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Do you have the eye of the tiger?


Pictured are some of last year’s participants of Fight for Air Climb, which is slated for Sunday, March 16 at 8 a.m. to benefit the American Lung Association.

Pictured are some of last year’s participants of Fight for Air Climb, which is slated for Sunday, March 16 at 8 a.m. to benefit the American Lung Association.

It was just three decades ago that Lanny Potts introduced to the world a machine that many would come to love and even more would come to mock: All the entertainment of walking up the downward escalator with none of the fun that comes with dodging pedestrians, the StairMaster is a classic ’80s workout that just needs to get back to the basics. If you’re going for a climb, it might as well be up.

The sport of stair climbing or “tower running” is as brutal as it is simple. It’s a sport of few rules: Sprint up a skyscrapers stairwell as fast as possible, and collapse at the top. The person with the fastest time wins. However, let’s not forget, these towers are called “skyscrapers” for good reason. They are tall.

But here in Des Moines, we don’t necessarily have “skyscrapers” as much as we’ve got Earth protrusions. No matter, where there’s a stairwell, there is an arena for this event.

The Fight For Air Climb was dreamed up when folks at the American Lung Association noticed the increased interest in tower climbing 11 years ago. It has held the Fight for Air Climb — a charitable event to support lung cancer awareness — ever since.

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“The climb is often referred to as a ‘vertical road race,’ ” said Micki Sandquist, executive director of American Marketing Association in Iowa. “Participating in the Fight for Air Climb allows you to help others while accomplishing your own life goals. You’re not just training for a climb; you’re training for an end to lung disease.”

This year’s Fight for Air Climb has already registered 148 teams and 1,060 participants — the most ever. There will be up to three buildings to climb: EMC Insurance Companies (16), Hub Tower (18) and Des Moines Marriott Downtown (32).

“Last year’s fastest time was 7 minutes and 7 seconds for all three buildings,” recalled Sandquist, who said running up stairs increases cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance.

Running up stairs is a body-upward as well as a body-forward movement, so it’s also a fight against gravity, which uses more energy. Tower runners also use their arms to haul them up using the stair rail, which means the upper body is being worked, too. Countless sports incorporate the stair climb into workout routines, including football, soccer and boxing.

Think of it this way: If a participant chooses to run up all three building in the Fight for Air Climb, he or she will have climbed 66 steps. Rocky ran up 72 steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the movie “Rocky.” “Gonna Fly Now” (Bill Conti) and “Eye of the Tiger” (Survivor) are a total of 6:54 minutes long. Is there a movie montage in you? 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
WHERE: Third floor at the Marriott downtown
WHEN: Sunday, March 16 at 8 a.m. (Participants arrive 30 minutes early.) Packet pick-up is on Friday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
REGISTER: Call 309-9507 no later than Saturday at noon.
PRICE: $25 registration fee plus a $100 minimum fundraising requirement.
NOTE: Spectators may be in the skywalk to cheer the climbers on as they walk in between the buildings.


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