Intro to Stair Climbing

Republic Plaza—56 Floors by way of 1,098 steps

In its seventh year, Fight for Air Republic Plaza in downtown Denver remains one of the toughest climbs in the nation. Starting off at the mile high altitude of 5,280 feet, this event climbs quickly escalates up 714 feet, and your lungs start to hit that anaerobic zone around floor 15.

About a Stair Climb Race:

  • Elite racers go first.
  • Individual climbers go off in seven to eight second increments.
  • Teams usually follow individual racers and are placed based on the average of top climbers in the group (usually the top five).
  • The race culminates at the top of the building.
  • Climbers descend on elevators.
  • It is good etiquette to let faster climbers pass on the inside.
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At Viking Power Fitness under the tutelage of Elite Personal Trainer Oyvind Gulbrandsen, clients learn to push their interval and incline limits to get in shape for stair climbing. While Coloradans have a terrific incline training area at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Gulbrandsen knows a trek to this location usually requires a few hours for the round trip excursion. He says, "You can train for stair climbing if you have access to an area to run hills outside, a treadmill or a step mill and they will all help you reach your training goals."

Gulbrandsen and his wife Kelly are stair climbing fanatics. They started racing a few years ago and are hooked. "I wanted to push the limit a little this year at Republic Plaza so I wore a 15 pound vest for the race," he describes, "and it wasn't too bad. I finished in 9:35." Kelly finished her best race in Denver with a 9:07 time.

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How to Run Your First Race:

Don't go up the first 10 floors too fast or you'll hit a wall.
Pace yourself for the entire race.
Keep moving and don't stop.
Use the railings to help pull you up the flights (it is legal).

"Most of the 70 Fight for Air stair climbs occur between February and April, because after that people transition to 5K or other outdoor aerobic activities," explains Toohey.

Stair Climbing web sites, blogs and Facebook pages are attracting more interested athletes to the sport.

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