At 80, Shirley Lansing was the oldest woman in Sunday's Big Climb at the Columbia Center benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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She was barely breaking a sweat, emerging from the staircase at the top of a 69-story climb to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“I thank God for taking me to the top,” said Shirley Lansing, who at 80 was the oldest woman in Sunday’s Big Climb at the Columbia Center benefiting the charity. “I was thankful I was able to do it. The challenge was mental, keeping a steady pace.”

Lansing, from Bellevue, had never made the climb before. But as a breast-cancer survivor herself, she believed it was a worthy cause.

For the past six weeks she’d been training, climbing the 60 flights at the Seattle Municipal Tower to prepare for Sunday’s climb.

“This was a simple thing, not a complicated thing,” she said. “You just put one foot ahead of the other and up you go. My life has complexities to it, so I was excited to do something simple.”

Lansing owned a local company, General Employment Services, from 1957 to 1995. She was vice president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the second woman admitted to the Rainier Club. She lost her son, a helicopter pilot, in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War.

Lansing did the walk with P.J. Glassey, who owns X Gym in Kirkland, where she trained. Glassey did the climb by himself and then did it a second time with Lansing. She reached the top in 35 minutes, 13 seconds.

Six thousand climbers from 19 states and Canada climbed the 1,311 stairs to get to the top of Seattle’s tallest building. An estimated $1.3 million was raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Anders Jacobsen, an 85-year-old retired logger from Everett, was the oldest man doing the climb. The youngest climber in the leukemia fund-raiser was 5..

The 2010 Big Climb was dedicated to the memory of Madison Valley’s Ezra Sherman, a 10-year-old who lost his battle with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) last year. “Team Ezra” had 49 climbers and raised more than $12,000.

Canadian Shaun Stephens-Whale, 20, was the first to reach the top of the tower Sunday, completing the climb in seven minutes, 17 seconds. The women’s title was won by Seattle’s Kourtney Dexter, 29, who finished in nine minutes, 19 seconds.

Climb sponsors said about 13,000 Americans were diagnosed with AML in 2008 and about 1 million Americans are living with leukemia, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome.

As for Lansing, she hopes to be back next year. “But when you’re 80 you never know what’s happening next year,” she said.

Next week, she’ll be back in training at the Seattle Municipal Tower. “At 80 you take each goal one step at a time,” she said.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or