2011 Big Climb Race Results

The Columbia Tower race in Seattle this year was host to a real “Who’s Who” among world class tower runners. Sean Stephens-Whale ended up winning it again for the X Gym team and for his third straight year, breaking his own course record from last year. The next X Gym runner, Kevin Crossman, placed second, followed by another X Gym team member, Jesse Berg, who placed 3rd and then followed closely by the next X Gym runner, Tim Van Orden, who took 4th overall. John Osborn and Brian Crossman also made it in the top 10 overall, to give the X Gym 6 of the top 10 fastest times among 3,315 racers – the largest turnout of any stair race on the planet.

The X Gym women also smoked it with 4 in the top 10, namely Kourtney Dexter, who beat her own course record, Sandra Nunez and Kacie Fisher, all finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall for women. Sheila Klein also made it in the top 10 overall, and I should also mention/brag that she’s 52 years young! Yep, X Gymers don’t seem to age either…

This race always seems to thrash me more than any other. I’m not sure if it’s the steep pitch, the cement stairs, or what, but it’s brutal. I could barely squeak out 16th place overall, but even if I had tied my best time on this course, I still would have only placed 10th. Oh well, I’ll keep plugging away and training for next year.

As you may know, I experiment with a different training routine every race. This makes some of my times slow and some fast, depending on how that experiment went, but this time it was a so-so result. I was about 20 seconds slower than my best, so it obviously didn’t work as well as my experiment two years ago, but now I know, right? I’m asked all the time, “Why don’t you just stick with what you know works?” My answer is, I just can’t help it. Yes, I know what works, and I could train like that for every race, but I’m a scientist and it’s more fun to experiment. Besides, I would get too bored doing the same thing every time. I’ve got ADD.

I was the most happy to have the X Gym team win again, setting a new team course record thanks to Sean, Kevin and Jesse AND the new male and female course records thanks to Sean and Kourtney. It turned out to be another total domination by X Gym with fastest male, fastest female, fastest team and most of the top ten and lots of age group winners to boot. Yep, God really likes us.

I am also proud that we raised over $10,000 as a team! Special thanks to Stacey Mertes, our “poster child” and leukemia survivor, who combined her team from last year with our team this year to focus efforts on raising money for this worthy cause. Her son Logan, was the fastest 6 year old up the tower this year, and her parents Lou and Nicole tore it up in the 60 and 70 age groups! Shirley, our team matriarch, who is 81 years young, also tore it up, just like she did last year.

Special thanks to Andi Barber, who took the reins from the legendary Wilma Comenat this year, as the new head of this massive event. Andi did an amazing job and everything went as smoothly as it could. No race I have participated in is better run than this one and that says a lot, especially since this is the largest climb on the planet with over 8,000 participants, between the firefighter climb, the racers and the non-timed climbers!

For the full list of the 2011 Big Climb results, click here.

Video coming soon!