Name: Jose Camacho
Birthdate: 15 January 1954
How many climbs have you completed? The tower/stair climbs I have done throughout our great country are AON Tower (twice) and US Bank Tower (three times) both in downtown LA; Columbia (Center) Tower and Space Needle Tower in Seattle; The Towerthon (twice) in San Diego; The Stratosphere Tower (three times) in Las Vegas; Bisbee Stair climb, in Bisbee, Arizona; Renaissance Square, (Two Buildings) in Downtown, Phoenix; Fight For Air Climb in downtown Albuquerque; SkyRise Chicago (Sears/Willis) Tower climb (twice), American Lung Presidential Tower Climb (4 Towers) and John Hancock Building/Tower - all three events in Chicago; Wachovia Financial Center building in downtown Miami; Tampa Fight for Air Climb; Dallas Vertical Mile; Empire State building - ESBRU (three times) and the inaugural 90 floor One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) climb - both in downtown New York City. I am currently training for the full 102-104 stair climb of One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) on June 4, 2017.
The tower/stair climbs I have done abroad (so far) are The Menara Tower in Kuala, Lumpur Malaysia; The CN Tower in Toronto Ontario, Canada; The Sidney Tower in downtown Sidney, Australia; The ICC (International Commerce Centre) building in downtown Hong Kong; The Millennium Tower (had to run it four times) in Vienna, Austria; and even though this is not a tower/stair climb, this has been the most spiritual and coolest climb yet - running the Andes Mountains for three consecutive days (and camping out at night) and finally running down into Machu Picchu in Peru.
Why/how did you start? I discovered stair/tower running approximately 16 years ago from a famous Jemez Pueblo Indian mountain runner named Al Waquie, who had set a world record running up the Empire State Building. He gave me some stair training ideas and set me on this path of running up buildings and towers.
Do you have a favorite climb? There are really no favorite stair climbs for me. They each have offered a different challenge and different experience and whether good or bad have made me the climber I am today.
Why do you climb? Why do I choose to do such a grueling sport? Besides the obvious health and fitness benefits, in reality it is "my drug of choice"! Tower running has become a ongoing lesson, representing the challenges I must overcome in life. A way for me to persevere in whatever life has in store.
What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? I was born in the Caribbean however was only there for the about the first year of my life before my family relocated to the South Bronx in New York City. I am now very free of the world I grew up in the South Bronx, where, although I came from a loving Puerto Rican family, I was surrounded by an environment of gang violence, drugs and apathy. I was one of the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters living in poverty. My parents were illiterate, but wanted a better world for us, which is why they signed me into the military at 17 years of age. I entered the Vietnam War as a teenage boy where mentally and emotionally grew up with structure and discipline and left as a man. The same discipline that has lead me to participate in dozens of road races, triathlons, duathlons and eventually, into the world of vertical running. I have been living in Albuquerque, New Mexico for over 40 years and training in the surrounding mountain trails for over 20 years. I am now 63 and still pushing it up the stairs throughout our county and abroad! I'm not an elite runner, not setting or breaking any records, but I'm just training to be as competitive, in my age group, as I can be. I consider myself a decent "wanna-be stair runner with a lot of heart." It strengthens my coping mechanism and has become my most effective life-PTSD treatment. For me, a dank, nasty stairwell, with a steep challenge in front, is a place that keeps me strong and ready for anything that life has to throw at me. Where I am now was a long fought effort and is where I want and need to be. Making it to the TOP is a thing of beauty!