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Running

Vertical Rush – Who Knew Tower Running Was A Thing?

Could you race up 42 floors of a skyscraper for charidee? Well, Lee off of Blue did so yes, you probably could

If you’re the kind of crazy-ass stair lover who shuns lifts and bounds up escalators, Vertical Rush could just be your dream event.

An event in aid of housing and homelessness charity Shelter, competitors race to the top of London skyscraper Tower 42, conquering 932 steps and 590 feet along the way.


And while walking/running/crawling your way up a mahoosive tower may be tough on the old legs, one bonus is that it’s all over pretty quickly. Most entrants finish in under ten minutes, and are rewarded with some rather lovely views across our fair capital for their trouble.

Around 1,000 people of all ages and abilities enter every year, with this year’s event taking place on 3 March. But what kind of twisted mind comes up with this sort of challenge? And just how much does it hurt? We spoke to event organiser Lizzi Wagner of Shelter and previous competitor Rebecca Cox to find out.

Lizzi Wagner is the lady in charge of this skyscraper-scaling madness

So, Lizzi, how did you come up with this kind of crazy?
“It was inspired by the Empire State Building race in New York. Tower-running is pretty popular over the pond but no one had offered it in the UK before we launched in 2009. We thought it would be a fun way to raise money for families battling bad housing and homelessness.”

Is this one for the super-fit or can anyone enter?
“It’s definitely one for everyone: we’ve got an 80-year old running this year, and someone juggling footballs all the way up. That said, there are super-fit people too. Last year’s winner completed it in 4 minutes 55 seconds!”

Much gasping and dizziness at the finish, is there?
“Ha, well people are obviously exhausted but there’s an amazing atmosphere – lots of cheering and selfies against the panoramic views of London’s skyline.”

So is it cheating to take the lift?
“Definitely! The race starts in the stairwells and there’s no access to the lifts, so the only way up is to run…”

Rebecca Cox ascended the tower last year, and she didn’t walk

Err, why, Rebecca?
“To be honest I entered kind of by accident. A group of guys from work were doing it as a team and when one dropped out, I took his place.”

When did the hurt kick in?
“I ran the whole thing, so pretty much straight away. From about the third level my breathing was ragged and my ass was in agony. But it was all over pretty quickly so it was easy to ignore the discomfort and push on.”

Best and worst bits?
“The best bit was it was over so quickly. The worst bit was it was over so quickly! I’d just started to get into the swing of things and enjoy myself when it finished. I was pretty pleased there was a lift back down though.”

Any advice for those thinking of doing it this year?
“Do some hill runs in training to get your legs and bum used to working hard. It also helps if you enter with friends as you can encourage each other on the way up – it’s much harder to stop when you mates are literally up your ass.”

Training Tips

Tempted by this year’s Vertical Rush? Follow our top three tips for tower-running infamy:

  1. Use the handrails – professional tower runners (yes, they exist) use a slingshot approach to haul themselves up at each stairwell turn.
  2. Wear a glove – Tower 42 is a left-spiral staircase, so wearing a cycling glove on your left hand will allow for extra grip and minimise blisters.
  3. Pound the treadmill – if you can’t find endless flights of stairs to train on, set the treadmill on a steep incline at the gym instead.

For further info and to enter, visit the official Vertical Rush site

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