Monday, November 11, 2013

Tallest Building in Wisconsin - Stair Climb

US Bank Tower, Milwaukee, WI - View from the bank hallway
On November 9 2013 I ran the stairs of the tallest building in Wisconsin. Before I detail the building and the run let me detail events leading up to this run. Once I year I take my son with a group of 40 Fathers and Sons on a "Boys Trip" to attend a BYU Football game and spend a few days exploring the city. The 2013 trip was the BYU vs Wisconsin game in Madison. 

This spring as I looked at the schedule I noticed there was a stair race the Thursday after I was already going to be there for the game. With my new job there was no way I was going to take an entire week off of work just to run the stairs. 

In March 2013 I decided to email the president of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Wisconsin who organizes the race. I told her my predicament and offered to pay the required $150 donation to her organization if she can get me in contact with the appropriate people at the building so I can coordinate my own stair run. She sent a short email response telling me she is sorry but she can't help me....not a good start.

I do understand that a lot of planning goes into these events and security in these buildings is tight so I decided my best option would be to show up when I got into town on Thursday the 7th, talk to security and see what I can make happen. 

The day before I flew out I was reading about the building and noticed Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball has his office in this building. To me that means even tighter security. When I entered the building I thought it was interesting that as I was at the security desk while Bud Selig himself walked out, entered the gift shop and bought some gum. Not wanting to bother him for a picture I decided to take a picture from outside the gift shop like a stalker. 

In achieving my goal of running the tallest building in each state I'm determined to do things the correct way by gaining approval by the building management. I know in many buildings access to the stairwell can actually be quite easy but I am determined to do it the right way. I will not detail all of the people I spoke to or exactly how I received approval but I will say that it took another day of me thinking there was NO chance of getting approval. Finally on my second to last day in Wisconsin I received a call that said I had approval and could do the run at 10:30 pm on Saturday night after the football game....YES!!
US Bank Tower at night
The game in Madison was amazing even though my team lost. I can see why Sports Illustrated ranked Madison as the #1 college sports town in the United States. 

After the game my 7 year old son and I drove 90 minutes to Milwaukee and met with security at 10:30 pm. I changed into some workout gear and was given a walkie talkie so when I reached the 41st floor I could call security to come escort me back down the elevator. 

My son at the last minute decided he wanted to run also, this would be his first stair climb ever! We entered the stairwell from the main floor then walked down to the basement level to start. Set the timer and we were off!

I ran up 6 floors and decided that this was a special run. I felt bad leaving my little son in the dust so I waited for him to catch up. I was proud to see he was pushing hard up the stairwell and using the rail to pull himself up and hug the inside of the steps....great form! 

This stairwell had two things I have not seen in any other buildings. First it had emergency evacuation chairs. What a great idea and I'm sure very useful if there was an injured person that needed to get down. I also thought about my sweet niece Whitney who I am dedicating this goal to, if the elevator was broken the wheel chair would not be able to be used and carrying her down 40 flights of stairs would be dangerous and time consuming. This would work great. The neat thing is I saw one of these on almost every floor. 

The second interesting thing was the stairs kept changing texture and style. Started out with common metal. Turned into grey rubber covered quiet stairs. Then blue soft carpet followed by brown hard carpet THEN followed by a different type of blue hard carpet. It was changing every 3 or 4 floors and I got a kick out of it. 

We reached the top of the building in 10 minutes 41 seconds and my son was hot and tired. He was still wearing two layers of clothing to keep warm at the football game earlier in the day. He pushed my back on the final floor and sprinted to make sure he was first to the top. Even though he was tired he was proud of himself for reaching the top and said "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be."

After sending out my walkie talkie call for assistance at the 41st floor (I don't have much experience with a walkie talkie...I even said over and out:) a nice woman greeted us and let us walk around the observation tower. The wind was howling and there were not any lights on this floor. The view was amazing! We walked around the entire floor and were able to see the lake and the city lights. Very impressive. 

The beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum is just outside of the US Bank Tower right on the lake. We could see it from the roof and it looked much smaller than up close in person.

I am grateful for those people who took a chance and allowed me to gain access to the stairwell. It started out with maybe a 2% chance that I would be able to run the building this trip and was thrilled when it actually happened. Also was special that my little buddy joined me on this run. Excellent end to a great trip.
Buttons in the Freight elevator for the ride down. Notice there is no 13th floor but one floor has double the ceiling height so it is still 42 floors.


  1. So inspiring Dan! And way to go Lincoln! Fun to read about!

  2. Just a heads up, that isn't Bud Selig. That is Robert Habush a well known Milwaukee lawyer, but Bud does buy stuff in the shop all the time.

    1. Okay if that is the case then it is hilarious and thanks for posting. I just googled both Bud and Robert and compared to the other pictures I took of him and wow....those guys could be twins! Hard to tell but I will trust you on this one. So funny! Thank you for your comment.