Bob Toews

Do you go by a nickname? My legal name is Robert, but that's way too stuffy.  I'm a Bob to the core.

Birthdate: 12 September 62

What is your occupation? Assistant Director of Institutional Research, Goshen College.

What/when was your first climb? 2006 Hancock

How many climbs have you completed? Over thirty events at 11 venues (and counting).

Why/how did you start? My 7th grade basketball coach made us run our 1 story stairwell for conditioning.  I hated it, but I came to understand the benefit (long story).  Many years later I would train for hiking in The Rockies by climbing stairs, always daydreaming of climbing BIG buildings.  One day someone told me he was doing a climb at the John Hancock Building in Chicago.  Really?  This IS a thing?  I convinced my son to join me.  Training was great for both of us (again, long story.)  The event was the worst pain I'd felt to that point.  We were back the next year.  Several years later I got into a Hancock preclimb dinner David Hanley put together and met David, Karen Geninatti, Alex Workman, and Ed Badida.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Why was I so fortunate to fall in with this lot?!

Do you have a favorite climb? Why? It's a toss up between Bennington and Aon Chicago.  I love everything about Bennington (and a big thank you to Alex for getting me out there!), but Aon this year was a breakthrough climb for me - and they love to see us climb it multiple times.  I also like the course at Strat.

Least favorite climb? Why? Sears is just hard (steep and long), but, so far, it's the multiple climbs I detest the most.  If I was pacing for total number of climbs it would be one thing, I could do that, but when you destroy yourself competing for fastest time up AND total number, it's just rugged.  I did 23 trips up the Springfield Hilton the day Justin broke the WR there.  I loved that day!

Why do you climb? You're the one writing the book, Jane.  :-)  In a nutshell, to hang out with some of the coolest people I know, to stay in shape, and to push myself to see what I really am capable of.  I keep finding ways to get past barriers so who know where this will end.  I am also convinced the body needs challenge or it will wither.  I'm not into withering.

Are there other sports you’re passionate about? I played a lot of tennis in high school, but now enjoy biking and hiking for fun, no other real passions at this point.

Did you have injuries or issues you needed to overcome to climb? I tore my meniscus several years ago playing indoor soccer.  Climbing seems not to adversely affect that injury.  Otherwise I've been quite fortunate.

How do you train? I used to Spin, but have recently started more programmed interval workouts on an ArcTrainer (someday a Stairmaster).  I also do some work in a very short stairwell, some on a bike, and other core and strength work. It's tough to hit the intensity level of a climb, especitally for the duration, but I try to do that at least once per week leading up to an event.  I have to step into the stairwell knowing I've pushed mentally through the pain for that long.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? Yes, many of them!  These relationships are what keep me in the sport.  A few have patiently mentored me.  I hate to single anyone out, and should not, but I will just mention that David Hanley was my gateway drug to this community and continues to be an inspiration both as an Elite climber who continues to get faster, and as a person who takes a scientific approach to training and competing.  Karen and Oz were (are) early inspirations on how to keep going when it gets tough.  I also have to give a shout out to Mark. He was so welcoming to WCL, my other gateway.  He even called me, yes on the phone, to give me advice about how to do Bennington.  Pleasant surprise, it was.  50+ climbers continue to amaze and inspire me.  No excuses!  And so many others whose connections are vital.

Who inspires you? My first inpiration in climbing was Terry Purcell.  My son and I would race over to the after party at Hancock after our climbs to see how fast Terry was that year. We always had to laugh at how ridiculously fast his times we were.  (And later Terry was very willing to give advice to this newbie!)  I'm also very inspired by the incredible guys in my AG (and older!) who prove age does not matter.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals?  No, but I am looking for the perfect warmup.  It's critical for both the mind and the body to be ready at go time.

What's on your iPod during workouts/competitions? I am trying to train and climb without tunes so I can listen to my body, but tunes do help take your mind off of the pain.  When I listen, I like The Tubes, Talking Heads, some Petty, a little Mancini, Peter Gabriel, and the occasional Philp Glass to name a few.

Do you have a website or blog for those interested in learning more about you? Just facebook.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? I'm a numbers guy by day, but wouldn't have a preference here.

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives? You very likely won't be the fastest of the fast - I'm certainly not - but that's not the point of climbing.  It's a great place to get to know yourself and other athletes who want to push boundaries- to see what's deep down inside.  It's low impact, and a great way to challenge both mind, body, and spirit.  If you can find a good indoor stairwell to train in, there is no such thing as a bad weather day!  And, as Syd is famous for saying, staying this active slows down the slow down.

Additional Comments: It's about time someone started collecting clilmber profiles.  :-)  Thanks Jane!