November 9, 2010

After Triathlon, Kuritzky ’08 Raises $250,000 for Breast Cancer Research

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With no prior training and after only agreeing to the event three weeks in advance, securities analyst Brian Kuritzky ’08 raised $250,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization upon completing the Great Floridian Triathlon on Oct. 23.

Since completing the triathlon, Kuritzky has received coverage from CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous blogs.

The challenge started with a bet Kuritzky made with a few of his coworkers at Goldman Sachs — for every minute Kuritzky finished the race over 16 hours, he’d pay his coworkers a dollar each. For every minute he finished the race under 16 hours, they would donate a dollar each to the Komen organization. As word of the challenge spread, it wasn’t long before Kuritzky’s preparation for the 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike race and 26.2-mile marathon grew into a massive fundraising effort. By the time of the day of the race, he said he had convinced roughly 125 friends and family to sponsor him for a total of $25,000, with Goldman Sachs matching that donation.

It was after he completed the race that the donations began to come more rapidly and in larger amounts, according to Kuritzky. Word quickly spread to other friends and family, whose contributions eventually ballooned the overall donation to $75,000 by Oct. 26, according to Since then, further donations from companies and people who have heard about his cause have ballooned the fund to a $250,000. According to Kuritzky, donations are still coming in.

While the former Big Red varsity soccer player has a long history of athleticism –– playing for professional clubs in Europe after graduating from Cornell and training three to four times a week with the New York Athletic Club –– Kuritzky said he had never biked for more than half an hour at a time, nor swam competitively prior to the triathlon. Staying true to his word, however, Kuritzky steered away from intensive physical training and in the three weeks before the triathlon, raced to mentally prepare himself for the event.

“I tried to read as much as I possibly could about it, speak to as many people as I could … and ask them what things they’d say were absolutely necessary to know before getting in,” said Kuritzky. “I tried to visualize what it would be like to physically be in the water with 300 other people there, tried to imagine myself on the bike being completely exhausted, [and] tried to imagine dragging myself across the finish line.”

When Kuritzky finally competed on the day of the race, he says the palms of his hands “swell[ed] up to the size of golf balls” as he endured conditions he said made athletes who had trained for 10 months drop out. However, Kuritzky ended up finishing in 15 hours and 30 minutes, a solid half hour under his goal. Kuritzky also placed in the top five for the 20 to 24 age group, one of the most competitive age brackets in the 260-person race.

“I just had that stubbornness in my mind,” he said. “Even though I was in immense physical pain and even more mental pain than I’d ever been in my entire life, I said to myself: I don’t care if I need to doggy paddle myself through the swim. I don’t care if I need to walk the bike; I don’t care if I need to crawl over the finish line. There was no alternative to not finishing.”

To Kuritzky, whose mother died of breast cancer when he was 15, the race was about more than proving physical endurance; he also had the chance to honor his mother’s memory.

“I wanted to show that mental fortitude can prevail over a physical task, and do it for a cause that impacts hundreds of thousands of people out there directly or indirectly,” Kuritzky said. “It was also a tribute –– a way for me to connect to my mother.”

Kuritzky added that while he doesn’t know if he’ll attempt an event “as extreme as an [Ironman-length triathlon] without training” again, he hopes to inspire people to affect change in a positive way.

“It really does make a difference to people who think of things as impossible tasks,” he added. “I hope people say, ‘I’m going to donate, I’m going to do a 5k, [or] I’m going to study for the MCATs.’ Whatever people think, look at this and say if you set your mind to it, it’s truly possible.”

Original Author: Akane Otani