I've written a little bit before about my dad, who has been an inspiration and heavy motivation for me in my fitness journey. We've run some awesome races together, and he's spent the last few years honing his stair climbing technique through annual attempts to Tackle the Tower, Cleveland's big stair climb. This year, he finally pulled the trigger on the Hancock signups, and managed to reserve his spot right away! After months (really years) of training in random corporate stairwells after-hours, he made the trip out here to take on one of Chicago's tallest buildings.
The John Hancock Center is a massive 100-story building that stretches up over 1,100 feet along Chicago's Magnificent Mile. We've seen giant buildings before, but what really struck us as we surveyed the site the night before was that the Hancock's base is so humble and innocuous! It's hardly the vast construction you'd think would be needed to support such a giant building. I seriously think the (nerd alert) sandcrawler in Star Wars had a bigger base when they built the scale model in Tunisia for up-close scenes.
It was freezing cold in Chicago all weekend, so I was worried we'd be waiting outside this monster while the runners were in the stairwell - but was pleasantly surprised to find that there was ample space in the lower lobby for family and friends to wait. It was still a madhouse, though, with hundreds of people packed in there at any given time. Climber waves assembled every 15 minutes, with another climber starting roughly every eight seconds. Dad was hoping to reach the top of the full climb (94 floors) somewhere in the 20-25 minute range, based on his previous stair climbs and practice runs in smaller buildings. His start time hit and off he went, while I waited with my mom down in the lobby.
And waited. And waited. And waited. Even if he took a half hour to get up the stairs, we expected him back down in less than an hour - but no! We forgot about the mob scene at the TOP of the building, when all the climbers finished and needed to recover before heading back down. By the time my dad reached the top, there was a huge line of earlier participants waiting to come back down in one of only two elevators that was running to bring people back to the ground. Eventually, we found him after watching many elevator loads that did NOT include my dad, since he had been ushered to the service elevator in an attempt to speed things up at the top floor.
After such a long wait, Dad had all the time he needed to recover, so we headed straight for the Hilton across the street where the Hustle Expo was being held (and, conveniently, where we'd stayed the night before, thanks to a great Hustler discount). The Expo wasn't much to write home about, just a handful of local vendors and a light buffet for the runners, so we headed straight for the most important thing: the results table. According to the semi-official results, Dad CRUSHED his expected time, making it to the top of the Hancock in only 16 minutes and 47 seconds! We were absolutely floored! I know my dad is The Man but my goodness, I never knew he was Beast Mode!
As a side note, I'd like to point out how awesome the event shirt is. It says "good things come to those who hustle", which is an idea that was foundational to some of my early soccer coaches and helped lay the foundation for my own athletic career. I'm kicking myself for not thinking ahead and volunteering for this event, which would have landed me the same shirt in a beautiful turquoise shade - maybe next year! I also really like the medal, and can't wait to make Dad another medal hanger for this excellent piece of bling!