Intro to Stair Climbing

Aside from being one of the tougher endurance sports, stair climbing, or tower racing, is essentially a fast and furious climb of the stairs in some of the nation's tallest buildings. It's a burst of aerobic endurance from the moment you enter the stairwell. After all, it is a continuous vertical climb to the top.

Why is there such an interest in these races? First, it is a huge accomplishment. Secondly, people are realizing if you can walk a 5K, or better yet run one, you can climb the stairs in a tower. It is enormously rewarding to get to the top of the building and look down at the street, but equally as euphoric to complete the race and look up at the building from street level afterward and say "I climbed that building."

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Firefighters have used building stairwells to train for years. Boxers, football players, runners and all types of sports competitors use stairs to cross train. To many of us stair climber, and that number is rapidly growing, it is the one of the most rewarding, exhilarating and challenging of races ever attempted.

According to American Lung Association Denver Director of Development Liz Toohey, "An exciting aspect of these vertical challenges is watching the elite climbers. But really, these climbs are accessible to all people. Athletes, non-athletes and even people with lung disease participate. Amazingly, firefighters usually compete in full regalia—gear that weighs up to 60 pounds."

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Facts About Stair Climbing:

  • It burns more calories in half the time than most leading aerobic sports.
  • Rewards and accolades are given for all age groups.
  • No special gear is necessary.
  • The average time to climb a 56 story building is 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Training can be as simple as climbing the stairs in a building.

On top of all of the great personal benefits, most of these climbs are sponsored by a 501c3 organization. "The Republic Plaza stair climb is our largest fundraiser of the year. We had more than 2,100 climbers and raised just under $500,000 this year," says Toohey of the American Lung Association event.

Since the first Fight for Air Denver climb in 2006, Toohey explains, "We have had a total of 12,706 climbers. In addition, we have raised more than $2.3 million here in Colorado alone from stair climb revenue."

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