Locals take home top prizes at unique, inaugural Base 2 Space

SEATTLE—In a city considered a hotbed for American tower racing, one of that city’s landmark towers had been eluding the stair race circuit.


That is until Oct. 3, when 1,080 participants scaled their way from “base” to “space” at the inaugural Base 2 Space stair climb at Seattle’s Space Needle.


The climb, which raised approximately $500,000 for Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“Fred Hutch”), opened up the 832-step stairwells of the Space Needle to the public for the first time in the tower’s 53-year history.


Billed as a 52-story climb, despite the Space Needle’s lack of true floors, climbers ventured up the Needle’s dual open-air stairwells before crossing the finish line roughly 520-feet above ground in the tower’s observatory deck.


While the open-air climb provided a uniqueness that most who climb traditional building stairs might not be used to, the experience also differed from the norm due to the stairs’ configuration. Triangular in design, climbers had only 135-degree turns to contend with, rather than the traditional 180 degrees.


Because no one had ever raced the Space Needle’s stairs competitively before, the thought of what a winning time might be prior to the race was mere speculation.


In the end, Lawrence Beck, 51, of Carnation, Wash., set the standard. Beck powered his way to the observatory deck despite race-time temperatures in the low 50s and swirling wind in the stairwell in a little more than five minutes. He clocked a 5:19, good enough to net him a first place replica Space Needle trophy.


Seattle’s Julie Vieselmeyer, 34, took home a Space Needle trophy of her own after reaching the top in 6:35, good enough for the fastest female time.


Amber Taylor, 35, and Andrea Effgen, 42—both also of Seattle—rounded out the top three female finishers at 6:46 and 6:49, respectively. Among the men, PJ Glassey, 49, of Bellevue, Wash., took home second with a time of 5:26, while Josh Duncan, 38, of Carpentersville, Ill., finished third in 5:37.


Duncan’s third place finish came little more than a month after fracturing his left clavicle in a cycling accident.


Glassey, owner of Seattle’s X-Gym, played a role in making Base 2 Space more competitor-friendly. The event, which required prohibitive participation costs—$100 registration and $250 minimum fundraising—implemented a competitive climber discount after consulting with Glassey. He also worked with the event to firm up the event’s start waves, including an elite/competitive start wave that led off the race.


For more information about the climb itself and Fred Hutch, visit the Base 2 Space website ( Full race results can be found here (