Steve Stermer

Birthdate: 3 January 1958

What is your occupation? Senior Software Engineer with Lockheed Martin. I develop satellite simulators for government space programs.

What/when was your first climb? 2/22/09, Run The Republic, Denver, Colorado.

How many climbs have you completed? Between 40 - 50.

Why/how did you start? I received an email to join a Lockheed Martin coroporate team for the Denver climb. I figured "how hard could it be; it's just stairs." Ten floors into the race, I realized how hard it could be, and afterwards I was committed to improving my time the following year. I also started looking for other races around the country to pursue right away. I was hooked.

Do you have a favorite climb? Why? Scale the Strat in Las Vegas. I loved the original format of a 2-day, where you had to qualify in the top-50 to race up a second time the next day. Recently, they moved to a single day format, but I still enjoy the atmosphere, the views, and the unique stairwell it provides. It is also the US Championship race, so it draws the best climbers from across the country, and usually has some international elites as well. It is a great place to reunite with many friends in the climbing community.

Least favorite climb? Why? Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago. I've done this race several times and always seem to do much worse than I should. The steps are taller than in most other buildings, and something about the race just crushes my spirit. Someday I hope to go back and finally do well there.

Why do you climb? I climb for the fitness aspect as well as the community of climbers that I've come to know through this sport. I've made friends with athletes from all over the US, and Germany, Mexico, Canada, Denmark, Austria, and other countries. The community is so encouraging and supportive, even though we compete intensively with each other. I've never encountered a sore loser or seen any attitude less than positive. We all rejoice with our step-siblings when they do well, and encourage them when they have an off day.

Are there other sports you’re passionate about? I've played competitive softball and volleyball for many years.

How do you train?  live in Colorado, so am fortunate to have high-elevation training opportunities everywhere I look. I hike 14,000 ft peaks and various trails up local mountains. I also ride many of the area's mountain bike trails. But most of my training is done on the Manitou Incline, a repurposed scenic railroad bed that rises 2000 ft over a 1 mile span. The 2800 railroad crossties form a staircase that climbs straight up the side of a mountain, topping out at 8500 ft elevation. Surrounded by magnificent natural beauty, it offers a heart pounding workout that I try to do at least once every day, regardless of the weather. Climbing it in snow is actually my favorite time.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? I have made so many lasting friendships with my fellow climbers that I would have otherwise missed out on. We are a very tight-knit group that keeps in contact online and at every race we can make. I always look forward to seeing them all at various races around the country.

Who inspires you? I see so many fellow climbers who have faced potentially devastating issues in their life and yet have conquered them to continue competing. From brain injuries and paralysis to cancers to knee injuries, this group is the embodiment of dedication, perseverence, and triumph.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals?  Not really. Maybe that's what I'm missing to make it to the next level!

What's on your iPod during workouts/competitions? I try to find songs that have beats that are near the step pacing I need to reach my goal. Fast-paced music with very strong beats keep my feet moving.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? 13. I've done well with various versions of that number.

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? The old adage of "one step at a time" is nowhere more fitting that in stairclimbing. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the only thing way to attack it is in very small increments. Stair climbing is the ultimate exercise in stepwise refinement. Break the problem down into manageable chunks and then get through each one. Always remember that the pain will end soon. Eventually you will overcome the beast and celebrate your victory. Then start thinking about how you can do it better, faster, and more efficiently next time. The competition is less with your other climbers and more with yourself. Always strive to do better each time. Ultimately, the only one you need to beat is you.