Islanders step up at the 2007 Big Climb for Leukemia

Reporter Staff

Aaron Levin and Susie Chalker captured top honors among Mercer Island climbers on Sunday at the 21st annual Big Climb for Leukemia at Seattle’s Columbia Center. Levin, 38, scaled 1,311 steps in 9 minutes, 55 seconds while Chalker, 17, reached the 73rd floor finish line in 13:48. The annual stair climb, one of fewer than 150 competitive skyscraper climbs worldwide, brought over 4,000 climbers to Seattle to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Micah Babinski, 18, earned the second best time among Islander males with a 10:31. Leo Batalov, 35 was third in 11:08. Yusef Medhi, 60, also completed the climb in 11 minutes. Diane Daggett, 46, was second among Islander women with a 16:15, while Anna Sanna was third clocking a 16:28.

Chalker, a senior at Mercer Island High School inexplicably said “it was fun.”

“It wasn’t noisy, even though 4,000 people pounded up the steps at the same time,” she said, “just hot.”

Over 4,000 climbers aged 8 to 82 from 19 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Italy and Belgium to made the 788-foot ascent of Seattle’s tallest building to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The climb is expected to raise over $450,000.

The top women’s time was earned by Georgia Sanz Daniels who climbed to her second Seattle stairclimb title in two weeks on Sunday, scaling 1,311 steps in 9:53.

“It felt light,” said the 5-foot, 5-inch, 135-pound Daniels, 39, who earlier in the month scaled the same Columbia Center steps in 50 pounds of firefighting “bunker gear” to win the women’s title at the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

In men’s competition, Berg, 34, reached the 73rd floor finish line in 7:32.

The Big Climb for Leukemia got underway with Kirkland mountaineers Phil and Susan Ershler leading the way for climbers. “This rates as important and fun as anything that I’ve ever done,” said Ershler who in 2002 along wife Susan, became the first couple in history to successfully summit each of the world’s Seven Summits including Mt. Everest.

At 82-years-old, Anders Jacobsen of Everett, Wash., was one of three octogenarian climbers at the 2007 climb.

“I hope to get better at this as I get older,” said Jacobsen, a former logger who clocked a 24:21 in his eighth Big Climb for Leukemia. “At 82 you don’t go as fast as you did when you were younger,” he said. “I took it two steps at a time for the first ten flights then paced myself,” said Jacobsen who trains weekly in the eight-flight stairwell of Everett General Hospital. “Like a runner, you can use your gut and pound it out for the last few flights, because you know you’re close.”

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