With very little potential for stair training in Brisbane before the inaugural Hounslow Classic on 10th October, I figured Brisbane’s tallest stair race, the 55 floor River to Rooftop, was a great opportunity. Of course, I have never done a stair race before and demonstrated my extreme ignorance at the start line. As the announcer was describing the staircase we were about to climb, I was looking through the Eagle One One One glass doors towards 10 steps that lead into the main foyer. I turn to one of the blokes in a Stair Climbing Australia singlet and ask where the rest of the stairs are and get the (somewhat puzzled) response, “Just through the door”. But I thought I was looking at the door! After further pestering on my behalf I realised he was talking about the open fire escape door…rookie error!
To avoid congestion in the stairwell, we were sent of individually, 15 seconds apart. I was the third runner to start and after sprinting through the fire door (not the front door!) I found myself in a narrow corridor, bouncing off the walls like a pinball before hitting the stairs. It was time for me to be ignorant again; I wasn’t really sure of the fastest strategy to get up the stairs. I started off leaping up 2-3 stairs at a time while pushing off the walls (which were fairly close together) with both arms. This lasted several floors before I quickly realised it was unstainable and reverted to more of a hike, hauling myself up with both arms on the handrail to my left (the stairs run anticlockwise going up). This reminded me of working the chain-section of the Pomona King of the Mountain, so I figured it would work.
I passed the first and second runner and continued my way up, watching the floor numbers fly by. I didn’t really have any mental capacity to think about anything other than driving myself upwards as quickly as possible. With 2 floors remaining, I reverted to my leaping and pushing off the walls strategy and at the top floor started to sprint. I was so focused on running has hard as I could that I missed the timing mat at the top and one of the race officials had to stop me from charging out the window of the 55th floor…at least after that I couldn’t make any more rookie mistakes! My winning time of 5min 33sec made this by far the shortest race I’ve done since 2011 and I later realised also my first “off-trail” event since 2011 as well! No wonder I still have so much to learn about running up towers!