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CrossFit Palo Alto Member Climbs 52 Flights, Wins Race

Sean Falconer competed against more than 1,000 climbers, climbing 52 flights of stairs in 8 minutes flat.

Sean Falconer climbed 52 flights of stairs in eight minutes to take first place in the American Lung Association’s “Fight For Air Climb” event Saturday morning.

Falconer had trained for more than a year at to run to the top of the former Bank of America Center at 555 California St. in San Francisco. Teammate Heather Newberry, also a member of the CrossFit Palo Alto gym, took first place for women and 26th overall, with a time of 9:54.

“We’re really excited," said owner/founder Tim Dymmel of CrossFit Palo Alto, which participated in its second year of the challenge as one of 20 Bay Area CrossFit affiliates. ?Sean’s been working hard at it … he has been training pretty hard since the last year.”

Out of all the competing teams—comprising more than 1,000 total climbers—CrossFit Palo Alto’s group was the largest, with 28 racers. The team has raised $9,814.81 to date for the American Lung Association—the most out of all competing teams.

Falconer, who got second place by two-tenths of a second in last year’s race, finished a whole 19 seconds ahead of the second-place climber Saturday morning.

“Pretty amazing considering last year we didn't have enough members from CFPA to even make a proper team. Lots has happened in one year,” commented Falconer, a computer programmer by day, on CrossFit’s Facebook wall post Sunday evening.

“Our community is really involved. That’s the most exciting part,” said Dymmel, whose Facebook post about the Fight For Air results garnered several comments from the CrossFit community. It was a member of CFPA who first suggested entering the race as a team last year.

At the gym, CrossFit members exchange headphones for conversation, encouraging others to reach their goals and suggesting diet and exercise plans.

Dymmel calls it the “antithesis of what you think of as a gym.”  Instead of walking in and deciding what machine you are going to use first, every CrossFit member participates in the same variable one-hour session that includes warm-up, strength movement or skill building (such as squats, pull-ups or barbell press), 5-15 minute conditioning workout (high-paced, high intensity), and a cool down and stretch.

“It’s efficient. You don’t leave absolutely destroyed, but you definitely know that you did something,” said Dymmel of the unique CrossFit workout experience.

A quarter of CFPA’s members participated in the climb this year, and Dymmel plans to recruit even more members next year.

“We said, hey—we want to do this as a community,” said Dymmel of the race. “After, we drank our water, recovered and walked over to get breakfast together at Sears Restaurant—all of us.”

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