As I’m recovering from the 2015 Tackle the Tower in Cleveland, Ohio I thought I’d take the opportunity to put together a few thoughts and on this great event that benefits the Ronald McDonald House. Before I even talk about my successes today, I want to talk about this gem of a climb and hopefully get a few more people motivated into the sport. Yes, I said sport because it truly is. If you’re new to this whole tower-climbing thing, take your “race” out, and put it UP. Take away the wind, rain, most light, humidity, and add dust, heat, and at the end the feeling that you will cough up a lung. Yes that’s stair climbing or tower climbing.
The Tackle the Tower is held annually in downtown Cleveland at the Erie Tower. I’ve now had the pleasure of climbing this one for the last two years and let me tell you, this one is a great event. I mean really, you’re benefitting the Ronald McDonald house…KIDS!!!! Come on. It’s a 37-floor climb with several options from the single race, to a fun walk, teams, firefighters, and mascots. Yes I said firefighters, so unless you’re new to my blog you realize that I not only climb in my gear, but I promote it and the competition amongst our brotherhood quite frequently. Gather some guys from your firehouse, maybe neighboring ones and come up. It’s a great time and probably one of the least crazy things we do.
Venue… It’s amazing, plain and simple the area at the galleria that they have to work with is HUGE. They host over 600 people at this event and honestly it feels like they have the space for twice as many. The whole lower level of the galleria has plenty of space to setup “camp” as I like to and move around. Restrooms that are close, and before you even get there…the PARKING for this across the street is cheap and plentiful! Once inside if you want to warm up, sure you can stretch wherever you are, but the upper level has plenty of space to jog and get ready. By plenty of space I mean that I know fitness centers with a running track that’s smaller.
Goodies… The shirts are heavyweight and not junk. The area for sponsors to come in and hand out goods was well stocked again, and let me tell you about food. They had fruit, bagels, granola bars, drinks of all sorts, and bags to tote it all back to “camp” if you were hitting it pre-climb. You NEED to stop here and get something! In the goodie area, at least the last two years has been a hidden gem for AFTER the climb. Smyle’s Touch, LLC has tables and a massage chair setup as well to work out that post climb pain discomfort. Never had a massage after a race or climb before? Don’t miss out on this.
The start… The starting line for this event is not in the galleria, but at the far end of it, so it actually aids the flowpath for finishers and those headed to the starting line. Again, the venue really helps make this work well. This climb is not done with timing chips or RFID tags on the race bib as many of the newer races so knowing your start time offset is important. They line you up in numerical order at the start and its important to be there before your flight time. I repeat…its IMPORTANT to be there BEFORE your time. If they tell you you will start nine minutes OFFSET from the beginning of the race and it begins at 9:00am that means at 9:09 you already need to be lined up. It moves quickly
The climb…I don’t know that the actual climb could be called “fun” because honestly if you can walk away without being drenched, you didn’t do it hard enough. This tower however is a fun one. From the starting line you have a long ascent followed by an interesting clockwise climb. Where the stairwells I have raced elsewhere you climb, hit a landing, and repeat. At this tower there are many shorter sets of 4-5 stairs instead of a landing. The ability to swing these and skip a few steps keeps you moving. I like it, it’s a change and something different to mix it up and make it not just another monotonous tower. Up the tower there are several water stations and plenty of motivational signs to keep you into it. The finish comes up quickly and spits you out into a narrow hall where water, volunteers, and paramedics are waiting. It’s a little tight, but there are plenty of elevators to take back down.
The people…you will meet some of the nicest people at races, climbs, and competitions. Show up with fire gear and you can multiply that by 100 as they are curious about your gear, why you do it, and to check out what you use. It’s a great opportunity to talk to kids and even educate public even more. Event coordinators and those volunteering and running this event were great to work with and had answers when I needed them.
I can’t say enough about this event and how much I enjoy it as a close race to attend. If you’re looking to try one out and see if it’s for you, the entry fees aren’t bad and I think you will love it. You can check out my video from the 2014 climb here on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zVFHssUw2M Whatever you’re doing out there, enjoy yourself, have fun with it, and make a difference!