I am late in posting this recap, but two weeks ago I participated in an extraordinary event, the San Diego 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb. It took place just days before September 11, and was a very poignant day.
I have been wanting to do a stair climb event for quite a while, but there just aren't any in San Diego, at least not that I've heard of or been able to find by searching online. I know other cities (New York, Chicago, etc) have stair climb races, but not here. Coincidentally, about a month ago a friend on mine posted on Facebook about this event in San Diego, with a discount available on a deal through Living Social. I bought it immediately, as not only was I excited about a stair climbing event to do, but the cause was great---it honored the victims of 9/11 and raised money for FireFighterAid. I roped one of my best friends, Amanda, into signing up with me. Although I had a 5k the day before, I was looking forward to the challenge.
Amanda and I arrived early at the Hilton, in time to check in and get our t-shirts. The event was untimed, so there were no timing chips. And we didn't get bibs. Instead, each participant was given a lanyard with the name and picture of a fallen firefighter, police officer, or port authority officer who died on 9/11. I was given the name of a firefighter, Stephen Stiller. Seeing his name and picture made the whole thing very real for me. I realized that no matter how tired I got, I couldn't stop. I had to do the whole climb. After all, it was the least I could do in Stephen's memory.
|the hero I climbed for|
|this flag had every victim's name on it|
|a piece of one of the Towers|
Before the climb started, there was a ceremony. A choir sang the national anthem and God Bless America. Some other people spoke. One of the most amazing speeches was by Lt. Joe Torrillo, a firefighter with an amazing story. On 9/11, he was actually trapped under the rubble of Tower 1. He was rescued, and then trapped under the rubble of Tower 2. As a survivor, he has made it his life's mission to travel the country, making sure the words "never forget" and its meaning lives on. They even had some metal, some part of one of the towers that had been transported to San Diego. By the end of the ceremony, I was in tears and feeling very patriotic. I am very proud to be an American.
|a firefighter chopper made its way overhead|
|firemen about to start their climb|
When it was our turn to climb, we first had to touch a piece of metal that was part of the Towers, and then ring a bell and say the name of the person we were walking in honor of. Again, it hit me the enormity of what I was about to do, and helped me keep Stephen in my mind throughout the climb.
|the bell we had to ring, and the piece of metal we had to touch|
And then we started to climb! Amanda and I entered a side stairwell, along with other people in our wave, and began climbing the steps. There's not too much to write about here, except to say that the stairwell was hot. It was hot and humid with the sweat of all the climbers. Every ten flights or so would be volunteers passing out water bottles, which was much appreciated. The climb was not too hard. To be honest, I was expecting it to be painful, but it wasn't.
|oddly looking fresh as a daisy|
|one of the views on the stairwell|
At the end, neither of us were sore at all! I had packed my Stick to rub out our quads and calves if we needed to....but neither of us needed it. We left the event happy and full of patriotic pride. This is one event I really hope to do every single year from now on.