Okay, so I saw this one come across my email and while it wasn't a running event, I was intrigued because of the "fight for air" movement. Those who know me, know I have a beautiful daughter-in-love who battles Cystic Fibrosis and since I couldn't find a benefit to fund them directly, I figured this might be a good option. (To read more of Mindy's story click here)
I had no idea how it worked but I gave myself two hours to climb and figured I would do as much as I could in that time frame. I didn't know if we climbed and went back down, or exactly the process so I was a little nervous that morning.
I found the check in area in the lobby of the Zion's bank tower. I got my packet with my bib, timing chip and everything else. I knew it was scrambling stairs as fast as I could, so I opted for my "scrambling rocks" shoes - don't mock - my Vibram five fingers. I figured I could be fast without having a bulky shoe to trip on since I am famous for tripping over myself. I was eliminating extra hazards for myself.
I loaded a gel, and my phone in my spibelt, set everything else aside in my bag and the volunteers graciously offered to keep it in a safe place until I was done.
I headed to the bottom of the stairwell and off I went! Talk about going out TOO FAST! Holy Smokes! There were 38 flight of stairs, and the timing was from bottom to top. Ever started sprinting stairs? Yeah. That. By about the 18th floor my chest was on fire! I slowed it down and decided that I would like to survive the whole thing. There was a water break on the 19th floor and the volunteers were amazing! I was basically climbing by myself although I would encounter another climber or two either passing them or as they passed me. Each person seemed to have a significant purpose in their climb. Either for themselves as they suffered with a lung ailment that makes it difficult to breathe, or for a loved one with the struggle. It was pretty inspiring to see young kids and teens who were clearly sick with some ailment slowly climb those 38 flights.
In the opposite stairwell, firefighters from all over also participated in their own challenge. They were geared up and they were competing to see who could complete the 38 flights the fastest. Those guys were amazing! I wasn't alongside them, but at the top they would come out of their stairwell, ripping off their masks and catching their breath.
Once I hit the 38th floor and the timing pad, I turned down into a huge conference room where they gave you your medal, there was food and beverages and people mingling about waiting for the awards to be given later. Since it took me less than 5 minutes (4:16) to be exact, to complete the climb I didn't really know what to do. I had two hours to work with, and I was sacrificing a run for this. I had planned on using it as hill training. As I walked around the room, I saw that there was a second competition taking place and that was how many times you could do the climb. Okay. I figured I might as well make good use of the time and just see how many I could do. There was a cute volunteer that was keeping track each time you hit the top so off I went. You had to take the elevators down (safety hazard to have climbers going up and down at the same time in the stairwells) so it gave me a chance to catch my breath and talk to other climbers. Then off the elevators and around to the start again. And again. And again.
In all total - I was able to complete the climb 20 times!! Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!
Sure, I wasn't the fastest female. More like in the bottom 10% of the 51 females who participated, but dang I busted out more times than anyone else in the entire field. The volunteers were so amazing. Each time I came around, they would encourage me and congratulate me. There was one particular police officer at the top (for security purposes) who high fived me, thumbs up'd, head nodded or otherwise acknowledged me every time I went around. It was such a fun thing!
When I reached the top the 20th time, the volunteer said that it was over and they were getting ready to give prizes, so as I came into the now very crowded conference room, I took my medal and made my way over to the volunteer who was keeping count to confirm that I had indeed done twenty. She excitedly told me I had the most and told me to make sure I stuck around for my prize.
With a beautiful view 38 floors up, I stretched and people watched. Around the building they had put posters up with the names of people who the climbers were climbing for. I looked for mine with Mindy's name but couldn't find it until I went back downstairs.
They finally got around to giving awards. I got mine, picture taken with the head guy of the foundation then it was a mad race back home for a shower and off to work.
Such a fun event, and with those two hours of time to mostly myself, I had a lot of time to think. We've got to come up with something designated for Cystic Fibrosis. We HAVE to find a cure for this horrible disease. Was that something I could venture into? Do I have what it takes to put something together like that? I was plotting and scheming while I was climbing. Every time up the stairs I would try something a little different with my climb, like two stairs at a time. Backwards. Wide steps. Mixing it up for muscle confusion. All the while thinking of how something needed to be done to raise not just awareness but more importantly funds for research. For a cure!
I gathered my things from the wonderful volunteers back in the lobby, took a few pics and then sprinted to my car and raced home. I didn't come away with any wonderful ideas for an event for the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis foundation (and by local, it encompasses Utah and Idaho with a few things, nothing really close to home), but I did come home with the plan of contacting the chapter and seeing where I can volunteer my services to gain more funding for research and ultimately a cure.
Would I recommend this event? Absolutely. It was very well run, the volunteers among the very best I've ever encountered, the proceeds to a worthy cause, and a great excuse for some hill training. But keep your eyes pealed for when I find something specifically for the foundation of my choice: The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
PS - a HUGE shout out to Darrell and Cassandra Catmull for your donation on behalf of my team Team Minderella. I love you and appreciate your support!