Hal Carlson

Birthdate: 21 June 1952

What is your occupation?: Retired Fire Chief of the Aurora IL FD

What/when was your first climb?: Hustle Up the Hancock, 2/23/2003

How many climbs have you completed?: 89 as of February 2015.

Why/how did you start?: Recovering from a running injury, we had a fire in our local high-rise (20 stories) and I was surprised at how hard it was to run up the stairwell. The rest is history.

Do you have a favorite climb? Why?: Empire State Building. Stair layout, international field, history, tradition. And of course, it's New York.

Least favorite climb? Why?: Milwaukee. Something about the air quality and for the spring power hour climb, only one elevator.

Why do you climb? Excellent work out, great cross-training for runners and nice to compete in shorts and a T-shirt in winter.

Are there other sports you're passionate about? Running and basketball.

Do you have injuries or issues you need to overcome to climb? Numerous injuries. The most serious were broken neck, torn Achilles (twice), hernia and torn rotator cuff.

How do you train? Stairs as often as possible, Stairmaster, running, rowing and bicycling.

Do you have a special relationship with any of your step-siblings? : The stair climbing community is a tight group. I have made many good friends along the way.

Who inspires you?: When I first started climbing, there was a man named John who had lost hundreds of pounds and had a website "way too fat." And elites Henry Wigglesworth, Dan Ackerman, Syd Arak and Ned Greene, to name a few.

Do you have a good luck charm or any superstitions or pre-race rituals? No.

If we had numbers on our jerseys, what would your number be? 14, the number on my basketball jersey in high school.

What would you like to tell others about yourself and your experience with stair climbing that might inspire them in their lives?: I broke my neck on July 4, 2005, in an Alaska race called "Mt. Marathon." This put me in a neck brace for six months, but i was still able to compete at Sears and Milwaukee in November.