OMAHA, Neb. -- An event in Omaha that challenges participants to climb 40 floors celebrated its 17th year on Saturday.

Trek Up the Tower is a community event held every February as a fundraiser to support The Wellbeing Partners’ (TWP). The in-person event is sponsored by Fist National Bank of Omaha and has drawn in climbers from around the nation.

Trek Up the Tower saw participants of all fitness levels. Racers climbed the 40 floors of the First National Tower in downtown Omaha. Proceeds from the event benefit The Wellbeing Partners. The event was held virtually for the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions and this year both in-person and virtual participation was offered, with Mutual of Omaha as the virtual presenting sponsor.

The event challenged participants to run up all 870 stairs of the First National Tower; some in record time, while others were first-time climbers with the goal of finishing. Virtual participants tracked their movement on a platform called MoveSpring.

There were 698 participants registered for the event, either in-person or virtually. Virtual competition will finish on March 18 and results will be posted to their website.

The event began at 6:30 a.m. with a section called “Real-Life Heroes” where firefighters from the Bellevue and Omaha Fire Departments, along with members of the Omaha Police Department, took on the 870 stairs in their full gear.

The official countdown for the first racers in the Elite racing category started at 7:00 a.m. Those who were participating in the Vertical Mile competition also started at this time but they would be go up 10.3 times in order to complete one vertical mile. The event was scheduled to last until around 11:00 a.m.

Eight-time Trek competitor Ben Smail, of Omaha, managed to break the record for the fastest Vertical Mile at 57 minutes and 34 seconds. He was also the fastest single climb for men.