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The 99 Squared

May 19, 2019

University of Pikeville 99 steps

The 99 Squared is a health and fitness competition that is known as “North America’s longest stair-climbing race”. Scheduled for May 19 at the University of Pikeville, individuals and teams of stair climbers will attempt to climb “The 99”, 99 times. Registration for this event will be opening at 12:30 p.m. And will be $25 for teams, $20 for individuals. The competition will begin at 1:00 p.m.

History of the 99

The construction of the 99 Steps occurred sometime in the 1930s. They began as the “88,” or the “Steps to Knowledge.” The 1947 yearbook mentions 90 in a poem:

Up and Down

Ninety steps to college

Lead up from the town,

Ninety steps to learn

To culture and renown.

We hurry up to eight o’clock

But loiter coming down!

In the 1964 yearbook, they are referred to as the “89 Steps.” As construction on and off campus changed the mountainside, the steps were changed to accommodate the distance. With the addition of Hambley Boulevard, the number of steps stayed at 99 until the construction of the Coal Building and the remodel of the entryway. The Pikeville College Arch, which was installed by 1962, stood at the base of the steps until the institution’s name changed to the University of Pikeville. During the remodel, the school removed the arch from the entryway and reinstalled it at the top of the steps leading to the Frank M. Allara Library. On July 1, 2011, the Alumni Association dedicated this arch as a symbol of the history of this institution. According to the event:

The Pikeville College arch once spanned the 99 Steps from downtown Pikeville to the campus on the hill. An arch serves as a gateway and offers an opportunity to enter a new place, which provides an initiation to a new experience. Throughout the years, many students, faculty, staff, and supportive individuals who believed in the mission of this institution walked under this arch to trek to the campus on the hill and the opportunities offered here to embark on a new experience.

Click here to visit the University of Pikeville’s “The 99 History” page.


University of Pikeville
147 Sycamore St.
Pikeville, KY 41501 United States
+ Google Map
(606) 218-5250


Kayla Osborne