A brief word on three-peats....In November 1988, as the Los Angeles Lakers entered the NBA regular season eyeing their third consecutive championship, Coach Pat Riley filed copyright on the term "three-peat." It was Lakers guard Byron Scott who had coined the term, so perhaps it was karma as well as hubris and entropy at work when the Lakers unraveled against the Detroit Pistons eight months later. Dynasty: interrupted...and Riley's dreams of cashing in on trademarked three-peat merchandise rudely swept aside.
Even if you're Michael Jordan, or Rafael Nadal at the French Open, three-peats require an almost supernatural supply of motivation. Hunger for a championship can redouble after a first success, because a title defense is different in kind than winning a title. With a target on your back, and your closest competitors watching your every move, a successful defense proves the first title was no fluke. It confers undeniability and a kind of permanence.
But additional defenses thereafter stop differing in kind, only in degree. The marginal return on victory becomes subtler. At the same time, the knowledge of what victory requires has become sharper. Banished is the exhilaration of discovery. Banished is the naivete of the imagined quest. What remains is the heavy knowledge of what sacrifices will be entailed, and that knowledge alone can dampen resolve.
D10 NYC athletes unleashed extraordinary resolve in 2019, drawing on motivations both personal and interpersonal to establish new standards of excellence. A new champion hoisted the Best Female Athlete trophy, while the Men's Individual and Team champions fended off impassioned challenges to complete their respective three-peats.
Hardware: Team Competition
Ian Hildebrand of Barclays and Xavier Russo of Bank of America fell shy of The D10 NYC Team title in their 2016 rookie campaign, because despite exceeding their initial fundraising goal by 80%, they did not max out the fundraising points that constitute 1/4 of a D10 Team's overall score. They finished a close second to a team from Goldman Sachs, which had locked down max fundraising points en route to a then-record total of $62,000 for Memorial Sloan Kettering.
In 2017, the "Bulls" won the elusive trophy and established their blueprint for D10 dominance: unrivaled fundraising and no weak links. In 2018, they repeated by a scoring margin equivalent to one Pull-Up. This time, they were the team on the positive side of the fundraising points, having raised $57K, and needing those fundraising points to fend off an incredible challenge from The Training Lab.
This year, the Bulls showed what commitment and deliberate practice can mean to an athlete. Ian turned in 33 Pull-Ups, a 50% gain on his 2016 total. Xavier tied the Bench Press record of 47, up from his 2016 total of 33. Coupled to a max-points fundraising total of $76,500, and joined with the outstanding performances of D10-rookie teammate John Robertson of J. Goldman, all three Bulls toed the starting line of the 800M with a few hundred points in hand. No fan of the 800, Xavier was the grumpy but game insurance policy, in case Ian or John cramped and could not finish. Even with his teammates across the line in 2:15 and 2:29, and victory secure, Xavier barreled home with a time thirteen seconds better than his previous best result in the event.
Everett Watson excelled in the 800M. Along with the 500M Row, it was a marquee event for him. As a member of the Bulls since their arrival in 2016, Everett quickly became an influential and cherished member of our New York community. The Bulls competed as three this year, because we lost Everett in March, and there is no replacing him. As we process Everett's momentous absence, we take every opportunity to celebrate his legacy, and his continued presence. We are grateful that Everett committed so much of the best parts of himself to The D10's mission and community these past few years, and we are honored to play a role in carrying his life forward.
With the permission of Everett's extraordinary family, we will now annually bestow the Everett Cole Watson Award on The D10 NYC MVP -- the athlete on the team side who best embodies The D10's pillars of cause, community, and competition. We are honored that Everett's parents, Ronn and Nola Watson, attended The D10 to support the Bulls, and were on hand to present Ian and Xavier with the inaugural award.
Hardware: Individual Competition
At The D10 NYC 2017, Thomas White of Moelis & Co. lifted the Individual trophy in his first-ever D10, and this year, Allie Harris accomplished the same feat, adding a page to the storied history of JPMorgan Chase competitors in our competition.
A decorated track athlete at Princeton, Allie shot to the top of the leaderboard by matching D10 records in the third and fourth events of the day -- Pull-Ups and the 40 Yard Dash. She never looked back, exceeding her performance goals in the Row and Broad Jump, and tying another D10 record in the Vertical Jump.
Thomas faced pressure all day from another former Princeton varsity standout -- last year's D10 NYC runner-up Ken Gunter of LiveRamp. Achieving one of the best all-around performances in D10 history, Ken shot out to an early lead with 64 yards in the Football Throw, and 38 hard-fought Pull-Ups. Soaring 9'6" in the Broad Jump, and shaving almost two seconds off last year's 500M Row to clock 1:18.1, he held a lead that nothing short of history would have overcome.
The champ responded. Thomas became the inaugural member of The D10's "40/40" Club, grabbing 875 points for a 40" Vertical, and 1000 more for 40 reps on the bench. Thomas secured his D10 NYC three-peat with a gutty 800M to round out the day. Year over year, Ken Gunter had halved the points differential; even more impressive, Ken more than doubled his D10 fundraising, joining the 10K Club with $13,700 raised for Memorial Sloan Kettering.
You want to talk about impressive? Coming into 2019, The D10 Team fundraising record stood at $66K, thanks to the head-turning efforts of D10 Houston 2018 champions SWEAT 1000 and their chief rainmaker, Meg Murphy of EnCap Investments. Eric Vishnevetsky of UBS saw an opportunity not just to raise the bar, but to change the whole conversation.
In evolutionary biology, the theory of "punctuated equilibria" describes rapid periods of transformation in between long periods of stability. Often, these periods of rapid change correspond to a massive environmental upheaval, or the sudden appearance of a mutation that furnishes the genetic equivalent of a "killer app." To be clear, raising tens of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research has always been an awe-inspiring display of commitment, tenacity and skill by D10 athletes. It takes nothing away from previous efforts to note that the Team fundraising record had remained within a fairly narrow range since the inception of the team competition.
Forming Team 100K FTK with friends Lance Dotzman, Brian Klapow and Bucky Aronoff, Eric Vishnevetsky set out to become a mutation. Let's talk season records, because The D10 operates within a competition season cycle. What if Roger Maris's Major League home run record had been broken because Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds or someone not abusing performance-enhancing drugs had hit 92 dingers? What if Pat Mahomes had thrown 83 touchdown passes last year, instead of 50? What if Megan Rapinoe finished the 2019 World Cup with 15 goals (as of this writing, she still might)? In ratio terms, this is the insanity of the goal Team 100K FTK assigned itself in 2019.
The mutation occurred. They hit the goal and exceeded it, re-inscribing the record at $110,625. We hope, as they do, that this achievement initiates a period of rapid transformation, and that the record does not stand for long.
An early indicator that punctuated equilibria may be at work: this year's D10 NYC Team runners-up, T3 Advisors--on the strength of some substantial performance-based pledges that cashed on Game Day--have already become the second D10 team to raise more than $90,000. Kudos to members Bo McNally, Rollins Stallworth, Dave Bergeron and Roy Hirshland. We commend them for making the journey to NYC, and look forward to seeing their defense this October of their D10 San Francisco Bay Area team title. Kudos also to last year's runners-up: The Training Lab team of Shelly Mady, Jenny Cheung, Daria Daspin and Sasha Lovrich raised just shy of $50K for Memorial Sloan Kettering.
On the Individual side, D10 NYC stalwart and perennial 10K Club member Chris Benson of GFI Group made a double resolution in 2019: that he would give his body a rest next year, and that he would go out with a bang. Boy howdy. With thousands on the line in his marquee event, the Bench Press, Chris powered past his goal and put up 35 reps, pushing his fundraising total to more than $36,000. Don't think he was sandbagging on that performance goal...his previous best in the event had been 31.
The 10K Club
We are so proud of our D10 community, and so thankful for the athletes who make the commitment year after year to train, and fundraise, and connect with our cause, and our beneficiary. It cannot be overstated: every single D10 NYC athlete who wears the jersey and takes the field has met a significant fundraising requirement for Memorial Sloan Kettering. A grand don't come for free. That's why we reserve a special distinction for every D10 athlete who takes it one level beyond, and raises $10,000 or more for pediatric cancer research.
Thank you to the members of The 10K Club, 2019.
The D10 NYC 2019 10K Club: Team Event
The D10 NYC 2019 10K Club: Individual Event
We would be remiss if we did not highlight a few athletes who, within the 10K Club, set the bar for achieved impact even higher, by raising $20,000 or more this year. Extra special thanks to Randy Giveans of Jefferies, Rob Licalzi of Barclays, Michael Bissmeyer of Exos Securities, Adam Meffert of New Mountain Capital, and Ricky Schwartz of Angel Oak Capital.
Here at D10 HQ, it's an article of faith that "every D10 athlete has a story." There is not a D10 athlete in the field whose journey to competition, however winding, and whose connection to our mission, however direct or indirect, does not inspire us and fortify us in our conviction that The D10 will grow and grow as a vehicle for purpose-driven athleticism. We are committed to enshrining the efforts of our athletes, in their own words, on our blog and in social media, and we invite every D10 athlete to stay in touch with us throughout the year. In amplifying your stories, we serve the greater purpose.
For now, we recognize a few more of 2019's most outstanding performances.
Competing for Team Tone House, and demolishing her performance goal in all 10 events, Bank of America Vice President Laura Zimmerman racked up 8500 athletic points out of a possible 10,000.
In her second D10, Taylor Short of Morgan Stanley and Team Capital Gainz put paid to performance benchmarks in Pull-Ups, 500M Row and Bench Press. Though competition records are only counted as official on the Individual side, Taylor's 1:30.0 Row and 61 reps on the Bench will shape the conversation for foreseeable future.
"He's not only the President...he's also a client." Powered by the positive energy of Super Coffee, KITU Life CEO Jim DeCicco broke The D10 record in the 400M, winning a head-to-head matchup with KITU Life Chief Revenue Officer--and brother--Jake DeCicco, and securing a top-three finish in the Men's Individual race.
If Morgan Stanley Vice President Michael Ortiz's running form seems practiced, that's because it is. Michael is in the process of mutating the Guinness World Record for most consecutive weeks logging a 100-mile ultramarathon. The perennial 10K Clubber jiggered his schedule and clocked an ultra the Wednesday preceding The D10, in order to be able to compete in the Individual competition on Sunday.
Holding it down, and up, for Team Undrafted, Katie Cirincione claimed the Best Fan Sign trophy Saturday, joining husband Joe and in-laws Steve and Guy in The D10 NYC annals.
The Best Fan Sign on Sunday went to James McMillian's squad. Representing longtime D10 training partner Tone House, James battled through a leg injury to complete all ten events Sunday. Team McMillian also made its mark in the inaugural Dash for the Future...
...which gives aspiring D10 athletes an opportunity to take the field.
Finally, because purpose-driven competition has neither a lower nor an upper bound, we recognize Richard Flaum, the President of LD Realty, who first competed in Houston two years ago, just months after undergoing major surgery. Richard traveled to NYC this year because he wanted to compete in what he calls "the Big Show."
Seventeen Pull-Ups is no easy feat at any age. At age 73, Richard did not make it look easy, while achieving it. He made it look worthwhile.
Thank you to every D10 athlete present and past whose efforts have established The D10 NYC as "The Big Show," where driven athletes of all ages from all parts of the country converge to unlock the best parts of themselves.
Here's to the future.