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Age Is Served at Empire State Run

February 7, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ They could have taken advantage of the $2 senior citizen discount for an elevator ticket to the 86th floor.

Instead, 11 eleven runners _ all 60 or older _ did it the hard way Wednesday, dashing up the 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building.

Chico Scimone, 89, was the oldest runner in the race. The bald, bespectacled pianist from Sicily was competing in the Empire State Run-up for the 11th time.

``I just want to give an example to everyone,″ said Scimone, who came in last at 35 minutes, 5 seconds. ``This is an age you should look forward to.″

The winner for the third straight year was 24-year-old Paul Crake of Australia, who led the field of 154 runners and broke his record for the event.

He was timed in 9:37 in the 24th annual race at the landmark building. Holger Munkelt of Germany was second in 11:02 and Sproule Love of New York was third in 11:09.

``The race went pretty much as I planned,″ Crake said. ``There was a lot of pushing and shoving at the start but then I settled in.″

Women’s defending champion Cindi Moll, 32, of Indianapolis had little trouble in winning for the third time in the last four years in 12:45. Nelly Simon of Mexico was second in 14:20 and Fiona Bayly of New York was third in 14:30.

Philip Florie, 61, didn’t have to come far for the run. The retired New York police officer has worked as a security guard at the building for four months.

This was his first time racing up the stairs _ he usually takes the elevator _ and when he bounded up the last flight he flashed two thumbs-up. Florie finished 140th in 21:54.

``My main concern was finishing, and I did it,″ said Florie, as he sipped water on the 86th floor. ``It’s a challenge. I’m over 60 and I wanted to prove I can do it.″

John Laszek, 63, of Chadds Ford, Pa., finished just behind Florie in 22:07 in his fourth year in the run. Laszek has climbed stairs all over the world, including at the Tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument.

``Everything that I’ve read about longevity tells me that the more active you are and the higher you set the bar of life, the longer you’ll survive,″ said Laszek, a retired high school guidance counselor.

Donald Nash, a 70-year-old biology professor at Colorado State, trained for the race by running early in the morning in university buildings.

``It’s a religious experience because you’re all alone in the stairwell and it’s very quiet,″ said Nash, who finished 149th in 26 minutes.

He occasionally runs the stairs in the three-story anatomy and zoology building on campus. He says his students probably think he’s crazy.

``But once you get to a certain age, people appreciate just that you do anything,″ he said.

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