Bronxites challenge Empire State’s steps

Michael Topper and Joseph Martinez represented the Bronx in the 2009 Road Runners 32nd Annual Empire State Building Run Up on Tuesday, February 3, making their way up 1,576 steps and 86 flights of stairs.

Two native Bronxites made their borough proud as they competed in the 2009 New York Road Runners 32nd Annual Empire State Building Run-Up.

On Tuesday, February 3, about 200 participants ran up 1,576 steps to the 86th floor, challenging and pushing themselves further than many have before.

“Most of these tower climbs are fundraisers, but this one is just an invitational event,” said Michael Topper, who participated for the second time. “I guess next to the New York City Marathon this is the second most prestigious event.”

Managing director of Exact Meter Reading Corporation, located 408 E. 175th Street, Topper, and senior field representative, Joseph Martinez had the honor of competing together.

The competition allows participants from around the world, who go through a strict application process just to be considered.

Last year Topper, 48, finished with a time of just over 19 minutes, beating his own record in 2009, finishing in 18 minutes and 54 seconds this year, the 27th male to finish and 31st overall.

Topper and Martinez vigorously trained together, taking advantage of the trails in Van Courtland Park and the outdoor stairs by Kennedy High School.

Despite training, some things came as a surprise to first timer Martinez, who didn’t expect shortness of breath to be such a challenge.

“I was surprised knowing it wasn’t my legs that were dragging me down, it was my cardio,” said Martinez, who comes from the Little Italy section of the Bronx. “I spoke to the man who won though, and he gave me credit for doing as well as I did my first time.”

Martinez, 27, finished in 16 minutes and 48 seconds, placing 14th for the males, and 6th in his age group.

“We are just a couple of Bronx guys, that work in the Bronx, and train in the Bronx, and we wanted to compete in this race,” explains Topper.

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