Eight hundred and forty-seven runners from across the globe, the five boroughs and Long Island climbed 102 floors at One World Trade Center at the crack of dawn Sunday to honor those killed in the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11.
The winner, Thomas Dodd of Germany, tied with Darren Wilson of Australia. Both clocked in at 12 minutes. Coming in second for the women was Long Island native Shari Klarfeld, 36, of Plainview, mother of three. She came at 15:47 minutes beating last year’s 16:40.
“I feel good,’’ she said at the finish line of the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb. “I will definitely be here next year. This is such a good cause,’’ she said as she took in the pinkish red sunrise view from One World Observatory — a 360-degree panorama that spans from the Long Island Sound to the Catskill Mountains.
The annual event honors the life of fallen FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller. He ran from Brooklyn through the Battery Tunnel on 9/11 with his fire gear to respond to the burning towers. He died in the collapse.
“Climbing those 2,226 steps is retracing the heroic acts of those we know about and those we do not know about,’’ said Frank Siller, Stephen’s brother. “This is an important event. We can’t forget as we carry on.’’
Those who attended also expressed sympathy for the families who lost loved ones in Saturday’s night’s London Bridge terrorist attack where three mean using a van and knives killed seven people and wounded 48. The attackers were shot and killed within minutes by police. This is the third terrorist attack in the past three months in Britain.
“We have become accustomed to it. It has become a fact of life,’’ said retired FDNY Battalion Chief Jack Oehm, who lost 20 men on the morning of Sept. 11 “and a lot of friends.’’
Oehm, 58, who climbs One World Trade each year, said: “We don’t know when these people will become radicalized and when they will attack. But we can never give up. We have to keep living our lives and keep our heads up and be alert.’’
Army Lt. Col. Rachael Hoagland, 43, climbed the stairs in her army fatigues. Hoagland, who served three years in the Middle East and now is stationed at the Pentagon, said she participates in the fundraiser annually because “I think it is important to remember and reflect on the men and women who have died to protect us. These people are willing to put their lives in danger and they are amazing people.’’
Three months after Sept. 11, Stephen Siller’s family and friends organized a run where hundreds of firefighters retraced Siller’s run through the Battery Tunnel to the Trade Center. The charity’s fundraisers have paid the mortgages of first responders who have died in the of duty and for handicapped-accessible homes for returning amputee soldiers. Siller said Sunday’s event raised between $400,000 and $500,000.
In 2016, the foundation paid for the mortgages and home renovations for NYPD police officer Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Both officers were killed in 2015, when sitting in their patrol cruiser in Brooklyn. A lone gunman shot and killed both of them because they were police officers.