Next Sunday, when Dave Mandelkern crosses the finish line after completing the New York City Triathlon, he will have accomplished his goal of completing 50 triathlons in all 50 states (and Washington, D.C.) before reaching the age of 50 (“50-by-50-by-50”).
Mandelkern ran his first triathlon in Pacific Grove in 2000 at the age of 41. His only prior competitive athletic endeavor was as a member of the Stanford sailing team. The 48-year-old Burlingame resident referred to himself as “a typical middle-aged, couch-potato Silicon Valley executive, until a couple of my employees invited me to participate in the Team in Training triathlon program.”
Two converging passions emerged as Mandelkern discovered a deep commitment to the physical-training regimen associated with triathlons and his desire to raise funds for the Team in Training mission: finding a cure for leukemia and lymphoma. Mandelkern’s priority is not to win the race — he is inspired by remaining physically fit while raising money for charity.
In 2003, after he visited Cuba to compete in the Havana Triathlon as well as deliver needed medical supplies, Mandelkern had become involved with two additional charitable organizations: Challenged Athletes Foundation and World T.E.A.M. Sports. Both are committed to raising funds for people with physical disabilities.
Mandelkern established the 50-by-50-by-50 goal to raise money for Team in Training, Challenged Athletes Foundation and World T.E.A.M. Sports. He is particularly committed to raising funds targeted toward providing disabled U.S. military veterans with opportunities to maximize their athletic options. His goal is to donate $50,000 each to these three charities “that support endurance athletic fundraising programs.” However, he has only raised half of his goal; corporate sponsors including Baxter Pharmaceuticals (his wife’s employer), Janus Funds and Nuveen Investments will match his efforts.
Triathletes must excel in swimming, biking and long-distance running. Mandelkern works out six days and nights each week with Team Sheeper in Menlo Park. During the day, he is the CEO of QuickHealth, a “retail health care store,” which he founded in 2005. He fits it all in by sleeping just five hours a night. Without his team, Mandelkern doubts that he would be where he is today.
“Waking up on a winter morning when it’s cold, [you think] ‘I don’t want to run 17 miles today. There will be people waiting for me … if I don’t show up they’ll be [upset].’”
Dave’s wife, Terilyn Hanko, has accompanied him to many of the 49 states. She, along with 12 of his teammates, will be at the finish line next week in Central Park. Her only request is that his next athletic goal, which is currently under negotiation, be one in which they both participate. They are considering ballroom dancing.
Triathlete, 50-by-50- by-50 originator
EDUCATION: Stanford, bachelors and masters of science in electrical engineering
OCCUPATION: Founder-CEO-president, QuickHealth, a health care chain store with 16 locations
CIVIC DUTY: San Mateo County Community College District trustee, California State Parks Foundation vice chairman
BEST TRIATHLON FINISH: Third in age group at Prairie Rose State Games in North Dakota, in 2005
BEST TIME: 2 hours, 58 minutes, 54 seconds (Olympic distance) at New Jersey Pine Barrens Triathlon in 2005