Jason Price, a former All-American college sprinter, and his more than 100 rivals have a $100,000 incentive to run the fastest 400 meters in the four-year history of the Wall Street Decathlon.
Scott Stuart, the co-founder of Sageview Capital LP, will donate that amount to New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center if the record of 54.63 seconds for the event is broken on July 29 at Columbia University in New York.
“It got me motivated to get back in that close-to-race shape,” said Price, a 24-year-old prime brokerage sales analyst for JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) who competed for the University of Southern California’s track and field team from 2006 to 2010 and was a captain as a junior and senior.
Finance executives have promised donations of more than $25,000 each if traders, bankers and advisers competing for the unofficial title of Wall Street’s best all-around athlete can beat certain records or reach preset benchmarks in the 10- discipline competition.
Price was a two-time All-American as part of USC’s 1,600- meter relay team. His record for 400 meters is under 50 seconds and he still runs regularly.
Price, who lives in the financial district in Manhattan, said he trains in Central Park and on paths along the West Side Highway in addition to doing occasional track workouts.
“I’m confident I can beat the record, but I don’t necessarily want to put a time on it,” Price said in a telephone interview. “I do stay in pretty good shape and one of my passions is running and competing. This gives me a chance to help people and to further my passion.”
Others aiming for the 400-meter record set by Adam Shada of Goldman Sachs (GS:US) Group Inc., a former cornerback for the University of Iowa’s football team, include former Princeton University 400-meter runner Jim Murphy of Swap Financial Group LLC and two- time University of Florida track All-American Steve Zieminski of RBC Capital Markets.
Stuart, whose Sageview associate Kyle Peterson won the first Wall Street Decathlon in 2009, has the biggest of the so- called charity bets at this year’s event. If the record in the 400 meters doesn’t fall, he’ll donate $50,000 to the cancer center.
“I’m going to be happy to give $100,000,” Stuart said in a phone interview from his office in Greenwich, Connecticut. “The odds are high that they’ll blow through the record, which is great. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a great strategy and a great cause.”
Mark Standish, the co-chief executive officer of event title sponsor RBC Capital Markets, has placed charity bets that collectively top $25,000.
He’s wagering all of Wall Street that RBC wins the title in the new team competition, in which three participants per company split up the 10 events. Standish will make an additional donation if the 800-meter record of 2 minutes, 14 seconds falls.
RBC and its employees who are taking part in the decathlon have collected $316,225 in charitable pledges. Goldman Sachs is second, with $76,468 in promised donations, followed by Knight Capital Group Inc. at $25,973, according to the event website. To date, pledges totaling $1.06 million have been received.
Peter Weinberg, the founding partner of Perella Weinberg Partners, is also among donors who have made performance-based pledges in excess of $25,000.
Anyone can place their own charity bet for any amount. At the decathlon’s website, donors can lay bets for charity on whether Justin Nunez, who is at PAMLI Capital Management LLC after leaving Goldman Sachs, will repeat as overall champion, or if anyone can beat 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Brian Kuritzky of Goldman Sachs, a former Cornell University soccer player, received a $10,000 charity bet that pays off if he can run the 800 meters in under 2:14.
Decathlon co-organizer Dave Maloney said 100 percent of all donations go to the cancer center, with a goal of $1.5 million, about three times the amount raised in 2011.
“You might not have a connection to an athlete, but you may be interested in a certain event and the cause, and this is another impetus for you to donate,” Maloney said by telephone.
The 40-yard dash and 400 and 800 meters are where similarities to the decathlon at the London Olympics end.
Pull-ups, a football throw, an agility drill, rowing, a vertical jump, bench press and dips -- a triceps exercise using one’s own weight -- make up the remainder of the one-day contest.
Awards are presented to the top three finishers as well as the top executive performer, the winners in three age groups (under 30, 30-39 and over 40), the top fundraiser and the top team.
“On Wall Street, you have a lot of very competitive men and women,” Sageview’s Stuart said. “The idea that they can compete in an event like this and also know that they’re raising some significant money for pediatric cancer, that just seems like a great idea all the way around.”
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