Bruce Rubin, 77, started running in the ’80s and has no plans to stop as he approaches his own 80s.
Back then, it was to get in shape and, to this day, he can tell you the exact number on the scale that prompted him to get off the couch. Today, running plays a different role in his life.
From the streets of Lansdale to up and down the basketball courts at a tournament at Stanford University, from the National Senior Games to the Penn Relays at Franklin Field, Rubin has run and run. Alone or with a team, running is one of the things that’s helped give shape to his life from the first time he put sole to hardwood or pavement, and surely the only arena where he once held a national record (4×400 for 75- to 79-year-olds).
Rubin was born in Brooklyn, and spent the early part of his childhood in the East Flatbush neighborhood. He worked at his parents’ bakery, taking orders at the counter when he wasn’t out playing stickball in the P.S. 135 schoolyard. After he graduated Brooklyn Technical High School, Rubin’s parents sold the bakery and moved to North Jersey, first Passaic, then East Rutherford.
A year at Northeastern University ended prematurely — “mathematics and some of the other subjects caught up to me,” Rubin recalled — and he soon ended up closer to home, at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He graduated in 1969 with a B.S. in economics, later earned an MBA from Temple University and has worked as a consultant, adviser and executive ever since.
Today, he’s a principal in the consulting company BHR Global Associates.
It was around his college era when Rubin met the woman that would become his wife, Gail Mandel. At the Surf City Hotel bar on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the two hit it off before she had to return to Philadelphia for a week. He was spending the next week at the shore, and told her that she should come back to see him when she could. One week of spectacular weather and bottles upon bottles of Coppertone later, she screamed when she saw Rubin on the beach — he’d gotten so tan, she barely recognized him.
They started dating, and Rubin would come down to see her from his home in North Jersey. Soon, they married, and moved to Bensalem. Together, they had one son, Brad.
Brad Brooks-Rubin, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., remembers when his father began to run. Enough time has elapsed that Brooks-Rubin is comfortable saying that he wasn’t sure how much to expect of his dad’s bid for fitness.
“I didn’t expect it to be something that he would really focus on so much,” Brooks-Rubin said. At the least, it wasn’t something that he expected his dad to be talking about in a magazine article 30 years later.
But Rubin came to enjoy running, much to his own surprise. The pounds came off, and the first time he was able to run the whole 4.5 miles around his development without stopping was a day that he cherishes still. His successes didn’t move Gail much — she was a tennis player, and quite happy with that — but it did catch the eye of Brooks-Rubin. In his 20s, he decided to join Rubin for a few runs and was “left in the dust,” he said, by his surprisingly speedy father.
It motivated Brooks-Rubin, who eventually ran three marathons. Today, he and his father still share a connection through running and competition; when Rubin comes to down the D.C. area to run or play basketball, he looks to Brooks-Rubin and two grandsons for encouragement.
“It’s pretty cool for them to see their granddad competing,” Brooks-Rubin said of his sons, Eliav and Adiv. He also sees his father’s running as helpful to him after the mother’s death in 2017.
“The athletics and the competition, the teamwork, the camaraderie, all of the things that go along with competing in sport, really helped my dad take care of my mom and get through a number of really hard years,” Brooks-Rubin said.
Rubin, though proud of what he’s accomplished in sports and business, isn’t the type to try sell you on himself. So you’ll have to let the people who know him best give the pitch.
Dave Marovich runs and plays basketball with Rubin, and was part of the 4×400 team with Rubin at the 2019 Penn Relays. Rubin, Marovich said, is the straw that stirs the drink, a playmaker on the floor who takes on a similar role off of it, organizing transportation, tournament entries and jerseys for the basketball team.
“We might not be the best athletes in that event,” Marovich said, “but Bruce makes up for a lot of that by just his desire to compete.”
Another friend of Rubin’s, Jim Van Horn, has nothing but praise for Rubin as a teammate away from any sport, too. The two met when they served together on the board of Beacon4Life, a professional networking organization in Philadelphia. It was clear from the first time he met Rubin, Van Horn said, that he was dealing with someone he could trust.
“The thing that interested me most, and also impressed me most, about Bruce, was his dedication and his sincerity about things,” Van Horn said. “He clearly was a person of his word. He demonstrated a very high level of values and ethics.”
The pandemic has put a stop to team competition for now, but Rubin sees hope on the horizon. Recently vaccinated and looking ahead to the 2022 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Rubin reports that his 3-on-3 basketball team is seeking a 6’5’’ baller born no later than Dec. 31, 1946, and preferably, in 1943. In other words, he said, “a tall old guy.”
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