Do you have what it takes to reach the top...of the US Bank Tower?

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Calling all uber-fitness buffs: Need a new challenge?

Try the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA Stair Climb to the Top, the annual event happening Sept. 25 that guarantees to test the mettle of even the toughest competitors. Think you have what it takes? Here’s what you’ll be up against: racing up 75 stories (that’s 1,500 steps) to 1,108 feet in the US Bank Tower (some may know it as the Library Tower) in downtown Los Angeles. The building is the tallest west of the Mississippi and the record time to beat is 9:28, as in under 10 minutes. Elite climbers can do it in 13 minutes or less.

Still with us? The event is also a fundraiser for the community programs of the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA and about 2,000 people are expected to show up. In its 16th year, the climb has become quite the happening, with racers in good spirits as they meet and greet before and after the race.

But we all know that it’s really about the T-shirt, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It reads: ‘Elevators are for wimps,’ which pretty much sums it up. Pre-registration closes Sept. 21, but you can register the day of the climb (the website has more details).

While being in shape is an obvious prerequisite, it also helps to have done some actual stairs before tackling the tower, says Mario Valenzuela, lead wellness coach at the Y.


‘Stair climber machines are good,’ he says, ‘but this is different. It gets hot in there, and as you get higher the air gets thinner and it’s harder to breathe.’ Valenzuela adds it’s not too late to join his twice-weekly training group, which has been practicing in the 55-story Wells Fargo Center. Training tips are also available on the event website.

This is really about finding your pace, he says, so don’t worry about walking part of the race or even stopping to take a breather. ‘Doing this is an accomplishment,’ he says. ‘And the view when you reach the top is amazing.’

-- Jeannine Stein