Leninger breaks own Presidential Towers record, has company going sub-16

CHICAGO—For the second time in less than a month, Eric Leninger reset an event record that he already owned.

After having trimmed his own 12-climb power hour record at February’s Fight For Air Oakbrook Terrace, the 32-year-old Chicago-area towerrunning dynamo shaved two seconds off the record he set last year at the American Lung Association’s sister event to the Oakbrook climb—Fight For Air Chicago at the city’s downtown four-building Presidential Towers luxury high-rise apartment complex.

During the March 6 event, Leninger scaled each of the four short-flighted, cramped-quarters stairwells—listed at 45 stories and 585 steps apiece—in a total cumulative time of 15:09, down from his 2015 time of 15:11. His finish last year had broken the previous record of 15:22 set by Justin Stewart in 2013.

On top of breaking his own record, Leninger also became the first person in the history of the event to complete each of the four climbs in less than four minutes (3:28, 3:50, 3:56, 3:55).

The “four-by-sub-4”  feat was made more impressive considering that all but the first climb require running through corridors and skywalks before entering the stairwells, as well as the fact that the top pack of climbers this year were moving quickly from tower to tower, taking relatively short rest breaks.

Leninger narrowly missed dipping below four minutes in all of his climbs last year, as he was sub-4 in towers one, two, and four, but notched a 4:03 at tower three in 2015. Stewart’s old record in 2013 had previously been the only other time anyone had done the same, as his tower three that year was 4:17.

The duo had company in that uber-elite category, as this year’s second-place finisher, 33-year-old Minnesota trail runner Dennis Curran, finished in 15:34, which included sub-4s in all but tower two, where he recorded a 4:03.

Curran’s Presidential Towers debut effort ranks as the fourth-fastest climb total in the event’s history, and placed him among prestigious company as the only the fifth person ever to complete all four climbs in less than 16 minutes, joining Leninger, Stewart, Jesse Berg, and Dan Walters.

Aside from Curran, everyone in that group has accomplished the feat twice.

Walters, for his part, took third place this year by finishing his climbs in 15:58, which also included sub-4s in all but tower two, where he notched a 4:13. Walters had joined the sub-16 club in his Presidential Towers debut in 2015, where he amassed a total of 15:54.

On the women’s side, 28-year-old Jackie Hamlin took the top spot, clocking in at 21:45 across all four climbs, while Olga Starikova, 38, finished second with a cumulative time of 22:38. Long-time Presidential Towers competitor Kelly Gulbrandsen once again made the trip from Colorado en route to a third-place finish, notching a 22:46.

Gulbrandsen wasn’t the only one to make travel a part of the event, however. A handful of Presidential Towers climbers took part in climbs the day before.

Several climbers completed a triple climb at Indianapolis’ 48-story, 1,054-step Chase Tower less than 24 hours earlier.

Minneapolis-area towerrunner Brian Zamboni, 42, Milwaukee-area climber Josh Jackett, 36, and Chicago-area climbers Harish Nambiar, 46, and Charles Bower, 49, each completed the I-65 multi-climb doubleheader, amassing 324 stories and 5,502 steps climbed over the two-day span.

Not to be outdone, however, Chicago-area towerrunner Josh Duncan, 38, easily won the weekend’s stairs-climbed count. On top of a 21:17 performance that placed him 19th at the four-building Presidential Towers climb, the day prior Duncan took first place at the 2016 Outclimb Cancer Challenge, a 6-hour ultramarathon-style climb at the 24-story, 609-step Wells Fargo Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He completed 46 climbs there, two ahead of second-place finisher Steve Stermer, and placing his Utah total at 1,104 stories and 28,014 steps climbed. His 46 climbs were only two off of the course record of 48. Presidential Towers’ 180 stories and 2,340 steps were a relative drop in the bucket compared to that, but added together, his weekend total was 1,284 stories and 30,354 steps climbed.

In total, 1,157 participants climbed all four of Presidential Towers’ buildings, while an additional 284 people scaled simply one, two, or three of the buildings.


Full results can be found at