There was a time when Judy Guzzo of Niskayuna thought, realistically, about winning the annual corporate challenge race in Albany, which has undergone several name changes over the years and will be the CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge again this year.
A victory for Guzzo today will be defined much differently.
If she can get all of 255 General Electric team members outfitted with bib numbers and T-shirts, that’s a win-win for everybody.
A project manager at the Research and Development Center and a mother of three, the 42-year-old Guzzo won the Corporate Challenge in 1997.
She’ll run again today, when the 32nd annual race kicks off at 6:25 p.m. That is, after she takes care of business, which is more time-consuming and extensive than most team captains.
“I just want to have a good race. I want everybody to get their race packet and have a good time,” Guzzo said.
Guzzo is actually a co-captain, with Willow Street Athletic Club teammate Aaron Knobloch, and they have about a half-dozen site coordinators helping them in various GE departments, like corporate, energy and R&D.
She has been running in the Team Challenge since 1990, and posted a sub-22:00 when she won it in 1997.
Despite scaling back on her training after having three kids, Robbie (9), Anna (7) and Olivia (5), with her husband, Peter, Guzzo is still capable of running under a 6:30-mile pace, as she did on May 9 to finish second in the Mother’s Day Race in Delmar with a time of 22:00 for 3 1⁄2 miles.
That could be good enough to get her in the top 5-10 or so today.
“I run when I can, at lunchtime and weekends,” she said. “It’s more of a stress relief now.”
Guzzo graduated from New Hartford High School, and ran cross country for SUNY-Plattsburgh.
She ran her first Team Challenge during a three-year stint at GE, then spent a few years earning her master’s degree in chemistry from Notre Dame.
When she came back, she won the Team Challenge during a busy race schedule that also typically included the Freihofer’s Run for Women, Utica Boilermaker and Gazette Stockade-athon.
After winning the Team Challenge in 1997, Guzzo was third in 1998 with a time of 21:34, and has been able to maintain a pretty consistent pace through the years, finishing third in 2001 to Emily Bryans with a time of 22:01, then running a 22:15 in 2006 to finish second behind Dana Peterson.
“I had been training for it, maybe 30-35 miles a week, with some track work and hills the year I won it,” she said. “A lot of it had to do with running with Emily Bryans and Willow Street about 10 years ago, so it was a very smooth transition back into running,” she said. “I ran with a lot of guys from work.”
GE, which always has strong participation for the Team Challenge, will field a team that’s about twice as big as it was last year, so Guzzo and Knobloch have really relied on their site coordinators to keep things organized.
“GE is really into health, to facilitate it and encourage their employees to live healthy lives,” Guzzo said.
“I thought a lot about this. We’ll have the envelopes pre-stuffed with race numbers and also the T-shirts. We’ll get there early. and we’ve got a bunch of volunteers to help distribute everything, because we’re spread out over so many different locations.”
Once the team members are organized, Guzzo can start thinking about pre-race warmup.
Because she doesn’t train as much as she used to and will be burdened with helping to run the show, she has no specific expectations for her own finishing time.
“I want to run my best,” she said. “I want to have a good race, that’s all.”
The CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge drew 7,715 runners and 434 participating companies and organizations in the 2009 race, a record turnout.The defending men’s champion, Ben Englehardt of Fortitech, a student at Arizona State University, is spending the summer in Tempe, Ariz., and will not be running today.
The defending women’s champion is Tonya Dodge.