- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

Some people will do anything to get out of cold weather.
Even running up a million stairs to the top of a skyscraper.
Stair racing has become quite a participatory sport. Coming up in the next week and a half are stair races up the 86-story Empire State Building in Manhattan and a 30-story office building in Rosslyn.
For those looking for severe challenges, sign up for both. The Empire State race is Feb.#4, the Rosslyn event the following day.
Believe it or not, these events have been around for years, and you can find them all over the world. The Empire State Building race is in its 26th year. And there is a stair climb in Arizona that began 64 years ago.
It is part of the Miami Boomtown Spree, an annual event in April. This former copper mining town was started in 1909 and became home to more than 10,000 miners and their families. In 1939, the first Boomtown Spree was held but it died out later when many of the copper mines closed. The Spree was revived in 1990 and again has turned into an annual festival.
The festival includes the Keystone Stair Climb Race, a timed run up 150 steps to the copper mine on Keystone Avenue, over the same old stairs used by miners.
Though the Empire State Building climb is one of the oldest, it is not the longest. That distinction goes to the CN Tower Climb in Toronto, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The race has 1,776 steps to the Empire State's 1,576. CN, with 88,000 completions in its history, calls its course the tallest staircase in the world.
Overseas climbs can be found in places like London and Sydney. Around the world, climbs take place up stairwells in buildings, on steps leading up mountains and even on concrete at stadiums, such as the 22nd annual Cystic Fibrosis Stair Climb at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix.
A number of these climbs, like the one in Phoenix, benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The sponsor of the Empire State Building is Fleet Bank. It seems like most of these stair climbs are sponsored by banks or other financial institutions, such as Capital One's support of the Rosslyn event.
Mascot mayhem
USA Track & Field unveiled its mascot last year, which many of the sport's fans recognized as a hand-me-down from the NBA. USATF still has not given it a name.
That problem was supposed to be resolved Jan.#21, but the competition was too close to call. "Spike" and "Tailwind" were the leaders at the wire, with "False Start" the overwhelming favorite in the "just for fun" division.
Some 4,000 online votes were counted, and now there is a runoff among the final three names. If you go watch the opening act of the Golden Spike Tour at the Boston Indoor Games on Saturday, you'll hear first-hand which name is picked.
Pray it is not "False Start."
You can exercise your right to vote at www.usatf.org.
Better payouts
Indoor track and field continues to make a comeback in America, due in no small part to the Boston Indoor Games. In its seven-year history, the meet has paid out $140,000 in prize money.
On Saturday, a world record will be worth $25,000 in bonus money and an American record another $10,000. The meet has seen eight world or American records.
The men's 1,500 meters is particularly vulnerable this year, with Kenyans Bernard Lagat and Laban Rotich going for the world record while David Krummenacker, who last year broke the American 1,000-meter record here, will be aiming for Jeff Atkinson's U.S. record of 3:38.12.
Krummenacker will do it; he ran 3:31.91 outdoors last summer.


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