Meet the Elite Women Stair Climbers, Pt.2

Kourtney Dexter at the WaMu climb in Seattle

Kourtney Dexter, 31—Bellevue, Washington
2012 Towerrunning World Cup Ranking—Third Place

Elite stair climber, PJ Glassey, had a lot to do with Kourtney Dexter racing up her first stair climb in the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle five years ago. "I was a personal trainer in PJ's gym, and he got this new incline trainer and made a bet with all of us. He told us he would give anyone $100 who put the incline at 50 percent, ran 2.0 speed and held it for five minutes. I took the challenge and won," Dexter reluctantly describes.

MoreMeet the Elite Women Stair Climbers, Pt.1

Witnessing Dexter's stamina, Glassey encouraged her to sign up for the Columbia Tower climb. She won the overall female division that first year. "I think I picked my parents well; I have good genetics," she says with a smile.

Dexter loved the sport instantly and signed up for the other races in Seattle. She says, "You know, stair climbing is a sport that is easy on your body compared to other sport. It doesn't have a lot of impact on your joints. It's also a sport that you continue to improve your times year after year."

MoreStair Workouts for Endurance Athletes

Sharing her training regimen, Dexter describes, "I don't train nearly as hard as some others do. I am a gym rat, but I'm not a runner nor a cyclist, but I do have the mental tenacity to not quit."

Training involves three to four days a week of interval training and a couple of days of endurance workouts. "The key is to teach your body to just keep going and when I'm in the stairwell I can push myself to keep going," Dexter relays.

Interval training for Dexter might include time on the stair mill or treadmill. "I will run at a fast pace with the incline set as high as it goes and it is not timed. I go as long as I can and then rest for a minute. I might repeat this seven or eight times. For an endurance workout, I like indoor spinning," details Dexter.

MoreVertical Training vs. Horizontal Training

Like most of the elite climbers, Dexter suggests stair climbers take it easy. "Start off slower than you think for the first 10 floors. It should feel like you can go faster and then you just try to maintain that speed throughout the rest of the race. Oh, and ignore water stations," she advises.

Dexter summarizes by categorizing stair climbers. "There are two type of climbers: those who are competitive and those who are not highly dependent on young legs. Both types go as slow or fast as they want and still feel good at the end."

MoreYour 7-Day Stair Climbing Workout Plan

Active logoSign up for your next race.

About the Author

Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith is a freelance writer, who has been published in many local Denver magazines and was nationally published in Her Sport. She has a keen interest in writing about athletics. She is a chef, mother of four and a fitness enthusiast. She recently picked up stair climb races as her new favorite sport, and while she isn't the fastest, she is passionate about competing in more races and getting better times.
Kathy Smith is a freelance writer, who has been published in many local Denver magazines and was nationally published in Her Sport. She has a keen interest in writing about athletics. She is a chef, mother of four and a fitness enthusiast. She recently picked up stair climb races as her new favorite sport, and while she isn't the fastest, she is passionate about competing in more races and getting better times.

Discuss This Article