Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Empire State Runup

Yesterday was the Empire State Runup, a multi-wave race sponsored by the New York Road Runners Club that involves running up the stairs of the Empire State building from the lobby to the 86th floor observation deck. It's a heck of a way to bypass the elevator.

This event has been going on for some time now, and is repeated in other tall building throughout the country and the world. There are even outdoor events that involve enough steps that, when repeated in enough loops, approximate the climb up Mt. Everest. Eliminate or decrease gravity, and the distance to the Moon is next.

Running up steps has always been a training aspect for athletes, particularly runners. I used to add a series of stone steps to my 5 mile workouts in Flushing's Kissena Park. Many, many years ago.

Everytime the Runup rolls around I remember the stories that the old Irish guys told in a Madison Avenue Blarney Stone that was not far from the Empire State building. These fellows were on their break, or something, from being elevator starters, or lobby men in what was once upon a time the tallest building.

They, as well as I, remembered the time when there were six indoor track meets held each season at Madison Square Garden. Whenever one of these meets was scheduled they'd keep their eyes peeled on the lobby doors that led to the stairs for runners who were in town looking to top off their training with some stairs. They'd intercept those they found headed for the doors.

Which of course is just another example of how things change. Now, once a year, several hundred people are selected by the Road Runners Club for the right to pay an entry fee to run up the same stairs and reach the 86th floor completely out of breath.

Marketing. More powerful than gravity.


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