I subscribe to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity e-newsletter and received an email one Saturday morning, telling me all about their new event: The Walkie Talkie Tower Climb challenge.
Stating “You’ll need thighs of steel, a determined mind and a head for heights if you’re going to tackle the many stairs of 20 Fenchurch Street”, the Walkie Talkie Tower Climb invites participants to sprint to the summit of one of the tallest and most recognisable buildings in the City of London, tackling 828 steps over 36 floors.
The email advised that “you’ll need to be super-fit to take on this run with a difference, which boasts incredible 360 degree views of London when you get to the top.”
My initial thoughts? “How hard can it be?”
My sister was an unfortunate victim of medical negligence when she had cancer, and was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital who saved her life. They were also a tremendous support to my parents. My family has been supporters of the hospital and charity ever since and I’m always peeking at their events and merchandise.
This event sounded like fun; something new and different. I signed up there and then as early-bird entry was just £20 and included an event technical t-shirt, bespoke medal, chip timing and glass of champagne in the Sky Garden upon completion. The event was running between 10am – 2pm and you could choose your own start time. It sounded super generous and almost too good to be true! I’ve always wanted to go the Sky Garden so this was just a no-brainer.
The race packs arrived in the post the week prior and included useful information, the t-shirt, and race number with the timing chip embedded.
So on Saturday 3rd March I caught the train into London Bridge and arrived at the Walkie Talkie building for 10am. The reception was buzzing and the event was obviously very popular. The registration desk was clearly sign-posted and I checked in, picking up a coloured wrist band to exchange for champagne at the top. Baggage could be left securely behind the security desk.
I had actually selected the 11am arrival time which was due to have a warm-up at 11:15 so was way too early, but the lovely staff moved me into an earlier wave without issue and I joined the 10:15 warm-up instead. A few minutes of jumps, stretches and giggles passed with a group of about twenty of us to the side of the reception desk, and then we were given a quick safety briefing and final instructions before being led behind the security barriers to the stairwell.
We were let go in blocks of 15 seconds; I was actually the first one in our wave to get going, which was a bit scary! 15 seconds later I could hear someone starting to come up the stairwell behind me.
I stormed off, taking two stairs at a time and then one at a time by level 10. This event was actually so much harder than I thought it would be and I found that, despite being relatively fit and able to run for hours at a time, I struggled. By level 15 I was sweating severely and struggling to breathe. I had to stop and take my inhaler and then walk instead of run for a few levels. There were lovely, friendly marshals on every other level who shouted praise and words of encouragement, which was motivating and definitely helped. But 828 steps and 36 levels is certainly no easy task and I would say that this was much harder than running a half marathon.
I was glad to see level 36 and walked out into the Sky Garden where I was greeted with whoops and cheers from staff, and a bespoke medal was hung around my neck. Bar staff took my wristband and handed over a glass of champagne and a bottle of water. A TV screen nearby showed live results from the timing chips, with participants’ full names: I took about 7minutes which I think is about average?
I wandered around exploring for a while: There was a lovely, happy buzz around the Sky Garden and I definitely felt a sense of achievement. Overall I LOVED this event and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It was great value for money, the organisation was perfect and it was just really well done and a lovely morning – all for a fantastic cause. 🙂
NEXT UP: The Vitality Big Half, Sunday 4 March 2018