1 Oct

As part of my 30 before 30 project, I really wanted to do the Southside StepTrek.  It’s essentially a self-guided through the outdoor stairways of the Southside Slopes.  This is the description of the event from the Southside StepTrek’s webpage:

StepTrek is what the trekker makes it. Participants may choose to use this noncompetitive event as a test of fitness or a leisurely stroll. The benefits of a stirring walk through the Slopes have earned this event the heart-healthy rating of the American Heart Association. Special pricing makes the walk an attractive way to experience the city on an autumn afternoon.

In addition to the two courses that cover the equivalent distance of climbing Mt. Washington, the StepTrek:

  • Leads to breathtaking vistas with unobstructed views from Oakland’s Schenley Park to downtown’s skyscrapers and the bridges across the Ohio.
  • Offers signage on each of the two courses to guide trekkers through the Slopes. There are water and rest stops along the way, many flat to gently sloping areas, and fruit and refreshments in the staging area.
  • Explores tree-shrouded paths and secluded passageways. The history of the neighborhood, the exquisite vistas of the city, and the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the highest reaches of the neighborhood make this a trek like no other in the city.
  • Provides a number of realtor open houses throughout this hillside community. Step inside to see what life and amenities are like where many homes come with a view.

Walkers will enjoy all of these features as they tour, at their own pace, approximately 2,700 steps and the intertwining streets and sidewalks that connect them. The courses have changed to offer a different perspective of the South Side Slopes. Trekkers should find the routes pedestrian friendly, especially as they explore the middle areas of the Slopes neighborhood.

Volunteers positioned along the route will provide assistance. For the most direct route through both sides of the Slopes, try the Church Walk, a route favored by many in recent years. This course takes walkers past two historically significant churches on the Slopes before climbing to St. Paul of the Cross Monastery, whose chapel is open for quiet reflection. Regardless of the pace, the experience will be fun and fitness oriented.

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Unfortunately, the Southside StepTrek is scheduled on Yom Kippur this year. (I am still baffled that in a city with SUCH a large Jewish population, so many public events are still planned on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)

Since the Southside StrepTrek is off the table for 2011, I figured I’d do the Fineview Step-A-Thon.  It is also a hike through public steps, except this event is in the Fineview section of the city.  I signed up for it with my friend Sonia.  Sonia is super-sick right now and can’t go 😦

Last night I spent some time perusing the Fineview Step-A-Thon webpage.  This is the description of the Step-A-Thon:

Are you a runner, about to run the Great Race?   An urban explorer?  A fitness nut?  Or just a masochist?  How fast should you pace yourself, going up a stairway that rises out of view?  How fast can you go?  One thing for sure, the harder you fight the steps, the harder they fight back!  We saved the best for last…  the legendary Rising Main stairway.  High as a 17-story building, disorienting as it leans this way and that, your legs feeling like jelly as you near the top…  The Stepathon, ready to chew you up and spit you out!

See you on race day!

The Race

One challenge is to finish the course as fast as you can, battling your way up steep hills and impossibly high stairs.  How high?  The largest stairway, Rising Main, has 330 steps – same as a 17-story building!

As with any trail race, following the course is another part of the challenge.  There are 47 turns on the course.   We don’t have volunteers guiding you at every turn – this ain’t no pansy-ass road race!  The course is marked with orange flagging tape on trees and telephone poles, and directional arrows painted on the pavement at every intersection and turn. Pay attention, or you may go off-course.   If you cross a river or run past a a Best Buy, you’re lost.

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A friend of mine is pictured on the Fineview Step-A-Thon webpage.  I emailed him to ask him what the Step-A-Thon is like…He said it’s really rough.  Of course, he regularly runs marathons, and plays competitive ultimate frisbee.  And HE thinks it’s rough.

So I set my alarm for 7:00 am to go to the Step-A-Thon today.  I woke up and realized that I am not trained for this event.  While I could certainly go out and do the StepTrek right now, the Step-A-Thon (as much as I want it to be) is not the same event.  I am not in shape to run 5 miles, much less run 5 miles on stairs.

I have all kinds of guilt about chickening out, but at least the race money is going to a good cause.  It’s better off that I don’t go out to the race, because it would be major disastertimes.  I am sure I’d get through it in some way– I wouldn’t just keel over and die– but it would likely end up in me either being way way way behind everyone else and getting scared and lost, or me ditching the course partway through and just leaving.

There’s always next year– hopefully I’ll be able to do the Southside StepTrek then, because that’s the event I wanted to do in the first place. Or maybe I’ll even be fit enough to do the Fineview Step-A-Thon.  Either way, I’m going back to bed now.


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