by George (G.M.) Grena
This year marked the American Lung Association's 6th annual Fight for Air climb in Columbus, Ohio, & the 11th in Cincinnati. In the past they were held on different weekends from January to March, but this year the stars aligned for a back-to-back event on February 20-21.
Saturday's race was held at the 40-story James A. Rhodes State Office Tower, & Sunday's was at the 45-story Carew Tower (recently renamed Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel). Each stairwell reaches roughly 500 feet up, almost a tenth of a mile, so participants have the option of ascending/descending 10 laps (plus one partial lap beginning on an upper floor) to compete for the fastest vertical mile (VM) early in the morning. Shortly thereafter, the single-lap race was held for 245 participants in Columbus, 453 in Cincinnati.
Only 7 racers attempted the Columbus VM, with 4 going all the way officially. 18 tried it in Cincinnati, but only 16 made it. 48-year-old Brian Heber won it in Columbus with an official time of , while 59-year-old Alan Zaffiro took 1st place in Cincinnati in an amazing ! Traci Mehalic captured the fastest VM for Columbus females with, & Beth Brubacher did likewise in Cincinnati with .
29-year-old Daniel Kelly won the Columbus single-lap race with, while Theresa Mazzitti-Stell captured the women's title with . For perspective, the overall average time this year was , & the bldg. record set by Chris Hayes in 2013 at still stands firm. In his first skyscraper stair-climb ever (no training aside from horizontal running), 34-year-old Taylor Clark won the Cincinnati single-lap race with , & Erica Fye was the fastest woman with . The overall average time this year in Cincinnati was (unofficial bldg. record is ).
Although both stairwells span the same approximate height, the reason for the faster times at the Rhodes is due to its simple 10+10 layout for most of its floors, whereas the Carew not only has more floors, but twice as many turns with a 2+6+3+6 pattern.
Honorable mention goes to 49-year-old Charles Bower for being the ONLY competitor to participate in all 4 races! 42-year-old Minnesota resident, Brian Zamboni was the only other climber to do both VMs. California climber, G.M. Grena was the only other climber to do both single-lap races, capturing 1st-place for the Men's 50+ division at both venues. Official results & photos from both races are available at TriStateRacer.com.
George (G.M.) Grena