For my first event this spring, I took on a different kind of race. One of a slightly more … vertical … fashion. And it was fabulous!
The Fight for Air Climb is a nationwide event, taking place in multiple cities throughout the U.S. and organized by the American Lung Association. The climbs all exist as a fundraising method for the organization, and the money raised helps fund research, allowing scientists to discover new treatments and cures for lung diseases such as asthma and lung cancer.
I first heard about the Fight for Air Climb from Jennifer, and then I met some of their representatives at the race expo for the IMT Marathon last fall. Learning more and more about the event, I was intrigued – and then a challenge from my Crossfit Box to sign up for a charity event gave me the final “push” I needed to sign up.
By signing up for the race, I was responsible for raising $100, or paying it out of pocket. The race provided me with my own personal “website” and link to raise money, which made it easy to share with my friends and family.
Race day arrived before I knew it. I managed to forget to go to the assigned packet pick-up, so I was forced to get all of my materials (bib, shirt, etc.) the day of the race.
I don’t usually prefer to do it that way, but the pick up race morning was super smooth. I was really impressed! They even had coffee and refreshments. So important for this sleep-deprived girl (my friend had thrown a cannot-miss St. Patrick’s party the night prior).
The climbers were set up in waves to help spread out the crowd. I was in wave three, so I lined up pretty early to head to the start of the race. As soon as we were at the first staircase, we were allowed to enter one at a time and start running!
Unlike many cities, Des Moines doesn’t have a tall enough building (available) for the climb, so our stairs were split up into three sets, in three buildings, including the EMC Insurance Companies building (17 floors), Hub Tower (19 floors), and the Des Moines Marriott Downtown (30 floors). There were timing mats at the beginning and end of each staircase, and a combination of elevators and skywalks took us from staircase to staircase. Each route was clearly marked by cheering volunteers, which made it a ton of fun! In case you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s 66 total floors in the race.
Having the climb split up made it feel super short, in my opinion. It basically gave us two built-in breaks between the three sprints to get our breath back, drink some water, and well … enjoy the scenery. Or, what we could see from the skywalk.
I don’t have much to say about running stairs in general. It was about how you’d expect running a bunch of stairs to be. Tough! But I also believe that Crossfit is kind of the perfect preparation for a race like this. Short, intense, and over quickly. Soon enough, I was done. I was handed my medal at the finish line, and grabbed a bottle of water.
Although the whole thing felt ridiculously short, I really enjoyed my time at the event. I ended up with an official time of 13:06 for the 66 floors. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to participate again next year – I have a few ideas on how to speed myself up! I ran nearly the entire thing, but I want to try and leverage the floors better between the stairs next time.
As a whole, I was also really, really impressed with the organization of the Fight for Air Climb. I really, really love well-run races, and this was one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. There were no lines, tons of organized volunteers, and an informative site about the race. I’d recommend this race to anyone!
Have you ever thought about dong the Fight for Air Climb, or some other kind of “unconventional” race?