I took part in the Great Ormond Street Walkie Talkie Tower Climb last year and absolutely loved it.
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… 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”, 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.
Last year I completely underestimated the challenge, wondering how hard it could be to run up some stairs; and said afterwards that it was much harder than running a half marathon.
However, 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 massive support to my parents. My family has been supporters of the hospital and charity ever since, and I’m always looking at their events and merchandise.
I signed up to the 2019 Walkie Talkie Tower Climb for just £20, which included an event technical t-shirt, bespoke medal, chip timing and glass of champagne in the Sky Garden upon completion. The event was running all morning and you could choose your own start time. It’s a super generous event, as well as being something fun and different! The race packs didn’t arrive in the post however, so the day before the event I contacted the organisers who advised that spare packs could be picked up from reception.
So on Saturday 2 March myself and Adam caught the train into London Bridge and arrived at the Walkie Talkie building for 10am. The registration desk was clearly sign-posted and we collected our race packs, which included useful information, the t-shirt, and race number with a timing chip embedded. We then checked in and took the lift to the toilets were we got changed, before going back down to the reception and checking our baggage in to a secure room with marshals.
I had selected the 10:30am arrival time which was due to have a warm-up at 10:45 and start at 11am. A few minutes of jumps and stretches passed with a group of about twenty/thirty of us in front 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.
I was wearing Ivy Park leggings, Karrimor base-layer, trainer socks and new Adidas Cloudfoam Pure trainers with the technical event t-shirt; plus had a Runr hoody in my bag for travelling in.
We were let go in blocks of about 10 seconds; Adam was the third and I was the fourth one in our wave to get going, which was exciting! Last year I stormed off, taking two stairs at a time and becoming a hot sweaty mess before level 10, and then really struggling the rest of the way. This year I started slowly and alternated between taking the stairs two at a time and one at a time, meaning that I didn’t struggle as much or have to stop. However once again, this event was much harder than I thought it would be or than I remembered, and I found that, despite being relatively fit and able to run for hours at a time, I definitely found it challenging!
There were marshals on every other level – some shouted praise and words of encouragement whilst some just watched – but mostly they were motivating and friendly. 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 Adam!), and a bespoke medal was hung around my neck by a lovely volunteer. Bar staff took my wristband in exchange for a glass of champagne and water. A TV screen nearby showed live results from the timing chips, with participants’ full names: sadly though, my timing chip must have been broken as I don’t have an official time or appear in the online results. I took about 8 minutes last year and like to think that I perhaps shaved 30-45 seconds off this year!
We wandered around exploring for a while, although the upstairs of the Sky Garden was cornered off this year. There was a lovely, happy buzz and I definitely felt a sense of achievement. Once again, I loved this event and would highly recommend it. It was great value for money, the organisation was fab and it was just really well done and a great morning – all for a fantastic cause. 🙂
NEXT UP: The Vitality Big Half, Sunday 10 March 2019