Klocke can’t be stopped in Cincinnati

Posted: February 18, 2015 in News
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Last Sunday saw stair climbers gathering at Cincinnati’s Carew Tower for its 10th ALA Fight For Air Climb (local news feature here). Along with raising funds for the American Lung Association, the popular event saw the crowning of a new champion in their Vertical Mile Challenge.

The Carew Tower in Cincinnati

The Carew Tower in Cincinnati

While close to 500 runners took to the 804 steps for a solitary climb at the event, there was a hardy crew of fifteen who settled in for the Vertical Mile challenge. This format saw runners doing ten and a bit consecutive climbs and descents, with Dan ‘The Dark Knight’ Klocke taking the win in an impressive 2:07:37, holding off a strong push from ‘Big’ John Dipuccio.

The win came as a big surprise for Klocke, who had done the mile challenge the previous eight years and usually finished in the middle of the pack. “I had never won this race before; in fact, I never thought I would. Toward the end of last year, I made some changes to my diet and lost about 10 pounds. In addition, I did more cross-training. I think it made me stronger all the way around but I still doubted that I would have the speed to compete” said Klocke. The athlete, from Cleves, Ohio took an incredible 16 minutes off his PB and held off stiff competition while taking victory. “Some of the previous winners were back, so I was only hoping to have my personal best, which was 2:23. And it feels incredible to be the winner. Since I thought it was out of my grasp, it is still sinking in that I won.”

The grueling format requires climbers to descend the 45 floors after each climb, with each contestant required to wear gloves because so many people had torn their hands on the railings in previous years. “I was actually passing someone on the way up, but he would pass me on the way down, It is pretty intense to fly down 45 flights when your legs are tired.”

With only a minute separating first and second place, over the course of a two hour race, it was evidently a closely fought contest. Despite this “The Dark Knight’ stayed solely focused on the task at hand. “It was interesting because I wasn’t sure how close it was. The climbers are started a minute apart from each other and I wasn’t sure where everyone started. The guy that I kept passing, commented that he thought I had a shot to win, but it was hard to know for sure. Even when it was finished, it took time for the results to be calculated because it was recorded manually.”

While of course the sweet taste of glory is rewarding, there is more to it than that for Dan Klocke. “The main reason I do this climb is to support the American Lung Association. The first year they had the stair climb (2005), it was just a one time up event and was fun, but over too quick. Then they added the Vertical Mile and I became hooked. Since that time, I was asked to be on a volunteer board for the ALA to help support the local cause. It has opened my eyes to all the great work they do and how much they need this fundraiser to keep the good work going.”

Dan is also hoping to break another personal goal with his fundraising. You can help him, and of course the ALA, by donating here.

Dan Klocke looking fresh after his win

Dan Klocke looking fresh after his win

In the single climb event, hometown boy Alan ‘The Hero’ Zaffiro (M55+) held off the precociously speedy sixteen year old Conor ‘The Middletown Flash’ McNult to take the win. The pair were the only ones on the day who clocked a sub-6 minute time. Erin ‘Maverick’ Pifer did her native Kentucky proud with a win in the women’s section, in a time of 6:50.

A gorgeous 10th anniversary medal

The event’s gorgeous 10th anniversary medal

Congratulations to everybody who took part. Keep climbing!!

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