Look out golf, tech CEOs are adrenaline junkies

NEW YORK Fri May 23, 2008 4:16pm EDT

Competitors run past La Pedrera, designed by Gaudi, during the Barcelona Marathon in central Barcelona, March 2, 2008. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Competitors run past La Pedrera, designed by Gaudi, during the Barcelona Marathon in central Barcelona, March 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Golf and tennis not challenging enough? Some of today's hardest-charging technology executives are turning to 100-mile bike races, marathons and high-endurance athletics for the kicks they crave.

The day-to-day thirst for success doesn't end when CEOs and other business leaders leave the boardrooms of their billion-dollar companies, according to guests at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit this week.

"It is usually not a six- or seven-hour day, so part of it is you probably want something to keep you mentally and physically in shape," said Enrique Salem, chief operating officer of software maker Symantec Corp. "You want to do something that is challenging, that isn't about running a business."

Salem owns a Giant TCR C1 bike, which retails for over $3,000, and last year completed a charity ride around California's Lake Tahoe twice -- the second time in under 4 hours. His sojourns don't stop there.

"I skied 19 days last year. When I'm on the slopes, I'm trying to avoid trees and other skiers. So I am not thinking about what it takes to run Symantec. I think it's a bit of mental relief," he said.

Long-distance running offers the same meditative reward for Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar, whose five marathons include Iceland, Portland, Seattle and New York, twice.

"I love setting goals," said the head of the video website owned by News Corp and General Electric Co's NBC Universal. "Life is more interesting when you set goals that are not easy, and having a goal of a marathon ... is a very fun thing that focuses you in a way that just running 3 miles or 6 miles a day does not," Kilar added.

They are not alone. In fact, Denver-based CEO Challenges runs sports competitions designed for top executives, including Triathlons, Ironman, Fishing, Sailing and Tennis Challenges.

HOUR CLUB

Dave DeWalt, CEO of security software maker McAfee Inc, described his goal for the grueling Mount Diablo Challenge, a 10.8-mile bike ride up 3,240-feet to the peak in the San Francisco Bay area.

"There is a race from the bottom to the top," said DeWalt, who also wrestled in college and had been invited to Olympic trials. "I can only compete in the over 200-pound class because there are some really fast riders. But there is the "hour club" -- if you can do it in one hour or less, there is a special club. I can't quite crack it yet but I am working on it."

To be sure, golf courses, tennis courts and myriad other sports -- beloved by leaders of all stripes -- won't go out of business any time soon.

For example, the crop of presidential hopeful has diverse taste in athletics. Sen. Hilary Clinton owns her own bowling ball, Sen. Barack Obama loves basketball, and Sen. John McCain likes to hike around the hills of his Sedona, Arizona, ranch.

Some business leaders aspire to adrenaline-driven jaunts, but are willing to leave the serious challenges to more adventurous peers."

"I don't have a lot of athletic bones in my body. I wish I had more," said AT&T Inc Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner. "We've got (two) boats ... that we keep on Lake Travis. I will still jump on the water skis from time to time."

"Once or twice a year when conditions are perfect, the sun is shining, it's 90 degrees, the water is smooth. I get up, do a circle, come around and have a beer and say, "By God, I can still do it.""

(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

(For more on the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summits see

(Editing by Gary Hill)

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