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Man Wants To Set Record For Highest Pizza Delivery By Climbing The Hancock

By Mae Rice in Food on Feb 26, 2016 6:43PM

Joe Aurelio, 53, owner of Chicagoland's Aurelio's Pizza franchise (photo courtesy of Amelia Dellos)

Joseph Aurelio, owner of Chicago's Aurelio’s Pizza franchise, has always been a fit guy, but Sunday will be his first Hustle Up The Hancock.

He’s going into the race ambitious, too. Aurelio, 53, is trying to set a world record for “Highest Pizza Delivery on Foot.” He’ll take the stairs up to the Hancock’s 95th floor—all 1,623 of them—carrying a cheese pizza from his pizzeria.

This wasn’t always the plan, Aurelio told Chicagoist. At first, he just signed his pizza franchise up to sponsor Hustle Up The Hancock. The race is a Chicago institution, and one that benefits the Respiratory Health Association—a cause close to Aurelio’s heart.

“Lung health is so important,” he said. “My grandpa passed of emphysema, and my son has asthma. I figured, what a great cause.”

As part of the sponsorship, he and his team planned to deliver 20 pizzas to the volunteer medics who staff the event. They man the hallways and staircases “all over the building,” Aurelio explained, in case a runner needs medical attention, but they especially congregate at the finish line.

Aurelio decided it would be a fun and potentially record-setting challenge to deliver the first of the 20 pizzas on foot. (The rest will get delivered via elevator.)

Based on his research, no one has done anything quite like this before—although in 2009, Papa John’s did half-heartedly try for the highest pizza delivery.

“[The Papa John’s rep] got in an elevator with pizza… [and] he just took an elevator, went to the top of the Willis Tower here in Chicago, came back down, and gave his pizza away [to the staff],” Aurelio said. “He was trying to get a record.”

The Tribune confirms this story: A driver from the company, Stephen Walker, accompaneid Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, on an elevator ride to the tower’s Skydeck. However, no one had ordered their 15 pizzas, the Tribune reports, and the pizzas weren’t even eaten on the 103rd floor—they were given away in the ground-floor break room.

So this attempt will be a little more rigorous. For one, as Aurelio pointed out, “there’s an actual pizza order.”

For another, he’ll deliver it on foot, starting at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday. A friend of his will go with him, filming the whole delivery on a GoPro camera. Aurelio says they might livestream it, if they can figure out how; they’ll at least post the video on Facebook after the fact.

“I’ve been training,” Aurelio said. Since February, he’s been taking Hancock-esque climbs on the stair machine at his local gym. As of this morning, his time was down to 19:59, though he wasn’t sure he could recreate that while carrying a pizza.

“I won’t be able to hold onto the [stair machine] handles, or move my arms. I’m a little concerned about keeping my arm up in the air… it’s a long way to go.”

Still, he’s excited for the event. And though Aurelio undertook this too recently to file the proper paperwork to get a Guinness judge out to watch his delivery, he’s not ruling a Guinness World Record out.

“I’d repeat [the Hustle Up The Hancock] next year and try to beat my time,” he said.

It’s not all about record-setting for Aurelio, though. He’s trying to get his friend to make an edible Hustle Up The Hancock logo—”like you use for birthday and wedding cakes”—to put on top of his hand-delivered pizza.

“I want to make sure that everyone remembers the event is about them, not about me.”