Some Chicago executives are training for the D-10, a modern version of the decathlon that raises money for pediatric cancer research at Rush University Medical Center.

“It’s where the Olympics meets CrossFit,” said Tom Davis, managing director at Brown Brothers Harriman, a privately owned financial services firm. Tom Rowland, senior vice president at asset-management firm GCM Grosvenor, and Tyrone Redic Jr., managing partner of Honey’s Chicago restaurant, are also competing.

They’re all on the Chicago board of the D-10, an organization that started in New York and was previously known as the Wall Street Decathlon.

“It’s an interesting way to be competitive and stay in shape and make a commitment to something that takes some effort,” says Rowland, who was motivated to join because of the cause. “If you’ve been touched by pediatric cancer it is especially impactful.”

Tyrone Redic Jr. (left) and Tom Rowland

Tyrone Redic Jr. (left) and Tom Rowland

It’s also a good way to bring out the competitive spirit of business executives. Olympic decathlon winners are known as the world’s greatest athletes, after all.

These amateur athletes will run 400 meters, 800 meters, a 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle. All that footwork is interspersed with throwing a football, doing pull-ups and dips, rowing 500 meters, vertical jumps and bench pressing.

“You may be a great runner but can’t do the bench press well, so you won’t score well in the overall competition,” Davis said. “For me, the hardest is the 500-meter row. It’s a minute-thirty of all cardio. It’s the sixth event, and your legs are flushed out with four events to go.”

He grew up in Denver and worked internationally before landing in Chicago. “I’m your typical late-30s-type guy who’s fairly active and works out,” Davis says.

The Chicago competitors have joined a four-month decathlon training program with Equinox fitness clubs to prepare for the August decathlon at Lane Tech high school.

Davis is competing as an individual. Others form four-person teams and split the 10 events.

After registration fees, individuals meet a $2,000 fundraising minimum. Teams raise at least $6,000. All of the money raised goes directly to Rush. Organizers of the Chicago event hope to raise $1 million.

Jarrett and the power players

Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett | Courtesy of Chicago Network

With Valerie Jarrett now part of the Obama Foundation, she becomes one of the most powerful women in Chicago.

But the 1,600 business leaders who packed the Chicago Hilton the other day could have told you that.

They gathered to hear the former presidential adviser speak at the Chicago Network’s “Women in the Forefront” luncheon.

The event is always a big crowd, but this one was especially so.

Among the notable names were Graham Media Group CEO Emily Barr, philanthropist Eleni Bousis, Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon, GrowthPlay Managing Director Amy Dordek, former Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois Action for Children Vice President Sandy Matthews, Chicagoland Chamber CEO Theresa Mintle, Allstate Vice President of Treasury Stephanie Neely, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Hyatt Hotels general counsel Rena Reiss, NextLevel Health CEO Cheryl Whitaker, and Barbara Bowman, an education specialist and Jarrett’s mom.

Jarrett, who announced she’s going to write a book, encouraged the crowd to embrace a career that “zigzags” and take risks. She told bosses to “do better” at retaining female talent.

Guests responded with repeated applause and hoots of approval.

Jarrett took the stage with her friend Susan Sher, who lobbed questions for a Q&A. Sher also worked in Obama’s White House and now is an adviser to the University of Chicago president.

The two women share the strongest of bonds. They were single moms working for former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Their story of juggling motherhood and work resonated with the mostly female audience.

“I had a great support network,” Jarrett said, referring to her parents. Still, she said, “We felt like we were hanging on by our fingernails.”

A Seder with a twist

Author Scott Turow at his north suburban Evanston home

Author Scott Turow | Sun-Times file photo

Owner Michael Dorf is putting the final touches on Tuesday’s pre-Passover Seder at City Winery.

The service includes comedy, a Leonard Cohen tribute and a prayer by author Scott Turow. But Dorf will really turn tradition on its ear by serving food before the prayers.

“There’s nothing worse than having 300 hungry Jews who have paid money waiting for food,” Dorf told me. “Since this is a week before Passover, we can take extra liberties.”

Honoring Roger Ebert

Chaz Ebert‘s Ebert Foundation is awarding grants of $1,000 to 21 Chicago nonprofits in honor of her late husband, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.

The awardees will be announced Tuesday during a memorial service in front of the Chicago Theatre.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.