Race preview: 2015 Fight For Air Climb, January 25th, U.S. Bancorp Tower, Portland

Stair climbs are a unique and distinct sub-set of running events. With a built-in course and a set distance, sky-scraper stairwells provide an interesting and convenient setting for challenging races. I’ve never run one of these events, but I do know that stairs tire out certain of my leg muscles a lot more quickly than “conventional” hills.

My cats love sprinting up the stairs in my house, and I used to bound up the stairs two-at-a-time in my youth, but these days running up steps leaves my legs begging for mercy. There’s a point during the Red Lizards’ “Tour de Goose” run from Goose Hollow to Fairview where we run up the stairs in the Rose Garden (the one with the actual flowers, not what is now known as the Moda Center), and as hard a climb as the rest of the course is, those steps are where I really feel it. There’s something about the physics of climbing stairs that’s a lot more taxing on the leg muscles than mere hills.

Despite all those dire comments, I’m still planning to tackle my first official stair climb on Sunday, January 25th, at the Fight For Air Climb at the U.S. Bancorp Tower (“Big Pink”) in downtown Portland, a fundraiser for The American Lung Association.

There are five “distances” to choose from: 20, 40, 80, 120, or 160 floors, and participants can register individually or as part of a team. A T-shirt and finish line celebration is included. Individual registration is $35 (increasing to $40 on January 1st). The entry fee for First Responders and Military entrants is only $25. A minimum of $100 in fundraising is also required. The first wave begins at 9:00a.

For more information and to register visit

According to the event organizers, 15 minutes of stair climbing is equal to 30 minutes of running, and stair climbing provides a total body workout. It other words, it ain’t gonna be easy! But it will be fun, unique, and memorable.

So leave that StairMaster behind, prepare your quads and hamstrings for the agony to come, and come on out on January 25th for a unique event for a good cause that will leave you with a great sense of accomplishment (and maybe a great view from the top… if you can still see straight after all that effort!)

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