Stair Masters

Take a deep breath — and be thankful for that breath this morning before racing up 56 floors in the stairwell of Republic Plaza, the tallest building in Denver.

“The Anthem Fight for Air Climb is one of our most popular special events each year,” says Liz Toohey, event coordinator for the American Lung Association’s Colorado chapter, which hosts the stair race. “We get everyone from elite racers who can make it to the top in under seven minutes to people climbing for an hour with oxygen tanks on their backs. And because it’s an indoor event, there’s tremendous energy — and noise — rattling around in that stairway. It’s quite inspiring.”

Colorado has plenty of elite athletes with healthy lungs, and the state scored high marks on the ALA’s 2010 State of Tobacco Control report for its smoke-free air law that governs indoor public spaces. But we still have some work to do, Toohey says, after earning a D for our low tax rate on cigarettes and an F for slashing state funding for tobacco-control programs by more than 73 percent over the past two years.

“A lot of the funding we once got from the state for these programs just isn’t there anymore,” Toohey says. “So the money we raise from these special events is more critical than ever. This year, our goal is to raise $434,000.”

The race starts at 8 a.m. at Republic Plaza, 370 17th Street, with climbers starting in eight-second intervals. Registration is $35, plus a minimum pledge of $56. For more information, go to
Sun., Feb. 27, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., 2011