Do you fancy doing something different from your normal run? Something that is challenging but will be over in less than 12 minutes? And at the same time raise money for people facing homelessness? Then Vertical Rush is for you!
You may remember that back in January I found out that I’d got a place on the Women’s Running magazine team for Shelter’s Vertical Rush. When I read about the challenge I surprised myself by wanting to take part. Something that would be hard work, indoors and not like any of my usual runs. When I got my place I felt a mixture of excitement and horror, what exactly had I signed up for? Well it turned out to be rather fun.
Vertical Rush is a tower run and the runners set off in waves. Our wave was at 12.30, a nice time which allowed team members to travel to London without getting up ridiculously early. We all arrived by 11.40 and gathered in the bag drop area. Much of the conversation was on how much training we had done since the training day back in January. None of us had any idea what sort of time we’d do but we asked the Shelter organiser what the average time was and she said around 8-10 minutes.
Less than 10 minutes to run up 932 stairs! That seemed outrageously fast.
The waiting area was filling up nicely and I noticed there was a row of static bikes just outside in the courtyard. A number of people were using them as part of their warm up. I guess if you were hoping for a quick time getting your muscles properly warmed up is a must. You don’t get much time once you are on the stairs.
We discussed our approach to the stairs with almost all the other team members saying they were going for two at a time. I tried this on our training day and found it very tough so said I was going to keep to single steps.
Finally we were taken into the rather magnificent main hall for a briefing before heading outside for a quick warm up, accompanied by a jazz quartet. Needless to say the sight of 100 people dressed in red tops jumping up and down with trombones and trumpets playing caused a bit of a stir with passersby, many of whom got their phones out to film the spectacle.
Then it was the run itself. We were taken to a back entrance and the faster people made their way to the front. People set off every two seconds in order to make sure there wasn’t too much crowding.
As I neared the front I reminded myself to take it steady but as soon as I was through the doors I ran! I always find it hard not to go for it at the start of a race, too much nerves! But after the first flight or so I got into a rhythm. About a third of the way up the stairs my legs were really hurting, especially my thighs, but I carried on using the handrail to help pull me up.
It was really tough and the toughest part was when there were only two storeys left to go. Those last few flights were really hard work. But I made it and I was so relieved to walk through the finishing door.
As soon as we walked through the door we were given a bottle of water which I guzzled down. It was surprisingly thirsty work.
A few seconds after I sat down to recover one of my team mates came up to me and said I was the first one from the team to finish. I really thought there was at least one other person in front of me so I was really surprised. I was even more surprised when I got a text a few seconds later which said I finished in 9 minutes 14 seconds. Under 10 minutes and a lot faster than it felt!
We all relaxed at the top, enjoying the view, recovering our breath and taking silly pictures by the “You Did It!” sign.
All in all it was a tough but short race. It was fantastic to be part of the Women’s Running team, I don’t think this is a race I would ever have taken part in if I wasn’t. The encouragement I got from my team mates and the fantastic training day was a huge bonus. So a huge thank you to both the magazine and Shelter for making me part of the team.
So if you fancy a challenge that is unlike anything you have done before then think about signing up for Vertical Rush in 2016. You might surprise yourself!