Terry Purcell

Do you go by a nickname? No, just Terry.

Birthdate: 2 January 1971

What is your occupation? Lead designer for the DB2 for z/OS Optimizer for IBM.

What/when was your first climb? Sydney (Australia) Centerpoint Tower 1993

How many climbs have you completed? Approx 50 - from 1993 - 2011.

Why/how did you start? In 1993, 3-time Empire State Building winner Geoff Case taunted me saying that I wasn't tough enough for stair climbing.

Do you have a favorite climb? Why? Too many favorties. It starts with Sydney Tower - because in 1995 I went 24 sec faster than Geoff Case's old record. Empire State Building is another favorite - winning it in 1998 was a proud moment. Hustle up the Hancock in Chicago - won 9 times from 9 starts. Step up for Kids (Aon Center) in Chicago - because it is a consistent stairwell (which suits my style), I won it 5 times from 5 starts and my race record of 9:26 still stands as of 2016.

Least favorite climb? Why? Also a few - Menara Tower in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia - because you have an 800m uphill run before you then ascend 100 floors. Willis Tower - even though I won 3 times - its a tough stairwell and one year Eric Leninger and I decided to stick together, but I took us through 1/2 way too fast in about 6 min.........and crawled the last 10 floors and won by 1 sec, but spent 45 min on a stretcher with an oxygen mask.

Why do you climb? I climbed because it challenged me to go beyond what I thought was my limit. And the sense of accomplishment kept me going.

Are there other sports you’re passionate about? Stair climbing is the only sport that I ever gave everything to.

Did you have injuries or issues you needed to overcome to climb? No. Before stair climbing I had knee and shin injuries from running - but no injuries in stair climbing.

How do you train? Too much to share, and not enough space. I was fortunate to learn a lot about how best to train during my 18 years of climbing, but found that getting into good physical shape was the easy part. The most important part of my race preparation was having confidence that I was mentally ready.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? Eric Leninger and I have a great friendship, and he often asks me for advice and to bounce ideas off for training and racing. He was the 1st USA climber to beat me in a stair climb @ Oakbrook Terrace in mid-late 2000s. John Osborn and I are great friends also - since we live in the same town and sometimes get to train together.

Who inspires you? 10 years ago I would say 1 or 2 Tour De France cyclists - but unfortunately events unfolded that ruined that. Now my youngest son Liam inspires me because he faces so many challenges in life, but smiles every day.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals?  The night before a race I would write on a note pad (next to my bed) a very simple race plan, and especially what I would tell myself during the race when I needed to push through the pain barrier that would hit about 3/4 of the way through the race.

What's on your iPod during workouts/competitions? I never listened to music in the stairs - but on my spinning bike or running I would listen to some current hits and some older favorites including the Cure.

Do you have a website or blog for those interested in learning more about you? No. I am pretty private. Unless you ask me directly, and then I can't shut up.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? I always liked #1 :-).

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? When I began in stair climbing, I never dreamed that I would accomplish what I did. But when I started racing, I found that my limitations were mostly self imposed. I began to think logically about where I was losing the most time in a race. Most of it was common sense and came down to understanding that I needed to push myself at an uncomfortable pace for several minutes in training so that I was prepared to do that in the race - there was no coasting or settling into a comfortable pace as there was in running or cycling. What was unique to stair climbing but also common sense was technique. It is all about consistency and efficiency - most people go out too fast such that their 2nd half is much slower than the 1st half, and are also wasting too much energy lifting their feet up too far above each step and taking too many steps on the landings. On the psychological side, it is about focusing on the task at hand - the consistent pace and efficient technique, and deferring your recognition of the physical pain until the end. I was also able to take this common sense approach to stair climbing and apply it to other aspects of my life. I learned that I could succeed in whatever I wanted to, provided I thought through the most logical way to approach the task and was confident in my ability to achieve the goal that I had set out. Too often we limit our own achievement by not challenging ourselves to accomplish more.