25 June 2012
A team captain, two photographers, 28 runners, and the motto "The Gutenberg Spirit: Moving Minds – Crossing Boundaries" – this is how JGU presented itself at this year's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge event in Frankfurt am Main.
Together with almost 70,000 other runners, the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) team ran the 5.6 kilometer race on June 14 and finished with a proud overall time of 16 hours, 54 minutes and 48 seconds. The fastest in the Mainz team were Helmut Steudten at 27 minutes and 25 seconds for the men and Petra Skalecki at 29 minutes and 48 seconds for the women. But speed is not the issue in this race. "We are doing this for the shared experience, for the team work, for the chance to communicate – it was all about the 'Spirit'," Chancellor Götz Scholz, who was also a runner in the team, said when explaining why they had taken part in the event. And he goes on: "The JGU team has proven it has this 'Spirit'."
In keeping with the JGU motto "Moving Minds – Crossing Boundaries", some participants came in at the last minute for sick colleagues and really tested their limits by taking on the athletic challenge with no prior training. Others did serious preparation: For several weeks they met every Monday in the late afternoon to take a training run around the Coface Arena in Mainz. "The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge is a great event because you do something together with your co-workers, while getting exercise at the same time," team captain Jürgen Klenner, who was responsible for the organization, the team uniform, and transport, says with enthusiasm.
On the day of the race a convoy of four buses started out at 4:00 p.m. from the JGU campus and headed to the city on the Main river. The Goethe University Frankfurt invited the 28 runners from JGU to use their facilities to change into their running gear before they headed out on foot to the starting line at 6:00 p.m.. 70,000 runners competed and spread over two starting lines, which means there was plenty of close bodily contact – not an ideal scenario for those with claustrophobia. But the atmosphere amongst the runners was pleasant, almost relaxed even if here and there a foot got trod on.
Crossing the starting line where timekeeping begins can take up to an hour or more when so many people are taking part. But the JGU team was well positioned and could get over the starting line relatively quickly at 7:30 p.m.. Cheered on by the spectators and motivated by music and the placards held up, the runners soon found their pace and finished the 5.6 kilometer course in small groups or on their own. At the finish, the team captain anxiously awaited the reports and the times.
The weather was also perfect. Blue skies and pleasant temperatures meant the conditions were just right for the sporting event. And the barbecue at the Frankfurt University campus which followed was perfect, too. And so the evening ended with pleasant conversation, good food, and the occasional isotonic drink. Around midnight, the team buses got back to Mainz and it has already been decided that the JGU team will do it again next year. But what they wish for is a bigger fan club for street-side support for the J.P. Morgan Run in 2013.