The biggest fitness challenge of my life is over. A couple weeks ago, I completed my #40years40races challenge. It wore me down, and wore me out, but I am so incredibly proud. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it. I raced more in 2019 than I did in 2018 and 2017 combined. In fact, 1/3rd of all the races I’ve done in my adult life (since 2011) were raced as part of this challenge. I’ve done things I’ve never done before, and set all sorts of personal records. Plus, I finished my challenge on November 23rd, with over a month to spare before the end of the year!
Those are all the medals I earned this year. 31 of them! (Not every race has medals.) They look even better all spread out on the table.
I also saved all 40 of my bibs. They couldn’t all fit on the bulletin board, so I had to split them into two groups.
In addition to saving all my medals and bibs, I nerded out by compiling all sorts of data and statistics. I created a freakin’ spreadsheet! And this is the post where I’m going to share it all! It’s taken me nearly two weeks to put this post together, but it’s totally worth it.
Before I start this deep-dive into the numbers, I realize that I never blogged about one of my races. It slipped through the cracks. It was my 37th race of the year, the Michigan Monster Dash 10K, on Saturday, October 26, 2019.
I was in a really bad place that morning. I was recovering from a pulled muscle, was sore and achy, in no mood to race, and it was pretty chilly out. But there was no way I was going to skip it, because this was the last run on my calendar, and once I got through this, I’d be done with running and could focus on the three stair races that were left.
The race was at Kensington Metropark, a huge park about a half hour away, and I was grumpy and miserable the entire race. I tried to focus on the positive: how close I was to finishing the challenge, how lucky I was to be running through the gorgeous autumn colors.
The happiest part of my morning, by far, was crossing the finish line. I wouldn’t have to run for the rest of the year. That was it. And here’s a fun fact: I just found out, as I was writing this post, that I actually finished first in my age group! (Out of two.) I left before the medals ceremony that day, so I don’t know if they gave out age group medals.
I finished the Michigan Monster Dash 10K in 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 14 seconds.
Ready for some #40years40races stats?
As a reminder, this challenge was to compete in 40 races in 2019, in honor of my 40th birthday, which was in March. This is more than double what I’ve done in any year previously, besting the 18 races I did in 2017, and the 16 I did in both 2016 and 2018.
I added up my times from all 40 events, and this year I spent a total of 37 hours, 36 minutes, and 47 seconds racing. That’s over a day and a half!
I raced in nine different US states this year (Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio) and one Canadian province (Ontario).
The 40 races can be broken down like this: I did 12 stair races, 25 running races, and 3 hybrid races that combined stairs and running.
Let’s start with the stair races!
Stairs are my favorite. If I could’ve done 40 stair races this year, I would’ve. But these races are less common, and most require travel, so between my schedule and my wallet, I had to limit it. As already mentioned, I competed in 12 stair races, and 3 races that were stair/running hybrids. To break that down even further:
- 9 were in skyscrapers
- 2 were in stadiums
- 4 were on hillside stairways (this includes all 3 of the hybrid races)
Add these 15 races in with all my previous stair races, and I’ve done 81 stair races since 2012!
I keep a running tally of the total number of cities where I’ve done stair races. At the start of 2019, that number was 20. It’s now 30 because, this year, I added ten new cities to that list:
- Salt Lake City
- South Bend
- Rochester Hills
- Grand Rapids
- Iron Mountain
Because of all the new cities, I had to draw a new map of everywhere that I’ve raced on stairs! Click it to see it bigger.
Here are all the skyscrapers I’ve raced up this year. Click it to see it bigger.
From left to right, we have 2000 Town Center (Southfield, MI), One Cleveland Center (Cleveland, OH), Willis Tower (Chicago, IL), Stratosphere (Las Vegas, NV), Reunion Tower (Dallas, TX), CN Tower (Toronto, Canada), 100 W King St (Hamilton, Canada), and Wells Fargo Center (Salt Lake City, UT).
What’s that? There’s only 8 skyscrapers pictured, but you read earlier that I did 9 skyscraper races? That’s because I did two races in the same building, on the same day, in Cleveland!
Are you sitting down?
- In four of the nine skyscraper races, I raced up the building once. The other five races involved multiple climbs. The total number of times I raced up a building in 2019 is… 56 times!
- The total number of stories I raced up in these buildings is… 2,021 stories. That’s approximately five vertical miles!
- The total number of steps I raced up in those building is… 40,929 steps!
- In addition to the skyscrapers, I did the two stadium races (in Chicago and South Bend) and the four hillside races – all of which had lots of steps that weren’t organized into stories. Add those step counts in, though, and my grand total for the year rises to 54,913!
Let’s talk stair race personal records:
- Three of the stair races were events that I’ve done before, and I didn’t set a PR at any of them. I’m not sweating it.
- I set multiple personal records at the Outclimb Cancer Challenge in Salt Lake City: Longest time climbing stairs (six hours); most floors climbed in one day (624), and most steps climbed in one day (15,444).
- I also earned, this year, my first-ever podium finishes at a stair race: 3rd place in my age group at the Steeltown Stair Climb, and 1st place (!) in my age group at the Gift of Adoption Michigan Stair Climb.
Now it’s time to focus on the running races:
I’m really proud of the 25 runs I did this year, because, truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of running. I do a handful of running races every year, because they’re good exercise, or to check out interesting, unique, or challenging courses, but I don’t get the same high from running that I do from racing up stairs.
This challenge, though, pushed me out of my comfort zone. There were some months where I did running races multiple weekends in a row, or even two in one weekend. While I may not ever do 25 running races in one year ever again, I’m thankful that these races helped get me to my goal. I’m also grateful for some incredible, unforgettable memories that these races provided, like running up a ski jump during the Red Bull 400, racing through a corn maze, and being passed by an Emmy winner during the Miles of Music 5K.
Of the 25 running races I completed, 11 were 5Ks, 10 were 10Ks, and 4 were other, non-conventional distances. Add in the three running/stairs hybrid races, and that’s 28 races that involved a whole lot of running.
- For comparison’s sake, in 2017 I did five running races, the most of any year prior to this challenge. I did over five times that this year.
- Add up the total distance I ran, in all races, and it’s 125.15 miles. WHOA! That’s 201.4 kilometers! That’s slightly more than the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego! (My previous highest total distance, in 2017, was 27.5 miles.)
That brings us to running PRs:
I started this challenge with two running goals: to set new personal records in the 5K and 10K distances.
- I accomplished one of those goals, setting a new PR in the 5K, when I finished the Cedar Point Run & Ride 5K in 28 minutes, 24 seconds in June. (My previous PR was 29:15.)
- My current 10K PR is 59:06, and it’s from 2011. The closest I came to that time this year was at the Run Michigan Cheap Northville race, where I finished in 1:00:02 – 56 seconds off. I’m not beating myself up about this, though, because I ended up setting some other personal records that I’m super happy about.
- I set two new personal records at the Mt. Baldhead Challenge in September: the longest distance I’ve ever run (7.5 miles), and the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent running (1:30:37).
Lastly, I achieved my first-ever podium finishes at running races this year:
- 2nd place in my age group at the Upland Hills School – Over the Hills and Through the Woods 10K – my first AG medal ever!
- 1st place in my age group at the aforementioned Michigan Monster Dash 10K.
- 1st place in my age group at the Heart of Oak 5K – they didn’t give out medals, though.
Phew! All these statistics are exhausting! Thank you for hanging in through this long, detailed post. Keep scrolling down, if you’d like, to find a complete list of all 40 races from this challenge, with links to more information about all of them.
Don’t want to check out that list? That’s fine. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve devoted more than enough time to me and my challenge. I’ll wrap this up, although I did want to share one final thought before you close this tab on your browser.
If you’re still here, reading this, I want you to remember one thing: AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU PUSH YOURSELF. This challenge is proof. Take some time and think about what you want, and where you want to be in one month, six months, or a year. Figure out what’s going to challenge you, and set a goal. Start small, but think big. Don’t give up on yourself, work hard, and never forget that you’re worth it, every single step along the way.
As for me, I’ve begun researching races for 2020. I started a new spreadsheet! This year’s goal was quantity-based, but next year’s goal will be experience-based, and I’ll share more about that in due time. Looking back, in posts like this one, is important, because celebrating success is a vital part of goal setting. But I love looking forward even more, because the future is wide open, full of possibility, and brimming with the opportunity to accomplish things that, right now, seem distant, unreachable, or downright insane. This challenge may have worn me out, but soon, I will be ready for more.
Keep it up, David!
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My 2019 #40years40races Races!
1) Dallas Vert Mile. 1/13/19, Dallas, Texas. Stair race, 550 stories. Read more here.
2) Winter Fun 10K. 1/20/19, Long Beach, CA. Time: 1:06:39. Read more here.
3) Beverly Hills 10K & Fitness Blast. 1/27/19, Beverly Hills, CA. Time: 1:04:02. Read more here.
4) Surf City 5K. 2/3/19, Huntington Beach, CA. Time: 30:24. Read more here.
5) Valentine’s Day 10K. 2/9/19, Encino, CA. Time: 1:03:52. Read more here. (Note: due to a poorly marked course, I ran 6.4 miles instead of 6.2. I crossed the finish line in 1:06:02.)
6) Miles of Music 5K. 2/17/19, Los Angeles, CA. Time: 28:22. Read more here. (Note: Not a PR because I’m fairly certain the course was shorter than a 5K.)
7) Scale the Strat. 2/24/19, Las Vegas, NV. Stair race, 108 stories. Time: 14:42. Read more here.
8) OutClimb Cancer Challenge. 3/2/19, Salt Lake City, UT. Stair race, 6 hours, 1.9 vertical miles. Read more here.
9) The Enormous Elephant Run 5K. 3/9/19, Los Angeles, CA. Time: 33:47. Read more here.
10) Fox Trot 5K. 3/10/19, Los Angeles, CA. Time: 33:07. (Note: I ran 3.23 miles, instead of 3.1, for the reasons outlined here.)
11) Sunrise Marathon (5K). 3/23/19, Novato, CA. Time: 33:18. (Another race where, because it was poorly marked, I ran 3.25 miles instead of 3.1.) Read more here.
12) Fehringer Ranch Race (3 miles). 3/31/19, Morrison, CO. Time: 30:19. I ran with JJ – his fourth race! Read more here.
13) Run Michigan Cheap – Northville Edition 10K. 4/7/19, Northville, MI. Time: 1:00:20. Read more here.
14) CN Tower Climb for Nature. 4/14/19, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Stair race, 144 flights. Time: 19:12. Read more here.
15) Milford Easter Dash 10K. 4/20/19, Milford, MI. Time: 1:05:35. Read more here.
16) Storm the Stadium. 4/27/19, South Bend, IN. Stadium stair race. Time: 36:41. Read more here.
17) Upland Hills School – Over the Hills and Through the Woods 10K. 5/4/19, Lake Orion, MI. Time: 1:10:48. Read more here.
18) Red Bull 400 Copper Peak. 5/11/19, Ironwood, MI. 400m uphill run, up a ski jump. Time: 12:39. Read more here.
19) Groves High School Orchestra Forte 5K. 5/19/19, Beverly Hills, MI. Time: 29:18. Read more here.
20) Ridge Run 10K. 5/27/19, Chicago, IL. Time: 1:03:39. Read more here.
21) Cedar Point Run & Ride 5K. 6/8/19, Sandusky, OH. Time: 28:24 – a new PR by 51 seconds! Read more here.
22) Tunnel to Towers Cleveland Tower Climb – Power Hour. 6/9/19, Cleveland, OH. Time: 60 minutes, during which I climbed 169 stories. Read more here.
23) Tunnel to Towers Cleveland Tower Climb – 100 Floor Challenge. 6/9/19, Cleveland, OH. Time: 29:56.7 (including elevator time). Read more here.
24) Run for the Ribbon 5K. 6/16/19, Royal Oak, MI. Time: 29:02 – my 2nd-fastest 5K time ever! Read more here.
25) Flushing Evening Road Race 5K. 6/19/19, Flushing, MI. Time: 32:25. My fifth race with JJ! Read more here.
26) What the Hill? 6/23/19, Rochester Hills, MI. A 5.3-mile trail race (plus 144 steps). Time: 1:18:10. Read more here.
27) The Inclinator. 7/13/19, Grand Rapids, MI. A 36x up and down the Stairs on Division. Time: 2:48:00. Read more here.
28) Give & Get Fit 10K. 7/28/10, Detroit, MI. Time: 1:03:30. Read more here.
29) Pine Mountain 500. 8/4/19, Iron Mountain, MI. Time: 29:21. 2.8-mile run that ended with a 500-step stair climb. Read more here.
30) Run Thru Hell. 4.8 miles. 8/10/19, Hell, MI. Time: 47:27. Read more here.
31) Crim Festival of Races. 5 miles. 8/24/19, Flint, MI. Time: 48:07. Read more here.
32) Mount Baldhead Challenge. 7.5 miles running, plus 302 steps. 9/7/19, Saugatuck, MI. I broke two personal records during this race! Read more here.
33) Heart of Oak 5K. 9/15/19, Bloomfield Hills, MI. Race time: 33:00. Total time: 59 minutes. My first race with my dad! Read more here.
34) CF Climb Chicago. 9/22/19. 4,400 stairs at Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago IL. Time: 29:43. Read more here.
35) Fox Hills Moonlight Run 10K. 9/29/19, Plymouth, MI. Time: 1:02:56. Read more here.
36) Corn Maze 5K. 10/13/19, Spring Grove, IL. Time: 30:38. Read more here.
37) Michigan Monster Dash 10K. 10/26/19, Milford, MI. Time: 1:02:14. Read more above.
38) SkyRise Chicago. 11/3/19, Chicago, IL. Stair race, up 105 stories in Willis Tower. Time: 32:57. Read more here.
39) Steeltown Stair Climb. 11/9/19, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Stair race, up 25 stories. Time: 4:52. Read more here.
40) Gift of Adoption Michigan Stair Climb – Power Hour. 11/23/19, Southfield, MI. Time: 60 minutes, during which I climbed 196 stories. Read more here.