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Matison shatters L.A. Aon record in 2nd stair race

By Josh Jackett and G.M. Grena

LOS ANGELES—In only his second competitive stair race, obliterating event records is already becoming old hat for Lucas Matison.

The 19-year-old Los Angeles-area mountain runner left the field in the dust at the April 16 Fight For Air Climb Los Angeles, where he became the first person ever to reach the roof of the 63-story, 1,393-step Aon Center in less than 8 minutes—legitimately, that is.

Not only did Matison’s 7:44 finish eclipse the course record of 8:02, which was set by Chicago area towerrunner Jesse Berg in 2012, but his time also edged former Aon Center maintenance worker Miguel Larios’ infamous elevator-assisted time of 7:45, also recorded in 2012.

Larios’ “record” stunned participants and onlookers of the sport alike, thanks not only to his lack of history in the sport but also a physical appearance that didn’t match the alleged performance. His feat stood for only about two and a half days before race organizers stripped him of his win and removed his time, after CCTV footage showed him using an elevator to skip a sizeable chunk of the climb.

Matison’s time was a little less of a shock, however, despite beating even Larios's elevator-assisted time. After representing the US Junior Mountain Running Team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy in 2014, he made his stair race debut by becoming the first person to reach the top of the 75-story US Bank Tower in less than 9 minutes during the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA Stair Climb For Los Angeles last September.

As for the rest of the field at FFA Los Angeles, second-place male finisher Jonathan Garcia, 26, was on an island of his own with an 8:49. His time was more than a minute behind Matison, and more than 30 seconds faster than third-place finisher Scott Stanley. The Dallas-area towerrunner added to his strong season by reaching the top of the Aon Center in 9:23.

Johnny now joins this VIP list of other sub-9 climbers (aside from Berg), all of whom were under the age of 42 when they achieved it:

 

Javier Santiago 8:03

Justin Stewart 8:16

Tommy Coleman 8:17

Tim Van Orden 8:19

John Osborn 8:30

Wesley Reutimann 8:49

Kevin Crossman 8:51

Erika Aklufi 8:52

Erika's record for women remains essentially unchallenged.

The battle for the top woman at the climb was much fiercer, as the top three finishers all finished within 36 seconds of each other.

In the end it was Julie-Rae Steinmeyer, 41, whose 10:10 finish was good enough for the win among all women and seventh place overall. The win was Steinmeyer’s second straight at the Aon Center, tying her with Erika Aklufi (2013, 2014) and Kristin Frey (2010, 2012) for most female wins at the building, and was 15 seconds faster than her 2015 finish.

Meanwhile, Christine Soskins, 35, reached the Aon Center roof in 10:37, edging out Veronica Stocker, 46, who finished in 10:46. Soskins and Stocker also finished 10th and 12th overall, respectively.

A total of 620 people participated in the Los Angeles FFA, which raised more than $228,000 for the American Lung Association in California.

Tip for anyone planning to participate in next year's race: The parking structure reserved for climbers immediately east of Aon (637 Wilshire Blvd.) has an excellent staircase in which to warm up. If you take the elevator down to the lowest level, it has 232 steps spanning almost 140 vertical feet.

 

Full results can be found at http://my.racewire.com/results/32328/36320.