Every step counts.
All 3,336 of them. On a warm day. In the sunshine. At a baseball stadium.
The event: The Fight for Air Climb.
The objective: To climb for those who aren't able, to promote health and fitness, and to raise funds (on behalf of the American Lung Association) to aid those who suffer with lung disease.
The climber: me (and numerous others).Most know that I'm no stranger to the sport of stair-training or the Fight for Air Climb. In fact, this was my 10th Climb. I first took to the stairs in 2013, and I have gone back every year except for 2019 (when I was in DC for the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile) and in 2020 (when the Climb had to go virtual and I had to do the Climb on my own stairway). I also climbed the Chicago venue in 2014. If you care to read about the previous Iowa climbs, here are the recaps --> 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021 (you're welcome).
The Fight for Air Climb (more info HERE) is a national event, with numerous local venues, and is affiliated with the American Lung Association. Now in it's 19th year, the Des Moines Climb had always been held indoors, utilizing the stairwells of several tall buildings downtown. Last year, due to the continuing COVID-19 situation, the event was changed to an outdoor setting. Alas, Principal Park, home of the Iowa Cubs baseball team, was where it all happened (last year and, again, this year).
My climb time wasn't until 10:10, so I arrived on the scene just after 9:30. I'd had my packet mailed to me, but I did need to stop by the check-in table and turn in more cash donations. I also wore the 2022 event shirt (stair-climbers don't worry about jinxing their performance, like runners do, in regards to wearing the event shirt at the actual event itself, LOL).
So how does this work, in a stadium? Instead of scaling several flights of stairs, and then riding the elevators down (before climbing another stairway in a different building), the climbers are in constant motion, on-foot. The start line was at one end of the field (on the first base side), and the climbers then alternated going up one aisle, and then down the next, as they make their way around (and through) the rows of stadium seats (ending past third base).
Last year, all participants who climbed in person (climbing virtually was also an option) did one "lap" around the stadium and then had to leave. With Covid precautions in place, there weren't any spectators allowed in the stadium (other than event volunteers). This year, though, we were given the option to climb one, two, three or four laps.
The climbers go in staggered waves, and everything is chip-timed. Upon lining up, at the start line, we have to wait until the person ahead of us has cleared the first aisle before we're allowed to cross the timing mat.
Having climbed the stadium last year, I did hope to finish each "lap" faster than last year's 8:06 time. Since I was doing four laps, though, my finish time would obviously be much longer.
We certainly were blessed with beautiful weather! The temps were in the mid-60F's by the time I started climbing. The sun was shining brightly and there was a slight breeze.
My first lap went well. I tried to run (sort of, LOL) along the rows of seats when I was in between the aisles or along the concourse (behind the seats).
By the time I was working my way around, in my second lap, I was already feeing thirsty. There were numerous volunteers throughout the stadium, directing us where to go. Trust me, it would have been confusing remembering which were the designated "up" aisles and which were intended for going "down." Many of the volunteers had water bottles for the climbers, so I grabbed one when I was approximately half way through that second lap.
I hadn't noticed (or heard) the timing mat after the first lap, but I saw it as I finished my second lap. Since I knew I was free to take my time in getting back around to the start line (for my third lap), I paused and drank more of the water (it was difficult trying to drink it while climbing). I also took advantage of the restrooms.
As I was starting that final lap, I could feel the fatigue setting in. I was still able to take the steps two-at-a-time, but I had to use some caution while descending. I was grateful to have a free hand to grab the railing intermittently! It felt great to finish off the final stairs and leap across the finish line for the last time.
How did I do?