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Third annual Tower Run draws sweat and smiles

(Collegian file photo)

The third annual Tower Run challenged Minutemen and Minutewomen in what was, for some, a fun test of bravery and endurance on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Climbers lined the walls in the lower level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, prepared to put both their bodies and minds to the test by climbing 440 steps to the top of the tower.

Some runners trained, some did not. For some, the climb served as a significant physical challenge, whereas for others, it was a quick way to release some energy.

Economics graduate student Ben Chalmers viewed the event as an opportunity for exploration.

“I’ve noticed the library before as I’m walking around on campus and it’s pretty tall. When I saw [the run], I thought ‘Wow. Would love to be up there sometime,’” said Chalmers. “I’ve climbed, three, four floors before but tonight I just wanted the full taste.”

For others, the Tower Run was more than an excuse to explore all 27 floors of the library.

Keegan Eller, a junior hospitality and tourism management major, decided to run for her health.

“I’ve decided to do this because I started working out when I came to UMass, but I’m too lazy to go to the rec center,” Eller said.

However, Eller prepared for the run in different ways.

“I live in a tower on the 20th floor, so at the beginning of the semester I made it a goal to take the stairs at least once a day,” Eller said. “Once I saw this, I thought ‘that’s perfect.’”

Gigi Epstein, a freshman linguistics major, jumped upon the opportunity because of her general appreciation for the Du Bois library.

“I think that it’s really great that this is the tallest academic library in the world and I really love to run,” she said excitedly. While she came to the run wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFinger shoes, she assumed that they wouldn’t give her a competitive advantage, due to the surface of the stairs.

Despite being a NCAA Division one distance runner, University of Massachusetts Track and Field senior Mary Lavery said she was nervous for the run.

“I just never really do stairs,” she confessed before the run. “Let’s hope!”

Lavery was greeting by high-fives as she finished the climb triumphantly.

The stairs united people of all ages. Best friends McKenna Cambo and Talia Sadiq, both ages 11, have been competing in the Tower Run since it began three years ago. Talia was excited, but McKenna was nervous.

“I would only do it if she did it too,” explained McKenna. Both girls agreed that they remember it being fun but painful, as they attempted to beat their times of 4:02 and 4:05 from last year.

All participants finished the climb. The fastest runner was Jorge Cardenas, finishing with a time of 2:31. Jorge declined to comment.

As an opportunity to see a new side of their library, spend time with friends or get in a quick workout, the event sponsored by UMass Students of Recreation, UMass Campus Recreation, and the UMass Libraries gave students and community members alike the chance to come together as a school community.

The event’s entry fee of $10 included a free t-shirt along with the run, and all proceeds from the run go toward the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Facilities Fund. According to the event’s website, the fund is for “enabling the Libraries to upgrade, improve, and re-imagine learning spaces.”

Gretchen Keller can be reached at

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