Meet the Elite: Male Stair Climber Justin Stewart

Every sport has a contingency of elite performers, and stair climbing is no exception. These climbers, in a multitude of age groups, scale the stairwells of America's tallest buildings, and they do it in astronomic times.

In 2009, the sports director and members of the global organization Towerrunning, established a ranking system for stair climbers based on an annual comparison of performances in 14 worldwide master races. Each race is weighted for degree of difficulty and the top placing men and women receive a point score for each race. Today, towerrunning.com has the most comprehensive compendium of data on stair climbers in the world.

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The 2012 Tower Running World Cup championship finale race, which features the top stair climb racers in the world, will be held in Bogota, Columbia at the end of the year. America should be well represented in both male and female divisions.

To be qualified as an elite, climbers must provide proof of placing in top 20 for their division. Elite racers usually get a premium start time to climb in a clear stairwell.

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Justin Stewart: 24, Springfield
2012 Towerrunning World Cup Ranking: First Place

Justin Stewart was an above average runner at Eastern Illinois University until his junior year when he was injured. "I picked up competitive cycling and began racing in crits and road races for a few years. I was a CAT 4 cyclist trying to get to CAT 3," says Stewart.

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