The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and SkyRise Chicago 2009. When RIC contacted me to photograph the annual run up the Willis Tower I instantly knew that I could check off one more thing on my list of ‘interesting Chicago experiences’. Although it did take me a moment or two when I thought, “Willis Tower? Where the heck is that?” before I remembered that the Sears Tower changed it’s name.
This really was quite a spectacle of physical endurance. About 1000 people run all the way up the 103 floors of the tower. Well, to be honest, many of them walked. But that’s still a whole lot of climbing. One of the most challenging things for me was the location. I mean, stairwells aren’t pretty, spacious, or interesting. How was I going to creatively capture the runners in such a cramped space? I stuck with a wide angle lens for most of it, and allowed some blur to convey motion.
There were some pretty inspiring stories throughout the day. Seven firefighters walked all the way up wearing their uniforms to honor the firefighters that did the say thing in the towers during 9/11. Those helmets alone way 5 1/2 pounds. Imagine that for a minute. I did a bunch of running up and down in small sections carrying my camera gear and I was hurting. But I couldn’t complain after watching those guys.
At the top some of the patients of RIC were there to hand out the medals.
Once the hoopla started to subside I couldn’t resist taking one shot of myself standing in the new plexiglass ledge that they built off the edge of the observation deck. That’s 103 stories- straight down :)
A fellow photographer and friend, Joanne, helped me cover this event. While I was shooting things up top, she was at the bottom. RIC has created a page with many other photos that we took this day. You can see them here:
RIC SkyRise images