Senior runner to challenge Empire State Building’s steps

Gisela Perez is ready for her next race – a stairway climb at the Empire State Building.
Photo courtesy of Gisela Perez

A senior roadrunner is gearing up to climb 102 stories of stairs.

Gisela Perez, a 64-year-old veteran marathon runner from Concourse Village, is preparing to take on the daunting Empire State Building challenge.

Perez was one of just 60 runners selected through a lottery to participate in the Wednesday, February 7 event known as the 2018 Empire State Building Run-Up, sponsored by Turkish Airlines. The run is in its 41st year.

Perez said she is thrilled about being selected after entering the run-up lottery for the past five years.

“Doing the Empire State Building Run-Up has always been one of the things that I wanted to check off my bucket list forever,” said Perez. “I always applied to the lottery and I never got in, so I got lucky this time.”

She said she has run over 80 half-marathons, 28 marathons, as well as ultra marathons which are over 26 miles.

She has completed smaller triathlons, and considers the Empire State Building Run-Up to be a natural progression in her running lifestyle.

“I have done everything I have wanted to do in terms of running,” she said.

Perez said after successfully completing this race at the Empire State Building, she intends to focus on doing more complex triathlons.

She said she is looking forward to her latest endurance test.

“If you can get to the top, you are done; you are a ‘beast’ when it comes to running” she said while contemplating the feat of running up 1,576 stairs, equal to 1,050 feet in the iconic Empire State Building.

She added: “I cannot wait to do it so I can post my picture on Facebook.”

Luckily, Perez said, she will not have to run back down the stairs.

Perez said has run in the New York City Marathon 18 times, as well as the Wineglass Marathon in New York State’s Finger Lakes region.

She’s also completed marathons in Philadelphia two times, as well as in Chicago, Memphis, New Jersey and Central Park.

The runner said she likes to run two marathons a year, and she’s participated in the healthy activity since she was in high school.

Perez, who works at Montefiore, said that she began running recreationally in college, took a break when she had her son, and then picked it up again, running her first marathon in the early 1990s.

Perez typically runs 25 to 30 miles a week, she said.

Perez is an ambassador for Black Girls RUN!, an organization that encourages women of color to exercise and sponsors a number of events and products.

Perez leads a group of women from her Concourse Village community on runs every Tuesday morning, running at least five miles and up to ten, depending on the season, she said.

As a female in her 60s, she hopes to encourage other women around her age to continue running and pushing themselves.

Oftentimes, older women are discouraged from running, sometimes because of concerns about joint damage, but she believes running is generally good for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, she said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Gisela Perez, an avid marathon runner from Concourse Village, won a lottery to race up the stairs at the Empire State Building.
Photo courtesy of Gisela Perez

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