TOMS RIVER, N.J. (WTXF) - Sally Kalksma competes in stair climbing competitions for a special reason after her husband died of cancer.
Sally is going up…Way up to the top—only to turn around and gently come back down.
Using every muscle in her body, Sally lunges up 90 floors a day in the parking garage where she works.
She started all of this after she lost her husband Peter to cancer.
“As more adversity hit my life I would take it out on the stairs. I took all my anger out here. I would just climb harder and harder. Faster and faster,” said Sally Kalksma.
At 55, Sally is one of the fastest competitive stair climbers in the world.
“It is a little fire inside of me that I am very competitive with myself and I always want to better myself,” said Sally.
The sport is gaining more popularity every year. Racers start at the bottom floor and leave everything they have on the stairs…all the way to the top.
“Your lungs just freeze up along with all your other muscles and you just see that finish line and you are just kicking for it and the endorphins and the high is amazing,” said Sally.
Elite athletes like Sally make in less than twenty minutes. These races take place inside some of the world’s tallest architectural landmarks. The Willis Tower in Chicago, The Comcast Center in Philadelphia and the Empire State Building in New York with 102 stories.
This year Sally is the only elite American invited to race up the Eiffel Tower’s nearly 1700 steps. A race she was supposed to compete in last year.
Sally says, “I noticed that I was getting sick often and it took me a long time to recover and the same with injuries. I was like, this is not me.”
Sally was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and needed a stem cell transplant.
“A type of blood cancer—cancer of the plasma cells that runs through your bone marrow. It attacks your white cells and it eats away at your blood and then it attacks your bone and then it attacks your organs.”
Sally didn’t give in to her diagnosis. She fought hard and now she is cancer free. She trains several times a day in her home gym and is able to race the Eiffel tower steps this year. Living each day by her late husband’s motto.
“Cancer may take years from my life, but I am not going to take the life out of my years.”