets.
Agnes Ngunjiri (16:46) and Orla O’Mahoney (16:50) finished fourth and fifth. Julie Spolidoro of Brighton, Massachusetts (17:15), who went on to win the Applefest Half Marathon in nearby Hollis last October, finished eighth overall.
John Korir won the 2004 men’s race in 14:07, with countryman Nicholas Kurgat second (14:12). Matt Downin, formerly of the local area and now training in New Jersey, was third and first American in 14:26. Mwai was fourth (14:33), and Boston College Coach John Mortimer, now of Goffstown, New Hampshire, sped to fifth (14:34). Mortimer and Mary Proulx of Ashland—9th overall in 17:19—were the first New Hampshire finishers.
This race will be the place to be for companies from throughout the region. Companies that participate in the CIGNA HealthCare Corporate Road Race can definitely undergo major changes in employee morale and attitudes toward fitness and health. Corporations can use the power of running and fitness to change and improve corporate culture, employee morale, employee loyalty, employee health/fitness, and attendance.
It sounds terrific and powerful, and it is. Companies who are supportive of fitness programs—especially running—are definitely healthier and more productive. Business leaders now realize that their company, and their employees individually, can greatly benefit from fitness. This race can be the catalyst and the cornerstone.
Many employees look forward to this annual happening, and make it a party. Company pride and camaraderie take on new meaning when employees participate as a group—it is invaluable. Managers at all levels and team captains will use this corporate race as a cornerstone for fitness programs year-round. This event can be more effective than seminars and much more cost efficient than team building programs.
All team participants will receive colorful, well-made T-shirts with the company logo. Many companies also buy employees’ running singlets and shorts; a few add wind suits. It’s a great investment, allowing each group to show the company colors. Many have a banner made; then take a team photo on race night to hang in the company fitness center or lobby. Everyone can do a 5K—walk or run--and the sense of teamwork and pride seems so simple, and yet is so tremendously effective.
For Example, BAE Systems Has It Right
Employees of BAE Systems of Nashua, Merrimack, and Hudson, New Hampshire, will be participating in their 13th consecutive CIGNA HealthCare 5K race. Led by team captain Liane Pancoast, they had a banner year in 2004, winning the Co-ed team division, and finishing second in the women’s competition. The men’s team finished eighth out of 100. Additionally, they won the Large Company Corporate Cup participation award for the third consecutive year. They will be prominent again this year at Veterans Park.
“We start early to remind everyone, and they all really look forward to it. It is a lot of effort, but we really have fun with it,” said Captain Pancoast.
“We have people that run a little, and this is the only competitive race they do all year. We have had quite a few people do this and really get into it. Some have begun as walkers, then found they liked running,” she said.
“I enjoy organizing it because we really have a great time. The company pays the entry fees, and has also helped to purchase singlets,” continued Pancoast, who was second to Pozdnyakova in the 45-49 division, and sixth overall in the age graded rankings last year.
And of course, the BAE teams have other excellent runners in several age divisions, and a running team tradition that goes back many years. Other companies would do well to follow their example.
Corporate and Running Communities Coming Together
This race is a celebration of running and fitness, and a unique opportunity for a company outing. Individuals are encouraged to participate, and are eligible for age group prizes, as are members of corporate teams. What a deal! It’s $15 through August 2, and $18 per person thereafter, including race day. Those signing up for company teams can save a few dollars (most companies pay anyway); it is only $12, and these prices include the shirt. Number, chip, and T-shirt pickup will be available from noon to 6:00 p.m. on race day at Veteran’s Park, or from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, August 10, at Logo Loc, 540 Commercial Street, Manchester.
There will be corporate banners everywhere in Veteran’s Park where registration and post race festivities will be held, along with many post-race parties, including the "official" post-race celebration at Jillian's. Take advantage of this tremendous community resource, and show your colors. Join the fun. Enjoy the race and party.