On top of the world: Belton finishes Empire State Building Run-Up

By on June 12, 2019
Lititz’s Danielle Belton gets a bird’s-eye view of New York City after climbing 86 floors in the Empire State Building Run-Up in a time of 25:33 on Wednesday, May 15.

Lititz’s Danielle Belton gets a bird’s-eye view of New York City after climbing 86 floors in the Empire State Building Run-Up in a time of 25:33 on Wednesday, May 15.

The fifth time was the charm for Danielle Belton.

On four previous occasions, the 37-year-old Warwick Township resident had applied in a lottery for the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Each with no luck.

“I never usually win a lotto for running,” Belton said. “So I was like, ‘I’ll apply, but I’ll probably not get in.’”

So you can imagine her surprise then after receiving an email in February saying that she had, in fact, been selected for this year’s event.

“I couldn’t believe it. There was a moment of panic, like, ‘Oh no, I have to do this, but do I want to do this?,’” Belton laughed. “But I’m glad I got in. I’m glad I did it.”

Her time of 25:33 — climbing 1,576 total steps and 86 floors in the world’s first and most famous tower race on Wednesday, May 15 — was easily ahead of her goal.

“I was super stoked about that (time),” said Belton, who went in hoping to finish in 30 minutes.

Not that there weren’t challenges.

Having formerly competed in an ultra-marathon (50K) and nine marathons — including New York and Chicago — her surroundings, obviously, were significantly different.

“I think the hardest part of that stairclimb is the fact that all the stairs were gray,” Belton said, “so as you’re going up, your vision starts to get a little bit disoriented. So you don’t really know when you hit the top step, then you go to take another step, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s an imaginary step.’”

Lititz’s Danielle Belton received this medal after completing her first-ever Empire State Building Run-Up in New York on May 15.

Lititz’s Danielle Belton received this medal after completing her first-ever Empire State Building Run-Up in New York on May 15.

Belton admits that she was super intimidated. Not getting underway until 9 p.m. in the staggered-start format, she was out to dinner beforehand, where she bumped into other runners. There, the Lititz runner heard stories about people finishing the Empire State Building Run-Up, and similar events, in about 15 minutes.

“I was like, ‘Oh shoot, maybe in 30 minutes, I’m going to be the last one finishing,’” Belton said. “Then once it started and they were letting climbers go off, I started blowing by people pretty quickly.”

Heeding a competitor’s advice, however, she was careful about her pace.

“A gentleman said to me, ‘Hey, watch out for the people who go out really fast. You’ll catch them around the 30th floor. They’ll be out of breath and pretty much dead on the stairwell,’” Belton recalled. “I took my time going up and those people who took off, those are the people I was passing. A gentleman was sitting on the staircase at one point. Another was by the doorway looking for fresh air.”

There were no rules stopping the runners from taking multiple steps at a time. The Lititz runner chose to get the full experience, however.

“I could take two at a time,” Belton said, “but I decided I wanted to touch all the steps. So I did. It’s just something I wanted to do. I mentioned (before the race) that I didn’t want to use the handrail, and toward the end, I started using it. But for the most part, I just went up and touched every single step.”

When she reached the top of the Empire State Building, there was the matter of returning to street level. With runners still climbing the steps when Belton finished, ushers were on hand to escort finishers to the elevators.

Belton said, however, that if walking back down the steps was an option, she might have done it.

“Afterward, (my legs) weren’t that bad,” she recalled. “I’m good at running downhill, so I think I could have managed going down the stairs. I had enough energy in me. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.”

Which made the two-and-a-half hour drive home from Midtown Manhattan — after “unfolding like an accordion” upon reaching her car — a feasible exercise.

Navigating through the streets of New York City wasn’t a problem for Belton, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y. before moving to Lititz three years ago with her husband, Nick.

“I moved her for love,” said Belton, a business analyst for WebstaurantStore and a French Pastry class teacher for a local business in Lititz.

Given her New York background, she was familiar with the Empire State Building Run-Up for years, so it just made sense to her to apply for it.

“I’m a native New Yorker, so why not?,” she said. “A couple of friends had mentioned it before, and I said, ‘Why not?’ It’s a challenge. It’s different.”

On her fifth try in the lotto, she was rewarded.

This will also be the fifth year that she applies for the Tokyo Marathon.

“Maybe the fifth time is the charm,” Belton smiled.

Regardless of what happens, she is happy to be able to check off the Empire State Building Run-Up.

“I would say that I had the same runner’s high as the ultra-marathon,” Belton said. “When I did my first marathon, I was floating on a cloud. I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. I can’t believe I did 26 miles.’ And once you run multiple marathons, I feel like it kinda gets a little bit old. Then you try something new and you’re like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I did a 50K,’ and I rode that cloud for quite some time. That’s exactly how I felt (doing the Empire State Building Run-Up).”

 

 

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