Fit And Frum


For a yeshiva graduate from Brooklyn, a mile swim, a 24-mile bike ride and a six-mile run — all in one day — began with a single question.

Last year, after David Shaoul had run a 10-kilometer race in Central Park and the New York City Marathon, both on a co-worker’s challenge after a decade-plus of athletic inactivity, he asked himself, “What’s the next thing?”

His answer was the triathlon, an Olympic-sanctioned sport that combines long-distance swimming, biking and running, all done consecutively.

So Shaoul, a 30-year-old sales manager who works in Midtown, will take part Sunday in the sixth annual Nautica New York City Triathlon. Orthodox, he will probably be the only Sabbath-observant competitor in the event. “I don’t know anyone in my community who does a triathlon,” he says, adding that Jewish marathoners are more common.

After deciding to become a triathlete, Shaoul, who lives in Flatbush, set upon an intensive training schedule, working out in each of the three disciplines a few times a week. That includes bike rides to work, over the Williamsburg Bridge, two-three times weekly.

“I never ran” before taking up his colleague’s dare two years ago, he says. “It just didn’t interest me.”

He did the 10-K in about 50 minutes and the marathon in 4 hours, 27 minutes, both fair times. “I’m not very competitive,” he says. “I love the sense of challenge.”

Now he’s hooked. At 5-9, 155 pounds, “I’m probably in the best shape of my life,” he says.

Keeping Shabbat, not working out one day a week, doesn’t interfere with his training, says Shaoul, a Yeshivah of Flatbush graduate. “In any training regimen, they always advise a day off.”

On Sunday, he’ll be among 3,000 men and women in the triathlon. His goal: “Any time under three hours.” The winner will finish in about 1:45.

His wife Robin and the couple’s two young children will come to watch him at the transition area along the Hudson River, he says.

What’s next?

Maybe Shaoul will step up to a half-Ironman triathlon, which features longer distances in each event, he says. He’ll probably enter the New York City Marathon and the New York City Triathlon next year and try to improve on his times in each event. “My next goal will be to beat myself.”