A Workout For the Record Books

This past Saturday, I did something that I’ve never done before. I’ve never even come close to accomplishing what I did on Saturday. It was a record-shattering workout, in more ways than one!

On Saturday, I completed a six-hour, 15.7-mile urban hike throughout Silver Lake that involved 42 staircases and 4,314 steps. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, I’m still sore. And yes, it was awesome.

Here’s just one of the staircases – we climbed 42 of these bad boys:


The hike was organized by a group of stair-climb enthusiasts that plan events using Meetup.com. The group has been active for a few years, but I recently joined it, on a whim, a few months ago. This is the first event I’ve attended.

This event was in honor of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who walked away from his multi-million-dollar contract after 9/11 and enlisted in the Army, only to be killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Pat wore #42 when he played football in college, so the organizers planned a route with 42 staircases. While I’m thankful for Tillman’s service, I signed up for the challenge.

We met up at the Silver Lake branch of the library, and headed off into the neighborhoods around us. Silver Lake is a very hilly part of Los Angeles with windy streets surrounding a reservoir. When the area started getting developed 80 or so years ago, city planners and developers built dozens of staircases into the hills, so residents had more direct access to public transportation and shopping, without having to take circuitous routes down the winding roads.

I’ve written about these stairways before, because I think they’re fascinating and totally unique – and they’re challenging and free places to exercise! I used the St. Andrews Stairway in Hollywood to train for a stair race last year. I’ve trained on the Music Box Steps, which were used to film a classic Laurel and Hardy movie. And I tracked down a stairway recently featured on a now-cancelled sitcom during one of my workouts. If I lived in Silver Lake, I’d exercise on these stairways all the time!

There was a couple dozen of us hiking through the streets and up and down these stairways. Tony, another hiker, had printed the route, which was calculated to be 14 miles:


(The blue dots aren’t staircases, they’re mile markers).

I met a bunch of very friendly folks on the hike, and knew one guy going in: my buddy Mark, who came up from Orange County to do the hike.  After about an hour of hiking, we got a text from our friend Madeleine, who lives in Silver Lake, asking where we were. She was training on a nearby staircase, and minutes later, she caught up with us and joined in. Here’s Mark and I at the top of one of the staircases:


And here’s me and Madeleine on the stairs between Hoover and Prospect Streets:


Someone had painted a gorgeous and bright mural on this stairway. This photo does it better justice:


The hike was HARD. There was hardly a block that didn’t have an elevation change of some sort, including some incredibly big and steep hills we walked up or down. I could feel the burn throughout my legs after a few hours in, and by the time we stopped for a 1/2 hour lunch break at the 9.5 mile mark, I was ready to sit down for a while.

The staircases added an additional challenge. Some of them were around 300 steps, and some barely had landings to catch your breath. Here’s a particularly pretty one, with the reservoir in the background:


In total, we traversed 4,314 steps.   We ascended 3,162 of them, and descended the other 1,152 (thanks to the organizers for providing the stair count!).

For the sake of reference, the skyscrapers downtown that I’ve raced up average about 22 steps per floor. Using that math, our hike contained the equivalent of climbing up a 144-story building, and climbing down a 52-story building.  AND 15.7 miles of hiking! (The route was calculated to be 14 miles, but two hikers tracked our route using GPS on their phones, and both phones showed that we went 15.7 miles.)

Even though it was a long and hard excursion – we started at 10:15am and I didn’t made it back to my car until a little after 4pm – it was fun being part of a group. I don’t think I would’ve finished had I had been by myself. Plus, it was a beautiful day, and there was great scenery: the reservoir, the downtown skyline, beautiful million-dollar-homes. We walked past the studios where “Grey’s Anatomy” and “General Hospital” are filmed. And I saw a house that had its own personal funicular!


(The funicular is the inclined railway leading to the front door – like an elevator up the side of the hill.)

Best of all, I shattered all sorts of personal records:

  • Longest Workout – 5.5 hours (excluding the 1/2 hour lunch break).
  • Longest Hike – 15.7 miles.
  • Most stairs climbed in one workout – 3,162.

Damn, that’s something to be proud of!

Keep it up, David!

12 Responses to A Workout For the Record Books

  1. Karon says:

    What an amazing work out. You are an amazing young man to have accomplished so much. I only wish I could be half as dedicated to losing weight as you are. Congrats on breaking all of those records!!!!

  2. Dot2Trot says:

    Wow, that looks amazingly hard. Congrats on setting a new personal best. I’m planning to get into stair climbing this spring.

  3. Honi says:

    Wow that is amazing… The record breaking is outstanding !!! Congrats!!!!

  4. Carol Hoerl says:

    Whoo Hoo, awesome,David!

  5. Bob in Seattle says:

    Great job David! You’re obviously an inspiration to many. Keep up the good work.

  6. Molly Jarrett says:

    You have really got to be in great shape to accomplish what you did….wow! I have never heard about the stairways and found the history very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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