Mark Rubin decided to pursue a second passion after a brief stint in the National Football League and is now in his second year selling fixed income futures at Barclays Plc. He’s also Wall Street’s best athlete.
Rubin, 26, claimed the title yesterday by winning the fourth annual Wall Street Decathlon, a charity event that raised more than $1.2 million for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Rubin finished atop a field of more than 120 traders, bankers and financial advisers in the 10-event competition at Columbia University’s Wien Stadium on the northern tip of Manhattan.
“Everybody in this field loves to compete, whether it’s Monopoly, sports or business,” Rubin, who had signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2009 as an undrafted free agent, said in an interview. “It’s a great cause, so you just go out, compete and have a great time with it.”
Clinton Biondo of Fir Tree Partners was the runner-up, followed by Jay Li of Hylas Capital, 2011 champion Justin Nunez of PAMLI Capital Management and Brian Zakrocki of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Rubin finished with 7,227 points in his debut at the RBC Decathlon, 10 points more than Biondo. He trailed the 32-year-old Biondo by 103 points entering the final event, the 800-meter run, and finished almost nine seconds ahead of Biondo in a time of 2 minutes, 22 seconds to take the title.
“With the point system, you really can’t have an off event,” Rubin said. “So it’s really trying to be consistent, giving your all for each event. I was dreading the 800. At that time, it just all comes down to heart and gritting it out.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Rubin started 24 games at safety while at Penn State University, where he was a first-team Academic All-American. He practiced with the Rams in 2009 before getting waived in Week 1 of the NFL season. After tryouts with the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings failed to yield an NFL roster spot, he returned to business school at Penn State and joined Barclays in 2010.
“I was fortunate to get the opportunity,” Rubin said of his NFL experience. “It was getting to the point where I had to defer my second year of business school or keep working out and training. There were always other careers and other paths which I wanted to pursue.”
The RBC Decathlon featured runs at three distances -- 40 yards, 400 meters and 800 meters. That was the extent of its similarity to the decathlon competition that will be held at the London Olympics next month. Pull-ups, a football throw, an agility drill, rowing, vertical jump, bench press and dips -- a triceps exercise using one’s own weight -- also were part of the one-day contest.
Biondo won the 30-39 age division and the top executive title, while 42-year-old Mark Spina, an executive vice president at ING Investment Management, was the top finisher in the over-40 group.
“I was physically beat when the last event rolled around,” Biondo said. “That said, I was pretty happy with most of my other times and reps, so can’t complain.”
Jason Price, a former All-American sprinter at the University of Southern California, triggered a $100,000 donation by running the 400 meters in an event-record 51.08 seconds. Scott Stuart, the co-founder of Sageview Capital LP, had pledged to donate that amount if a competitor broke the former decathlon record of 54.63 seconds.
Price, a prime brokerage sales analyst for JPMorgan Chase & Co., fought through a strained right hamstring muscle.
$100,000 to Charity
“You get in the moment and you forget about the injury,” Price, 24, said in an interview alongside the track that rings the football field in Wien Stadium. “I hadn’t run all week, but it’s great to be able to deliver that $100,000.”
Stuart’s donation was the biggest of the Decathlon’s so-called charity bets that helped organizers more than double last year’s donations, with 100 percent of the contributions going to pediatric cancer research.
Brian Kuritzky, a 25-year-old security analyst at Goldman Sachs and a former Cornell University soccer player, was the top individual fundraiser with over $90,000 in pledges. He delivered on a $10,000 charity bet by running the 800 meters in under 2:14, finishing in the third-best time of 2:10.9.
“There are so many people on Wall Street -- Goldman and other places -- that really want a reason to donate,” said Kuritzky, who also helped raise $100,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in February by running to the top of the Empire State Building in New York.
RBC Capital Markets, the event’s title sponsor, was the top fundraising firm, with more than $381,000 in donations. Goldman Sachs was second with more than $130,000.
Marc Hodulich, a co-founder of the Decathlon, said having firms become more involved will help grow the event.
“Every year coming to this point we knew people on Wall Street were generous,” Hodulich said in an interview after the trophy presentation ceremony. “But the level of competitors and their commitment to fundraising and the firms supporting them, we just started to scratch the tip of the iceberg.”