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Fight for Air Climb


When faced with the choice of taking the stairs or riding the elevator, most will opt for the latter. If you work on a higher floor, you might make the excuse that you don’t want to get sweaty before sitting in the office, or that you’re in a hurry. On March 22, make a change and not only tackle the stairwells of some of Des Moines’ tallest buildings, but help raise funds to help the American Lung Association (ALA) by competing in the Fight for Air Climb.

The Fight for Air Climb will take place on March 22 from 8 a.m. - noon.

The Fight for Air Climb will take place on March 22 from 8 a.m. – noon.

The goal is to help people gain “a newfound appreciation for their lungs, because when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” said Micki Sandquist, executive director of ALA in Iowa. “Anyone can climb.”

Considering the tallest building in Des Moines stretches a paltry 45 floors (and is not featured in this event), vertical running hasn’t picked up in the area as much as in other cities. But there are still competitors around here up to the challenge and eager to let their feet take flight. This year the Ruan Corporation building was added, making the event a four-building climb with the EMC Insurance Companies, Hub Tower and Marriott Hotel.

“The event is staged out of the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Climbers are escorted to the first building to climb EMC Insurance Companies then onto Hub Tower, Ruan and back to the Marriott Hotel using the skywalk system to move from building to building,” Sandquist said. “Spectator space is limited to the third floor Marriott and the skywalk area. Spectators are not allowed above the skywalk level in the other buildings.”

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When it comes to vertical running, there are four things you’d be wise to keep in mind. The first is your diet. It’s important to put good in to get good out of your performance, so watch what you eat. Stretching should also be a given, but often it’s forgotten. Be sure to stretch not only before the event but also after to prevent injury. It would also be wise to add extra focus to calve stretches and strength building before the race.

Since you’ll be bounding up stairs, it’s important to step up your cardio workouts. Given that you’ll be hoofing it up (potentially) 93 floors (1,801 stairs), it’s advised to increase your cardio load. Simply hop off your bike or go for a run to get a boost. And lastly, don’t forget your arms. You’ll be surprised how much your arms get a workout from vertical running. The natural movement will give you momentum to shoot up each flight while you also have the option to use the banister to help propel yourself up even quicker.

“The overall times to beat from last year (three buildings) are 6:58 minutes (men) and 9:36 minutes (women),” Sandquist said. CV


David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.


Fight for Air Climb

Sunday, March 22 at 8 a.m. – noon
Third Floor, Des Moines Marriott Downtown
$45 registration fee and $100 minimum fundraising
Contact the special events staff to register at EventsIA@Lung.org or at 515-309-9507.


If playing Katniss Everdeen is more your game, check out an introduction to archery on March 24 from 6:30–8 p.m. at Jester Park Equestrian Center. Polk County Conservation is hosting their Archery Basics class that will inform and explain the equipment and demonstrate form, how to operate a bow, and how to knock and arrow.

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