The “Bisbee 1000, The Great Stairclimb” event is the result of a co-operative partnership between City of Bisbee, Herald Review and the non-profit charity, Bisbee Vogue, Inc. of Bisbee, Arizona. This partnership dates to its inception in 1990 when indoor stairclimbing and running events were becoming popular in the US; people were beginning to understand the importance of exercise to health and well-being. 5k and 10k running events were becoming common, therefore, Bisbee 1000, the first outdoor stair climb challenge found an early niche amongst roadrunners as it incorporated stairs and roadways.
Per the American Heart Association (AHA) cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, and women have a higher lifetime risk of stoke than men. Since approximately 60% of our participants are women, this is of special interest to us at Bisbee Vogue, Inc. A consistent stair climbing routine improves cardiovascular health, strengthens the immune system, and builds endurance.
The concept of the Bisbee 1000 arose after Cynthia Conroy, Founder and President of Bisbee Vogue, Inc., read in The New York Times about the health benefits and popularity of stair climbing machines. This new craze inspired her. Bisbee has stairs (over 33,000 of them), why not create an event revolving around exercise and our stairs? The staircases were built to accommodate the exponential growth rate in housing in this town located in the Mule Mountains during its boom years as a copper mining town. The first stairs were made of wood, and they linked parallel streets and enabled housing development from lower to upper levels of the mountains. Later, with funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the wooden stairs were replaced with new concrete stairs.
Under the umbrella of Bisbee Vogue, Inc., and in partnership with The City of Bisbee, Conroy wanted to showcase Bisbee to Arizona, the USA and the world, while at the same time creating an event that would be fun and healthy for anyone who cared to try it. The “Bisbee 1000, The Great Stairclimb” evolved into an event that incorporates just over 1,000 stairs on nine staircases, for a 4.4-mile course located in Historic Old Bisbee.
The event kicked off in October 1991 with 200 participants mainly from Bisbee and Sierra Vista. In 2012, the Bisbee 1000 had the distinction of being designated as an Arizona Centennial Event. Later that year, it was selected as a recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Tourism Award for Special Events in a Rural setting. Add to that, Runner’s World listed it as a premier 5K (although it is actually a 4.4 mile course) in a 2011 article and that same year, the Wall Street Journal wrote an unsolicited article on the Bisbee 1000, identifying it as one of the best road races in the U.S.A. However, as the event began prior to digital measurement it was described as “a 5k that feels like a 10k”, which is still an accurate measurement of the experience.
By the time it celebrated its 23rd year in 2013, the “Bisbee 1000 The Great Stair Climb” had attracted over 2,100 runners/walkers/participants to its beloved stairs. Participants were hailing from 44 states and two countries.
Points of Origin 2022
Entering preparations for the 2014, Bisbee Vogue, Inc. made a conscious decision to limit that year’s registration level to 1,300 participants. The decision was made to facilitate a safer, less crowded experience on the stairs and byways of this unique event. Though registration numbers were decreased, the scope and spread of participants increased from coast-to-coast contributing to the Arizona travel and tourism industry.
For over three decades the health-conscious, the adventurous and the just-plain curious have flocked to Bisbee to ascend the stairs that wind their way through this quaint, enterprising enclave just ninety minutes southeast of Tucson.