13 Fun Facts About The Empire State Building Run-Up

The Empire State Building Run-Up is the ultimate bucket-list race.

The Empire State Building Run-Up is the ultimate uphill race that doesn’t feature a single hill. Instead, runners climb to the top of the world’s most famous skyscraper, King Kong style. This gut-busting, lung-searing, quad-crushing race will mark its 41st anniversary tonight. The event is more than just a bucket list race–it’s a helluva climb in New York, New York, a helluva town.

Here are a few fun facts about the race:

  • 86: Flights of stairs runners must climb to reach the finish line on the building’s observation deck.
  • 1,576: Individual stairs covered in the race.
  • 1,050: Vertical distance climbed in the race in feet (approximately one-fifth of a mile).
  • 80: Degrees, in Fahrenheit, the dry and dusty stairwell can reach during the race, a stark contrast to outdoor temperatures in the low 30s.
  • 500: Number of athletes that participate in the race, 60 of whom get in through a lottery system. (More than 5,000 apply!)
  • 65: Degree angle of the climb. (For comparison, Filbert Street, one of San Francisco’s steepest roads, is 17.5 degrees; the Boston Marathon’s legendary Heartbreak Hill is a paltry 4.5 degrees.)
  • 0: Number of spectators to cheer on runners (there are, however, designated spotters on each floor’s landing willing to offer a “you’re almost there!”).
  • 60: Location (in flights) of the race’s sole water station.
  • 8: Number of wins by Suzy Walsham–the most of any runner, male or female, in the history of the race (Walsham will be going for a ninth win tonight).
  • 9:33: Men’s course record, set by Paul Crake in 2003.
  • 11:23: Women’s course record (Andrea Mayr, 2006).
  • 30: Approximate average time, in minutes, of all finishers.
  • 17: Number of races that join the Empire Stair Climb on the Tower Running World Tour, a racing circuit of “vertical sprints” that include races up the Eiffel Tower in France, the Taipei 101 skyscraper and the Stratosphere tower in Las Vegas.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect that there are 60 lottery slots available for athletes that wish to participate in the race. The article originally reported that all 500 participants get in through the lottery system.


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