Climbing up the ranks

About a month ago I discovered the existence of the United States Amateur Stair Climbing Rankings.

Which also means about a month ago I discovered I was ranked as a stair climber.

Basically all it did was reassure me that I am NOT an elite climber. At the time, I was ranked around 1,000th in the country among approximately 14,000+ men. Good. But not great. Stephanie, on the other hand, was ranked somewhere around the 300s or 400s among 16,000+ women.


In the time since I discovered those rankings, the race database has been updated to include not only the Minneapolis race we completed earlier this month, but also a November race in Milwaukee that apparently previously wasn’t included in the race results database. So, with those now included, our standings among all who’ve participated in races is even higher.

Currently I am now the 394th highest ranked male stair climber in the United States (out of 13,344 total men). Not too shabby, I’d say. Stephanie, on the other hand, now ranks 98th out of 15,149 women.


(Even though she’s better among the competition in her gender than I am, my times — FOR THE MOMENT — are technically still faster than hers. This is my blog, after all, so I’m taking the liberty to point that out. But it might not be the case for long. Her race paces are starting to catch up to mine. Again: SHE’S A BEAST.)

In the time since I discovered these rankings, I’ve also learned a little more about the them.

Basically, how it works is each race is worth a certain amount of points (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, or 400). Then, points are dispersed to participants based on what place they finish. The first place finisher in a 200 point race, for example, would receive 200 points. Each finisher after that gets a scaled-down point total based on some mathematical formula. In this case, second place gets 208.33, third gets 178.57, and so on. Likewise, first place in a 50 point race receives 50 points, second gets 41.67, etc.

From there, a person’s rank is determined by adding up the point totals of up to five races they’ve competed in. If someone’s competed in more than five stair races, then only the five races they earned their highest point totals in will count. And, as far as I can tell, only the races within the last year’s race cycle are counted.

So while both mine and Stephanie’s ranks are good, we still have a few things we can do to move up the rankings even more:

* Participate in more races: So far, we’ve filled up only four of the five slots that can count toward our ranks. We’re basically giving away points right now. As soon as we complete our next race, we’ll each fill our missing slot with whatever points we get from that race and move up automatically.

* Participate in races worth more points: As it stands, of the four races we’ve raced in over the past 11 months, three are worth only 50 points while one (the Sears Tower) was worth 300. Competing in higher point races gives you an automatic advantage in the rankings, as lower finishes in those are worth more points than higher finishes in low-point races. Case in point: Stephanie has two 2nd place women’s finishes under her belt in 50 point races, which counted for 41.67 points each. Her 27th place female finish at the Sears Tower netted her 48.39 points.

(Upon our realization of this, we took note that our remaining races this winter/spring had point totals of 50, 50, and 200. We then quickly added another 200-point race to our calendar. It happens to be a four-tower race at Chicago’s Presidential Towers the very next day after our Indianapolis race. So we’re sort of just hitting it on the way home, really. I’ve never done a multi-tower race, or even done a “power hour” at a solo tower race, so this, plus the fact I’ve never competed in any type/s of multiple races — regular running included — in back-to-back days before, could be a bad idea. But even if I don’t do as well as I could in Chicago, at least I still have a chance at bettering my ranking simply because this is a higher point race. By the end of spring, our rankings should reflect our totals from races worth 300, 200, 200, and then two each of the four 50-point races we’ll have under our belts in the last race cycle.)

* Get better at stair climbing: You can give yourself the advantages of participating in a lot of races and high-point races all you want, but when it comes down to it, there’s no better way to move up the charts than by simply getting stronger and faster. I’ve seen how good some of the top stair climbers are. There’s one guy I’ve seen past years’ results for, Eric Leninger, whose only three races within the current tower race cycle have come since the start of the year. He won all three races, so he’s ranked 23rd among all men. That’s what I mean by there not being any better way to move up than by simply being good. I’m not there. But I’ll keep training hard and eating well just to be as good as I can.

All in all, I really like this idea of rankings. It’s not something that can be done anywhere near as easily with running, as there are thousands and thousands of different footraces of varying varieties. However, there are only a couple hundred stair climbs throughout the country each year. And while the stair climbing powers-that-be don’t have the resources and manpower to track every single race (despite their best efforts to), they include an overwhelming majority of tower races, as it’s still much easier to track.

I also like the rankings because they allow me to strive for specific rankings as goal markers. Stephanie, too. She’s got top 50 in her sights right now. I’m just thinking top 250 after our next weekend of races for me, with maybe top 100 by the end of the entire spring portion of the season? We’ll see!


One comment

  1. i find this really interesting. i had no idea that stair climbing… as racing… was even a thing until i found your blog.

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