March 2017 newsletter


Presidential towers 3/6


Fight for air Chicago(Presidential Towers) was another fantastic event.  As opposed to last year, where three climbers went under the rarefied 16 minute mark, no one broke 16 minutes, though european powerhouse Ralf Hascher came tantalizingly close, putting down a super speedy 16:01.  In second place in his comeback tour was Jesse Berg with a 16:31, after putting down an incredible 3:01 first climb.  In third place was 14 year old Robert Liking, cementing his place on the national scene with a blazing 17:29.


On the women’s side, Chicago climber Olga Starikova  won overall with a time of 20:29, with Sheri Breese close behind with a 20:40.  Right behind her was 44 year old Kendra Frigo with a time of 21:00.  It was interesting that the top 3 women finished adjacent in the overall standings, showing how competitive the women’s field can be nowadays.


Although a non-cup race, this event earned 60 bonus points when 17 people went under the 21:20 bonus cutoff, leading to the race being scored as 110 points.

Milwaukee FFA's


For the second straight stair race, Milwaukee-area runner Sal Impellitteri lined up first at the start line with no one slowing his path to the top of the US Bank Center. And for the second straight stair race, he came within mere seconds of the vaunted sub-5-minute club.


The 36-year-old Impellitteri had to settle for a 5:02 finish at the American Lung Association in Wisconsin’s March 18 Fight For Air Climb—good enough for his fifth straight event win, his sixth overall US Bank Center stair race win, and a new Milwaukee FFA event record.


While Impellitteri, who set a PR of 5:00-flat at last November’s CF Climb, hadn’t discovered stairwell success—or even stairwell races—until his 30s, the ever-improving Chicago-area towerrunning prodigy Robert Liking is notching his name in the record books at the tender age of 14.


With seven total climbs, not only did Liking take home first place at the Milwaukee FFA’s Ultimate Climb “power hour,” where participants scale the 47 stories and 981 steps to the top as many times as they can in an hour, his total net time of 47:32 lowered the event record by 50 seconds over fellow Chicago-area runner/climber Liz Ruvalcaba, who totaled 48:22 for her 7 climbs in 2015.


Liking’s first climb finish of 6:05 was good enough for fourth fastest overall on the day—from both single climb and Ultimate Climb participants. For overall finish standings purposes, power hour participants’ first climb times are included among single climb participants’ results.


Second place on the day was a 5:09 finish by Chicago towerrunning legend Jesse Berg.  West Allis triathlete Adam Bruss, 35, rounded out the FFA podium, notching a 5:45 finish—a 5-second PR.  Impellitteri, Berg, and Bruss combined to make this the first-ever Milwaukee FFA with three sub-6-minute finishes.


On the women’s side of things, it was Milwaukee FFA veteran Holly LaVesser finishing as the fastest female on the day, as well as finishing first among all women in the power hour. It was LaVesser’s second straight win in each category, and her third overall in the power hour.


LaVesser banged out six climbs in a total of 45:03, with her first coming in 6:53. The sub-7 finish makes her the sixth woman ever to reach the top of the US Bank Center in less than 7 minutes, joining Collins-Carlson, Ruvalcaba, Spartan Pro Becca Clifford, and towerrunning legends Cindy Harris and Kristen Frey.


The overall women’s field was rather strong on the day, as six women total reached the top of the US Bank Center in less than 8 minutes. The overall top three was rounded out by locals Kristen Strother, 46, who finished in 7:22, and Erin Smith, 43, who made her way to the top in 7:27.




After an unlucky elevator delay cost him entry into the power hour’s seven-climb club in 2015, Carpentersville, Ill., towerrunner Josh Duncan, 39, made it a lucky no. 7 at this year’s climb.


Duncan’s net total of 50:13 ranks sixth all time among the 11 times participants have successfully achieved seven climbs in the hour, and makes him the ninth person to notch seven climbs. His first climb of 6:15 ranked as the fifth fastest climb on the day.

ALA tampa


This 150 point in florida attracted a strong field.  Taking first overall was national powerhouse and perennial top 3 Thomas Scott, racing to the top in 5:01.  Close behind was Daryle Glaser with a 5:04.  Third overall was local climber Corey Holthaus with an excellent time of 5:22.


On the Women’s side, Sue Glaser won with a speedy ascent of 7:20.  Close on her heels was Stella Valitutto with a 7:30.  Rounding out the top 3 was Dawn Sterns with a 7:46.  



The ALA Springfield event always draws an incredibly tough field for a race far from a major metropolitan area. With over 800 athletes registered, and nearly 700 finishing the event, this race is a major event on the prairie!


Part of the reason the area is such a hotbed of tower racing is the presence of Terry Purcell. Though dipping his toe back in the waters of racing, Terry did not participate in this event, but answered the need for a professional and efficient race organizer.  


With Terry in charge, the event went off without a hitch.  


The power hour went first, with the elite wave getting a clear stairwell for 10 minutes.  Utilizing that clear stairwell Justin Stewart powered through 12 climbs in 41:46.  In second place Joshua duncan with a 2:57 first climb and 12 ascents in 46:17.  In third was John “oz” Osbourn, with a 2:30 first climb and 11 ascents in 43:26.  Your author just missed getting in his eleventh climb, waiting several long minutes for hith 10th elevator ride down.


On the women’s side in the power hour, Cindy Harris continued her amazing year, banging out a 3:23 first climb, then 12 ascents total in 45:53.  Sanya Kushak made 11 ascents in 50:37, and Roxanne Sanchez was third, with 10 climbs in 49:18.


For the sprint, Justin Stewart’s first power climb of 2:09 was the best time of the day.  John Osborne’s first power hour climb of 2:30.0 netted him second, and Jesse Berg was third with 2:30.2.  


On the women’s side, Natalie Hudgens got first with 3:22.5, just edging out Cindy Harris with a 3:23.  Third was 18 year old Madelyn Wilson’s first power hour climb of 3:44.3.

Dallas Vert Mile - March 25


The inaugural Dallas Vert Mile in Texas, brought a terrific field who blazed Reunion Tower’s 470 vertical feet and 807 steps.


The event featured three races - a sprint race (worth 60 world points), which consisted of one climb up the tower; a three-lap, 1/4 climb; and a 12 lap vert - or vertical - mile.


Egle Uljas won the women’s field with a time of 5:42 followed by Jessica Pickett and Christiana Aleman. Karen Geninatti - who had won previously in Reunion Tower - and Heather Conover - rounded out the top five.


On the men’s side, Jason Larson defeated John “Oz” Osborn by four seconds to claim victory in 4:12. Brian Elliott - an accomplished endurance athlete but newcomer to tower racing - came in third. Josh Duncan missed the podium by just one second, and Scott Stanley, the former Reunion Tower record holder, finished fifth.


Although this marked the first Dallas Vert Mile tower race, there had been races in Reunion Tower in the past, and the winners of the sprint race didn't just beat the previous records - they smashed them! Ten women beat or tied the previous record of 7:20, and eight men finished under the previous record of 5:08. Egle Uljas topped the record by nearly 1 1/2 minutes, and Jason Larson lowered the men’s record by 56 seconds.


The vertical mile was guaranteed at least 100 Towerrunning USA points. Jason Larson and Oz Osborn battled just as fiercely as they did in the sprint race, and this time, Oz came out on top with a time 1:01.22. He edged Larson by 15 seconds - a difference of just 1.25 seconds per lap. Josh Duncan easily made the podium in this race with a solid third place showing followed by Brady Renshaw in fourth and Brian Elliott in fifth.  Notably, John Osborn’s average climb was 5:07.5, faster than the pre-existing course record.  Quite a feat.


On the women’s side, Kristin Renshaw won the full vert mile in 1:11:22. All of her climb times broke the pre-existing course record by over a minute, and her first climb of 5:40 would have won the sprint, had she participated.  Andrea Magee came in second followed by Jessica Pickett.  Christian Aleman and Lila Lehtola rounded out the top five.

Seattle big climb March 26


One of the biggest and toughest events in the country, the Seattle big climb draws about 6,000 climbers total.  With it’s competitive and noncompetitive staircases, still over 2,750 athletes executed timed ascents to the top, and the local field was strong and deep.


This event is normally dominated by Shaun-Stephens Whale, who holds nearly all of the top 5 fastest ascents, but it was newcomer to the non-firefighter events who took the win. Former pro triathlete and active fireman Andrew Drobeck pulled out the win with a 7:10 ascent.  Shaun was close behind with a 7:13, and powerhouse Tristan Roth was third with an 8:01.  


On the women’s side, Olivia Yetter was first with a 9:33.  Shon Deen was second with a 9:41, and Katy Gillingham with third with a 10:09.


With 44 athletes coming in under the bonus cutoff if 9:45, the race earned the maximum bonus of 100 points, making it one of the highest-scoring US events.  

Notable performances:


  • Fight for air indianapolis; congratulations to Syd Srak for winning overall with 7 climbs!