Pictured: Two-time Olympic Gold medallist Alex Gregory taking part in Shelter’s Vertical Rush
Take the stairs. It’s an absolutely classic bit of fitness advice, but when people bring it up, they generally mean a couple of flights here and there to avoid using escalators – not charging up the 932 steps of Tower 42 in the City of London.
Coach did just that with Shelter’s Vertical Rush?in 2017. Well, charged is probably not the right word. We plodded up the stairs. Crawled. Collapsed. Can you collapse up a staircase?
Despite the difficulty involved, tower running is surprisingly good fun, not least because you’re rewarded with a cracking view at the end. If nothing else, an event has more novelty value than a 10K or marathon.
There are other benefits to opting for a tower run over a long run or cycle too. The events are generally pretty short – the tallest buildings in London will take less than 15 minutes to conquer – and if you’re already exercising regularly, you don’t really have to train specifically for a tower run unless you’re dead set on smashing a past PB or target time.
If you are keen on emulating Piotr “Showtime” ?obodziński (that’s right, tower runners get glitzy nicknames), the tower running world champ who clocked an absurd 3min 59sec at Vertical Rush 2017 (Coach’s times were, ahem, slower), we’d recommend building up your general endurance through regular running, as well as strength work in your quads and glutes.
In terms of tactics on the day, start steady rather than opting for an all-out sprint in the first few flights, and make as much use of any bannisters as possible. Pulling yourself along shifts some of the burden from your legs to your upper body.
For more specific training, run up some stairs (obviously) or, if you’re a Londoner, join in with the occasional sessions organised by Tower Running UK.
Got all that? Good. Now here are some UK tower running events to sign up for.
UK Tower Running Events
Guy’s Urban Challenge
Date: 29th September 2018
Location: Guy’s Hospital, London
Stairs: 2.4km run, 15km spin then 648-stair tower run
Sign up: ￡30 plus ￡200 fundraising target, supportgstt.org.uk
Date: 6th October 2018
Location: BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Stairs: 4,200 (Stomp), 7,400 (Extreme Stomp)
Sign up: Stomp ￡20 plus ￡100 fundraising. Extreme Stomp ￡30 plus ￡150 fundraising. samh.org.uk
The Gherkin Challenge
Date: 28th October 2018
Location: The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London
Stairs: 1,037 steps
Sign up: ￡20 plus ￡250 fundraising target, nspcc.org.uk
The Broadgate Tower Run Up
Date: 24th November 2018
Location: Broadgate Tower, London
Stairs: 877 (one-climb event), 2,631 (three-climb event), 10,524 (12-climb event)
Sign up: Single climb ￡30, three climbs ￡40, 12 climbs ￡50, totalmotionevents.co.uk