First annual Tower Run up the W.E.B. Du Bois Library’s 440 steps to be held Thursday

By Colby Sears

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Andy Castillo/Daily Collegian

(Andy Castillo/Daily Collegian)

Members of the University of Massachusetts community brave enough to climb the 440 steps of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library will have a chance to do so Thursday night at 7 p.m., during the first annual Tower Run up to the building’s 26th floor.

Modeled after the Empire State Building Run-Up, the world’s oldest and most famous tower race, the Tower Run will place participants into different time slots in which they will be allowed to run up the building in intervals, starting from the building’s lower level.

All proceeds from the $10 entry fee per runner will go toward the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Facilities Fund.

The event is sponsored by registered student organization UMass Students of Recreation, UMass Campus Recreation and the UMass Amherst Libraries.

“It’s just sort of something that’s healthy and enjoyable and that highlights the campus landmark of the library,” said development and communications assistant Alison Kiraly. “It [the library] is the busiest place on campus and it’s something that’s immediately identifiable, and we just thought that partnering to do something like this would be a really great thing.”

The Tower Run is not timed and participants are encouraged to bring their own timing devices. Though the first 100 registrants will receive an event t-shirt, the only prize being offered is bragging rights of completing the race.

According to Kiraly, her coworker and scholarly communications resident librarian Charlotte Roh approached her in January about holding a Tower Run at UMass, citing the Empire State Building race as an example. Kiraly started to think about who UMass Libraries could partner with to make the event happen, eventually reaching out USOR.

“USOR was saying that part of their charge is to do something to raise money for other things on campus … so we chose the Facilities Fund and we’re able to use that to do learning spaces here. So it’s not going to be behind-the-scenes but something that every student will be able to use,” she said of the event proceeds.

The money will be used to upgrade library facilities for students to use, she said, like improving the lower level Learning Commons in Du Bois. She is hoping to raise around $1,000 from the event.

Kiraly said UMass Libraries wanted the run to be very student-driven, and even though the system is involved in the event, they are mostly helping students out with anything they might need during the planning process.

Jay Havey, a senior hospitality and tourism management major and president of USOR, said that though he had a hand in planning the event, he wanted to give credit to Kiraly and Roh for coming to him with the idea.

“They got in contact with us and we thought it was a great idea just because it really aligned with what we’re trying to do and what they’re trying to do,” he said.

Havey said he is hoping that enough people register for the run for it to become an annual event. About 20 people had signed up to participate as of Saturday.

Though he can’t participate himself because he will be helping out during the event, Havey said the run up the 440 steps should not be taken lightly.

“I ran it just to see how it was and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he said, mentioning that runners will take the elevator back down to the ground level after they have finished running.

For comparison, the Empire State Building Run-Up challenges runners from around the world to race up 1,576 stairs. According to the event’s website, the fastest participants are able to run up the building’s 86 floors in about 10 minutes. The 39th annual competition is scheduled for Feb. 2016.

Registration for the Tower Run is limited to UMass students, faculty and staff only, but Kiraly said she would like to try to open it up to the local community in the future if it runs successfully on Thursday.

Participants interested in running must register online in advance by Nov. 17.

Colby Sears can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colbysears.