For a total departure from your typical 10K or trail run, move on up with one of these six vertical races. They give “taking the stairs” a whole new meaning, while skyrocketing your calorie burn and frying your quads and glutes. They each require you to scale a peak — whether you’re sprinting up the staircase of a famous skyscraper or climbing a ski slope. Your reward: Killer views and an even more killer workout. Bragging rights also await at the top.
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6 Vertical Races That Will Challenge Your Running Skills
1. Red Bull 400
When: September 30, 2017
Where: Park City, Utah
In the third annual running of this race, you’ll swap out steps for a ski jump in Utah Olympic Park. Running 400 meters might sound like an insignificant distance — but it’s a near completely vertical course. (If that sounds like too much, sign up for the 4×100 meter relay instead.) To make the ascent even tougher: Park City has an elevation of 6,870 feet right from the start. Scale to the top and you’re sure to feel on top of the world.
2. Base 2 Space
When: October 1, 2017
Where: Seattle, WA
Climb 52 stories (or 832 steps) up one of two intertwining, open-air stairwells in this sprint to the top of Seattle’s famous Space Needle. Hang out in the observation deck afterward — 520 feet above the ground — to soak up sights of the surrounding city. The event raises money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and if you’re one of the top fundraisers or first finishers, you could win the chance to walk the building’s Halo. Only a handful of people have done so since it opened in 1962.
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3. SkyRise Chicago
When: November 5, 2017
Where: Chicago, IL
For this late fall race, you’ll take on the world’s tallest indoor stair climb. Hoof it up the 103 floors (that’s 2,109 steps) of Chicago’s Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the western hemisphere. The view of the Windy City from up above is quite breathtaking — though you’ll probably already be breathless from the run to the top.
4. Empire State Building Run-Up
When: February 2018
Where: New York, NY
Earlier this year marked the 40th anniversary of this climb to the top of one of the most iconic buildings in the Big Apple. During the sprint, you’ll cover 1,576 stairs over 86 flights. Take some time at the top to give your lungs a breather, as you soak up the sights of Central Park and other Manhattan landmarks.
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5. Fight for Air Climb
When: April 14, 2018
Where: Los Angeles, CA
The American Lung Association sponsors many races to the top of skyscrapers across the country. This one, in the modernist Aon Center in downtown LA, involves running up 63 floors or 1,393 steps. Sign up with a team to raise money to help people with lung disease and you’ll feel even better about hitting your peak.
6. Denver CF Climb
When: July 2018
Where: Denver, CO
You can find stair races across the country that raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But take on this one, at Sports Authority Field in Denver, and you’ll hoof it up and down 3,865 steps inside the stadium. If fundraising for kids with CF weren’t inspiration enough, let fire fighters and police officers on the course put some pep in your step. The race has a whole entry category dedicated to first responders running in their full uniforms.
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