Runners Prep For Wall Street Mile, RBC Decathlon

Jul 12 2013 | 12:42pm ET

Wall Streeters are known for being fast on their feet, but just how fast will be determined Saturday, July 27th, during the first annual running of the Wall Street Mile.

The event, a new addition to the RBC Decathlon, is a one-mile race on the Decathlon site—the track at Columbia's Wien Stadium. Organizer Dave Maloney told FINalternatives the race will be run in heats of 20 competitors, grouped by goal time (that is, how fast they think they can run a mile).

As with the Decathlon, the race is a fundraiser for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s pediatric cancer research—“just about as good a charitable cause as one can hope to find,” says runner Matthew Rossetti of BNP Paribas. “Racing to benefit MSK and further their positive impact on so many lives is how I justify taking time away from my family to train for this event.”

In preparing for the race, Rossetti, an experienced runner, says he has bowed to the “laws of specificity” which state that “to be a good runner you must, well, run.” The other component of his daily workout, however, is somewhat less orthodox: “I have been cross training my upper body by holding my six-month-old daughter. She seems to insist that we ‘cross train’ together at 4 am, which has made this particular training cycle rather challenging.”

Training is really a necessity because Rossetti will be up against other distinguished members of the New York running community, including John Trautmann of KGS-Alpha, a ’92 U.S. Olympian and someone Maloney describes as “one of the greatest American distance runners of all time.”

Once the competition for the fastest Wall Street Mile is over, all energies will be focused on the Decathlon itself, scheduled for the next day—Sunday, July 28th.

Created in 2009 by Maloney and Marc Hodulich, both former university track athletes, the Decathlon tests the mettle of financial industry participants in 10 events—a 400-meter run, an 800-meter run, a 40-yard dash, a football throw, pull-ups, dips, a 500-meter row, a vertical jump, a five-cone drill and a bench press.

As in past years, participants come from leading financial firms like SAC Capital, KKR, Fir Tree Partners, Fortress, ConvergEx and Visium Funds. In contrast to past years, however, some of the 2013 participants are women. Twelve women are registered as individual competitors and 12 are members of teams.

One of these women is Heather Ehrenkranz of RBC Capital Markets, who says her decision to participate was motivated, in part, by her status as a mother:

“My initial interest in the Decathlon was as a young parent who could not imagine the suffering that the families at MSK were experiencing,” Ehrenkranz told FINalternatives. “The opportunity to help was something that I could not ignore. That said, I was quite intimidated to be competing in a Decathlon. I just had my second child and wasn't feeling great about my athletic abilities. I have never competed in anything like this event. After a few co-workers encouraged me to participate, I was hooked! I wake up every morning and remind myself that our hard work could benefit a struggling child.”

Ehrenkranz says her marquee event is the bench press and her training regimen has involved working out at least five days a week, focusing on event training as well as overall conditioning. And she has already proven herself a force to contend with in the fundraising portion of the competition: at the time of writing, she was in second place in the individual standings, having raised $25,120.
“I am incredibly grateful to my friends and family for supporting me,” she says. “I have found that my dedication to training and preparation has motivated people to contribute. I am doing my absolute best to make sure that those who do donate know how hard I am trying to excel and feel like they are part of the greater cause to help suffering children.”

Competitors this year were offered some help with their training—in the form of yoga classes and special running shoes with metal springs built into the soles. They are also being offered the motivation of competing against an actual Olympic decathlon gold medal winner, Dan O'Brien, who will take part in this year's event.
O'Brien told ESPN he's confident he can hold his own in the pull-up and vertical jump competitions, but has some reservations about the 400 and 800 runs:

"Even as a former athlete, those are two events you don't want to do," he said. "Put me in a 5K or let me run a 40, but don't put me in the middle-distance races. To run a good 400 or a good 800, you have to train."

For more information about the 2013 RBC Decathlon, check out the competition's website.



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