Basalt woman will run in Empire State Building Run-Up to raise funds in honor of her dad |

Basalt woman will run in Empire State Building Run-Up to raise funds in honor of her dad

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Courtesy photo

Nancy Dwight Gallagher, of Basalt, is used to running in races where distance is the challenge. Her next effort will be a battle against gravity.

Dwight Gallagher was selected to compete Feb. 4 in the Empire State Building Run-Up, a punishing dash up 86 stories and 1,576 steps to the top of the second-tallest building in Manhattan. She is among the 100 participants chosen for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation PowerTeam. Dwight Gallagher is raising funds in honor of her father, Don Dwight, who died from the blood cancer on Oct. 24, 2011.

“I feel honored to be able to go to it,” she said.

Dwight Gallagher, 57, has been a runner since her dad got her interested in track while she was growing up in South Dakota. She has run the New York Marathon four times and was preparing for a fifth last year until Hurricane Sandy struck. She heard about the vertical challenge on the stairs of the Empire State Building while watching television. The event was particularly intriguing since it offers a chance to battle the cancer that claimed her dad.

“The right training is hard when I live in a town where the highest building is four stories.”
Nancy Dwight Gallagher

A limited number of competitors are allowed into the Empire State Building Run-Up. Most are simply competing rather than running to raise money. Last year a record 724 racers finished, according to the website of the sponsoring organization, the New York Road Runners.

Despite being in excellent shape, Dwight Gallagher said she will have to alter training over the next two months. Experts in tower running, as the niche discipline is known, say there’s no training like actually running up stairwells. StairMasters in a gym don’t cut it, and even stadium stairs don’t offer quite the same experience.

“The right training is hard when I live in a town where the highest building is four stories,” Dwight Gallagher said. “I’m at a disadvantage.”

She experienced her first taste of tower trauma while on a recent visit to New York City. She dashed up the stairwell of the hotel where she was staying. A friend who manages a Denver hotel also has pledged to provide her with practice time.

Nancy’s husband, R.J. Gallagher, has little doubt she will adapt to the different style of running required to climb the Empire State Building. After all, she holds the South Dakota High School record for the 100-yard dash, he noted. The year after she set the record, the measurement was switched to meters, guaranteeing she would retain honors in the 100-yard dash, he quipped.

Dwight Gallagher said tower running will be a different experience. The stairwells are narrow and steep. The air is warm and dusty.

“It’s not like being in the outdoors. It’s a sauna,” she said.

She already knows she wants to use handrails to allow her upper body to help her legs. She plans on taking two steps at a time. The motto on her fundraising page says, “One small step for Nancy = one giant step for a cure.”

She pledged to raise at least $2,500 when she entered. She aims to raise at least $3,000. She’s collected $450 thus far and is just starting to seek contributors. Her fundraising page can be found at

More on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation can be found at

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