Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 US Towerrunning Championships (Scale the Strat)

2017 US Towerrunning Championships
Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas
855 ft. 1440 steps 66 floors
2nd Place Overall 7:27
1st American 

On the cab ride to the hotel from the airport the driver asked if I was there for business or pleasure. I told her I'd have to say I'm here for both actually. I was arriving just around sundown and with little daylight remaining I pointed out to the cab driver that I'd be climbing that, pointing to the Stratosphere Tower. She gave me a look of disbelief mixed with confusion. 
I have wanted to come out to this event for years but my schedule never really lined up well to do that. Well this year there was an opening and I'm glad I came. There are some towers you climb and don't have any real connection to and you don't feel compelled to return. This tower on the other hand had me wanting more. I gave it a good go today but afterwards there was something telling me I can do better. This tower is set up in such a way that's so different than others. Long sets of staircases, minimal turns, and an open stairwell marked in feet instead of floors. The event boasts a staggering 107 floors which is more like 66 when you compare it to standard floor towers.

Weeks prior I heard some international was going to be there which wet my appetite. I don't shy away from competition, I embrace it. It makes me better and brings the best out of me. With a field of Sproule Love (which ended up not showing) Shaun Stephens-Wales from Canada, Gustavo from Mexico, Ralf from Germany and a slew of American talent I new I had my work cut out for me. I had wanted the title of US Towerrunning Champion for a while now, it's got a good ring to it and will look good amongst other achievements. I ended up going up first then, Shaun, Gustavo, Ralf, and most of the other american talent right behind. They sent us up in 30 second gaps. I instantly got in a good tempo and wasn't sure if I was hammering too hard or not, I felt comfortable. I had written 439' and 3:40 on my arm. That's the rough half way point for a 7:20 pace finish climb. I was surprised and had to do a double take at my watch when I saw 3:11 on my watch when I reached 439'. I slowed significantly and I could feel it. I started hearing Shaun approaching as I was reaching 10 floors to go. He caught up and stayed behind me the last few floors to the top. I had a decent push at the end which is always nice to find. 7:27 is fine by me for my first attempt at this tower. With it being so different in nature I'm happy with my performance.

After the race was possibly the most fun though. Shaun and I ran up and down the strip finding all the tallest buildings and running up them. We hit 4 different buildings ranging from 36 floors to 63 in the middle of 12.5k of running. It's an amazing thing this sport. I had never met Shaun before but it felt like just catching up. Unfortunately this trip was an in and out but I had a good time. I got to see a lot of old friends who I hadn't seen in years. Congrats to all those who climbed today and set PR's and broke through personal barriers. Till next time.
Justin Stewart 2nd, Shaun Stephen-Wales 1st, Hascher Ralf 3rd