A record crowd of 7,915 runners and walkers from 283 Central New York companies took part in the 30th edition of the Chase Corporate Challenge on Tuesday night.
After hosing off the Onondaga Lake Parkway in a last minute effort to lower the temperature on the course, race officials finally decided to take the competition out of the race.
Normally it is a competitive 3.5-mile road race, but for the first time it was shortened to a 2-mile, untimed "fun run" because of the heat and humidity. In 2006, the event was cancelled due to excessive heat.
Many of the runners had started drinking extra water long before the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge started on Thursday. The Corporate Challenge brings out a lot of casual joggers - and they wanted to be as prepared as possible for the heat.
"It's humid with the heat index but I think if you just go at a good pace for you, Keep your water, keep hydrated, you'll be fine," said Cindy Marchand as she prepared to run the race.
Many experienced runners wanted the chance to test themselves against Central New York's elite runners and were disappointed in the shorter route. Some of them only learned the race had been shortened while they were running it.
After the race, David Raves said he wished the organizers had given runners the option of stopping at two miles or doing the full run.
"If someone wanted to get out at two, you go at two but keep it at three and a half. That would have been a lot better," said Raves.
The cool mist from a fire truck was welcome relief for finishers. Plenty of water was also available to help re-hydrate tired muscles . Some people ran, some walked but teammates, friends and family stayed to cheer on everyone at the finish line.
"It's tremendous to see in the hot hot weather all of the people that have come out. Our chefs are cooking for them when they're done. It's just great to have the support of all the people we have," said Ann Marie Littleboy from the Wegmans team.
Race organizers had also recommended that those who weren't ready to run in the heat should stay back in the tents near the Onondaga Lake Parkway.
The 10 largest companies in terms of participation numbers at this year's event were: Tops Friendly Markets (463), Wegmans (406), St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center (188), National Grid (167), Syracuse University (154), Onondaga County Dental Society (141), AXA Equitable (137), SRC, Inc. (135), Crouse Hospital (132), and SUNY Cortland (121)
The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Syracuse donates money to The American Red Cross.