Rutger Bruining

Founder and CEO

Rutger graduated with a degree in Business Economics from the University of Amsterdam and in 2004 started working as a strategy consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. Three years later he moved to New York for an MBA at Columbia University, after which he became Investment Director at Arle Capital (formerly Candover) in London. In 2013 he quit his job in private equity to focus on his love for history and stories: he founded StoryTerrace. Rutger likes sports and travelling; on the top of his wish list are Australia and Uganda.

As the StoryTerrace Founder and CEO, Rutger enjoys bringing stories to life himself…

A special medal

I woke up, lying on the road that runs through the south side of Central Park. Two large nurses were bent over looking down at me.

‘Do you know where you are?’ one of them asked. I didn’t have a clue.

‘You’re in New York City.’

‘Why?’ was the reply I managed.

I had arrived in the city a few days earlier to run the world-famous New York City Marathon with five of my friends. We had been training for half a year but that morning, as we drove towards the start in a silent bus filled with nervous competitors, it was easy to feel unprepared.

At this point, the runners with disabilities had already begun their 26.2-mile battle. Some of them were running on one leg and some were using crutches – their resolve was pure inspiration. I knew for sure: nothing was going to stop me from crossing the finish line in the fastest possible time.

Waiting amongst the crowd of other runners, I listened to the US national anthem blare over the speakers. Then, Mayor Bloomberg fired the starting gun and the mass of runners – myself included – heaved forward. It was sunny and I felt untouchable, running like the wind. I even had a big head start over two friends who had always been faster in training.

With two-thirds of the race complete, my legs were beginning to feel heavy. But enthusiastic cheers and wild yells pushed me forward; the crowd was absolutely mad. I wasn’t going to walk for even one step, not even on the long stretch through Manhattan and up towards the Bronx. The brave men and women on crutches that I saw in the morning wouldn’t slow down either. When I heard the crowd shouting, ‘Get the hell outta the Bronx,’ in that old-school New York accent, accompanied by roaring laughter, I knew I was almost at the point where the course shifted downhill.

On the bottom end of Central Park, my sight was blurred but the feeling the end was on the horizon gave me a boost. A friend of mine jumped over the fences, handed me a sports drink and disappeared. I took a gulp, threw away the bottle and hurled myself forward for the last mile. At the same time I tried to work out, unsuccessfully, whether I’d make the time I’d set for myself.

And then, all of a sudden, there I was. As in a dream, stammering up at two nurses. I tried to stay awake, but couldn’t keep myself present as I moved in and out of consciousness. An ambulance transported me to the nearest hospital, sirens blaring. When we arrived, I realized I couldn’t remember a thing. A scary feeling. Where was I? With whom? And why? I couldn’t remember my parents’ telephone number, which had been the same for over twenty years. Every time I tried to write it down, the result was a few numbers feebly written.

As the hours passed, my memory slowly returned and my friends showed up at my bedside. One of them had a medal and, to my amazement, said it was for me. I didn’t feel I had earned it, but they insisted, so I said thanks and accepted the gesture. Plus, who knows what stunt they had pulled to get it? After all, a New York marathon medal isn’t that easy to come by.

Seven years went by before I found out the story behind my undeserved token of victory. The fastest runner of all had given up his medal for me.


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