Step by Step: Race to the Top

James Ochse crossing the finish line at his first Empire State Building Run-Up. Photo Courtesy / East Stroudsburg University
James Ochse crossing the finish line at his first Empire State Building Run-Up. Photo Courtesy / East Stroudsburg University

James Ochse crossing the finish line at his first Empire State Building Run-Up.
Photo Courtesy / East Stroudsburg University

By Eric Kump
Assistant News Editor

On February 4, James Ochse, from ESU’s class of 1977 and 1987, competed in the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Ochse said that this will be his final race. His final time clocked in at 11 minutes and 42 seconds, winning his division (ages 60 to 64).

According to nyrr.org, over 400 athletes come to Manhattan to race in the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Eighty-six floors, totaling up to 1,576 steps, are climbed as the contestants stride for the finish line.

The Empire State Building Run-Up has been going on since February 15, 1978, and just finished its 38th run on February 4.

The run is held annually to benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer that starts in the plasma cells of the bone marrow, where all the blood cells are produced.

This past year, 59 members from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation ran in the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Even though Ochse ran in large races like this one, he started running at home.

From a young age, Ochse had been chasing his grandfather’s cows and loved the feeling of hitting the dirt road and the freedom of running across the countryside.

Ochse has been running since his early days at East Stroudsburg University. His time here led him to meet Dick DeSchriver, whom Ochse considered a mentor.

Ochse graduated in 1977 with a degree in environmental studies and then returned 10 years later to earn a second degree in physical education and athletic training.

Living on the campus, Ochse felt that it prepared him for the rest of his life.

Having help from his professors, he was constantly advised by the philosophies that set his future goals.

“I felt like a big brother to most of my classmates,” he said.

He continued, “I had grown up a lot and it allowed me to bring a new perspective to the classroom.”

When Ochse made the choice to return, he admitted that he felt different being a non-traditional student.

Before completing his first race, Ochse created close ties with Olympic New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard and Olympic marathoner Red Corbett.

“I met Red Corbett in 1976 in New York City — he saw my potential and became my mentor,” he said.

He continued, “Arthur Lydiard also gave me a lot of good advice and helped me become a nationally ranked ultra-marathoner from 1980-1985.”

He claims that these relationships made him the runner who he strived to become.

Ochse won his first run-up in 1980, two years after the premier of the event itself.

His time then was 12 minutes and 19 seconds.

He recalls receiving national media attention a few days prior to the country’s “Miracle on Ice.”

Ochse chased his athletic training goals and they took him to Arizona, Florida, and West Virginia.

In 1999, Ochse settled in at DeSales University, where he then spent eleven years.

When he left DeSales, he opened a personal fitness business, James W. Ochse Fitness and Consulting, to coach runners and create programs based on their speed and agility.

Ochse plans to spend the rest of his life now as “an ordinary person who does extraordinary things.”
Email Eric at:
ekump@live.esu.edu

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