Mortonite takes big steps in Empire State Building

Stephanie Gomes
Jared Marks ran in the 33rd annual New York Road Runners Empire State Run Tuesday morning. With a time of 16 minutes, eight seconds, Marks finished first in his age group and 107th overall.

While many take the elevator to avoid huffing and puffing up stairways, 18-year-old Jared Marks ran up 86 flights of stairs — 1,576 steps — by choice Tuesday morning.

Marks of Morton joined more than 300 runners racing to the top of the Empire State Building in New York during the 33rd annual New York Road Runners Empire State Run.

With a time of 16 minutes, eight seconds, Marks finished first in his age group, ages 12 to 19. He finished 107th overall.

Of about 315 runners, 294 completed the race.

Thomas Dold of Stuttgart, Germany won the race for the fifth consecutive year with a time of 10 minutes, 16 seconds. The ages of the runners spanned from 18 to 76.

“It was good,” Marks said hours after the race. “It was a lot longer that I thought. The stairs didn’t go in a spiral, so there was extra distance to walk.”

Marks said the race was an invitational, meaning the runners had to apply to participate.

Nearly 2,000 people sent in an application, he said.

Marks ran cross country in junior high and high school and was team captain his senior year.

And during a visit to Chicago last year, he attempted his first competitive stair climb at John Hancock Building — where he also finished first in his age group and 39th of 2,000 runners.

Climbing the 94 floors of the Hancock building, he finished the race in 13 minutes, 29 seconds.

“I’ve always been interested in stair climbing,” he said.

Marks said he trains by going to the gym three to four times a week. He also runs the stairs at Illinois Central College, where he attends college, two times a week.

“I run up and down them for an hour and a half,” he said.

When asked why he runs stairs rather than a flat surface, Marks said marathons take more endurance than anything.

“With the stairs, it takes more muscle and endurance,” Marks said. “I’m just better at (running stairs) than running three miles flat out.”

Because of the difficulty of the run, Marks said he is not sure if he will participate again next year.

“I don’t know, maybe in a few years,” Marks said.

Competitors from 19 states and 17 countries competed in the race.

In the women’s division, Melissa Moon of Wellington, New Zealand won with a time of 13 minutes, 13 seconds.