BISBEE — She believes in community, health and doing good. At 72, Cynthia Conroy, the woman who founded the wildly popular Bisbee 1000 The Great Stair Climb, sounds unstoppable.
This week, the Herald/Review did a phone interview with Conroy to learn more about how the event — now in it’s 29th year — climbed to such heights.
Herald/Review: What prompted you to start the Bisbee 1000?
Cynthia Conroy: “I had started a non-profit for health...I read in the New York Times that stair climbing machines were the big thing at that moment (1980s) and I said, ‘We have stairs!’ So I started it as a health event. But it’s really a celebration of the history of the heart of Old Bisbee. This is a walking town. There are many houses that you can’t get to here unless you go up the stairs.”
HR: When was the first Bisbee 1000 and how many people participated?
CC: “The first was in 1990. We had 200 people participate. At least 50 percent were kids between the ages of 7 and 15. But then the kids dropped out because the adults began taking over the event.”
HR: How many people are participating this year?
CC: “We’re at 1600 and we sold out by June 19. It’s been selling out early since we started [in 1990]. Sign up for next year’s event is at high noon the day of the event. I think we could be sold out by January.”
HR: Are most of the participants locals?
CC: “Yes, for the first year. But the second year, we had 300 people with the majority being from Sierra Vista and beyond. Now, 20 percent are from Phoenix and less than one percent are from Bisbee. This year we have 1,200 people from Arizona, 300 from out of state, five people from Alaska and the rest from Mexico and other countries.”
HR: What is the age range of this year’s participants?
CC: “The youngest is 8 and the oldest is 89.”
HR: Is there an age limit for the Bisbee 1000?
CC: “You have to be 7 years old to whatever!”
HR: have you ever done the Bisbee 1000?
CC: Yes, once. It was the ninth or 10th one. I did it with a friend. We were a lot younger then!”
HR: What else do you like doing besides thinking about and planning the Bisbee 1000?
CC: “I love to get in my car, drive out of town and go on vacation!”