Racers get ready for annual Empire State climb Racers get ready for annual Empire State climb The Empire State Building towers above nearby structures in New York City. the associated press Feb. 05, 2014 Comments NEW YORK (AP) — It’s up, up and away! More than 500 people will be taking the long way to the 86th floor observatory at the Empire State Building — via the stairs. No, the elevators are working just fine. The racers are taking part in the 37th annual Empire State Building Run-Up on Wednesday night. They’ll be climbing 1,576 steps. Participants are coming from around the world, and they include some top athletes. The fastest climbers can get to the observation deck in mere minutes. The event is put on by the New York Road Runners, which also puts on the annual New York City Marathon. The Empire State Building race is among the more high-profile tower climbs in the world.