Every year I compete and have placed in the top 5 climbing stairs of high rises, also know as a vertical road race. Anyone who has ever climbed stairs knows how challenging this can be. Why do I climb? Climbing skyscrapers is no different than battling the elements on a stalk for big game. It takes extreme muscular strength and endurance along with mental toughness to be competitive at these races. I am an athlete and a hardcore hunter who trains to hunt so that I can Hunt Strong. I train hard because you never know how you will be challenged on a hunt.
We will be Colorado bound in just over a week battling thin air at 9,000 to 12,000 feet high for trophy elk and mule deer. So climbing stairs is for sure part of my training regimen. The stair wells are not ventilated, nor do they ever get cleaned. They are filled with dust particles, mold, and who knows what else. Typically, after I climb these stairs, I develop an intense cough lasting for a few days. The American Lung Association runs these vertical road races and they title them “Fight For Air Climbs”, just to give you an idea.
A friend and I went down to the The Bank of America Building in Downtown Tampa, FL., which consists of 42 floors, 84 flights, 912 total steps, and is 577 feet high. This is the tallest building in Tampa and it is also where one of the “Fight For Air Climbs” is held. We completed three climbs with less than 10 minute breaks in between. To give you a better idea, three climbs equals 126 floors, 252 flights, 2,736 steps, and 1,731 feet high.
To challenge my body even more, I chose to climb with a weighted vest and a gas mask. Why? While on the hunt, I will always have a backpack loaded with gear, food,water, and not to mention my weapon. The reason for the mask is to restrict the amount of air being taken in training my body to perform efficiently with very little oxygen. This is exactly how I will feel on a spot and stalk at high altitudes. I also completed all three climbs using my only my legs because there are no side rails in the backcountry.
Was it tough? Absolutely, but completing this challenge gives me the confidence I need to take on the elements. My legs and lungs were burning, especially on the final climb. I will continue to train hard so that my upcoming hunt will be easy. Hunt Strong!