The Empire State Building Run-Up is a test of perseverance up 1,576 stairs in one of the world’s most recognized skyscrapers.

The race begins in the lobby of the Empire State Building before the participants climb the roughly quarter-mile above Fifth Avenue. Elite athletes finish the 86-story climb in around 10 to 11 minutes.

“They let you go in bursts of people,” said Nate Poulin, who participated in the race last year, reaching the balcony of the Empire State Building in 28 minutes, 10 seconds.

Once runners reach the top of the building, they spend a brief moment outside before hustling back into the warmth of the observation floor, Poulin said. The race begins at 8 p.m. on a winter night in New York, and the balcony is a shock to the system after the hot, airless stairwell.

“Once you get to the top, you immediately want to get inside,” Poulin said. “The view is great, but the temperature change is such a shocking thing.”

Participants take the elevator back down to the Empire Room, a swanky restaurant on the bottom floor that the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation uses to host the reception, Poulin said. Honorary medals are handed out to the participants and awards for the fastest times and most money raised were given. Members of the foundation and people living with multiple myeloma speak to the participants and their loved ones.


Besides joining up with his wife at the reception, Poulin said he looks forward to a couple cold beverages.

“When you finish, the first thing you want after some water is a beer,” Poulin said.

There are several ways to enter the climb; however, space is limited. There’s an invitational group made up of past winners, world-class stair climb racers, media members and the Empire State Building Brokers’ Challenge. Those who want to participate can register, but the entries are selected through a drawing. The other two ways are through joining the MMRF charity or Team for Kids, a New York-based foundation that supports the city’s health and fitness programs for children with little access to regular physical activity.

Last year, Poulin contacted the MMRF to see what he needed to do to participate in the climb.

“You sign up with the foundation and they get to know you for a little bit, you make the case for raising money,” Poulin said. “I basically said, ‘What do I have to do to give to this cause?’ They told me they had a spot open if I could raise $2,500.”

Poulin signed up in October for the February race and raised $3,300 for MMRF.

After teaming up with his sister and brother-in-law, who had started raising money for myeloma research in Maine with the organization ME Against Myeloma, the trio raised $10,000 for MMRF in 2013.

To help Poulin raise money for the charity, donate at his race donation page.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.