Speed Traders Race for Autism Research on Wall Street Bike RideBy
Bats, NYSE, Two Sigma, XTX riders tackle Westchester hills
’The most hopeful thing we can do is invest in research’
Suited up in a white sweat-wicking jersey and compression shorts, Chris Marino steered into a rest stop near mile 44 of the trading industry’s annual fall bike ride for autism research. Colleagues and friends in matching apparel pulled up alongside him Saturday, some grousing about the punishing hills on the 62-mile course.
As the group refueled on Jif To Go peanut butter pouches, Gatorade, mini pretzels and Chewy bars, Marino, director of sales at GTT Communications Inc., flashed a conspiratorial grin.
“We tell people it’s flat to get them to come out here,” said Marino, a board member of the event, Wall Street Rides Far, who has two nephews and a godson on the spectrum.
Marino was among the more than 100 electronic traders, exchange representatives and their kin who took on the steep roads of Westchester County, New York, in the ride set against the first auburn and ocher leaves of fall.
Executives and employees from high-speed trading firms Hudson River Trading, Two Sigma and XTX Markets, as well as exchange operators Bats Global Markets, the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Inc. and IEX Group Inc. joined the event, which earned more than $270,000 for the Autism Science Foundation.
With one in 68 American children diagnosed with autism, “the most hopeful thing we can do is invest in research,” said Alison Singer, president and co-founder of the Autism Science Foundation, who manned the check-in tent and reviewed safety measures with riders. She also accepted an oversized check during the closing ceremony.
The fundraiser was started three years ago by CBOE Holdings Inc.’s Bats Global Markets executive vice president Bryan Harkins and Melissa Moo Harkins, founder of women’s triathlon apparel brand MooMotion. Two members of their own extended family have been been diagnosed with autism.
“We’ve seen how it impacts the broader family fabric, and having a normal parenting experience is not possible,” Harkins said. “Melissa and I thought to ourselves, how do we have an impact and not sit on our hands?”
Both are marathoners, seasoned cyclists and Ironman triathletes. The couple said their marriage vows at the finish line of the Lake Placid Ironman in 2010.
“We wanted to combine the things we love,” said Moo Harkins of the bike ride fundraiser, as her daughter eagerly awaited the arrival of the bouncy castle near the playground.
The ride was geared to serious cyclists and families alike with a trek up to Bedford, New York, over to Greenwich, Connecticut, and back, as well as three other paths including the “not-as-Far” 20-mile route around White Plains and Purchase. In the spirit of setting aside competition for the ride, no winners or best times are tracked.
Harkins flirted with sitting out this year’s ride to focus on participants and sponsors but instead couldn’t resist a spin around the 20-mile loop in his lime Bats jersey.
Michael Blaugrund, head of equities at the New York Stock Exchange, bought a bike for the race. Harkins had needled him just enough.
Competing exchanges NYSE and Bats are on the opposite side of some issues, including Bats’s proposal for an alternative way to carry out orders at the close, which would affect end-of-day stock trading in a challenge to rival NYSE.
“If I beat him, he agreed to pull the filing,” Blaugrund said, laughing.
Dave Lavalle, U.S. head of SPDR ETF Capital Markets at State Street Global Advisors, did the full 62-mile course last year and the 20-mile course this year to avoid overtraining the week before the Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon in Brooklyn.
Two rows of Harrison High School cheerleaders waved pom-poms as he pulled through the finish line and unclipped his helmet.
“I wanted to keep going,” he said.