798 stairs over 46 floors to conquer the tallest building in Manchester, the Beetham Tower. My Garmin currently reads 0.0miles ran and yet my body reads a very different distance!
“The only way is up…Baby!!”
Yes indeed, the only way is up. Not just a lyric from the old school tune by Yazz, but also the reality of this morning’s race. I was going 100% vertical. Oh, this was gonna hurt like a bitch. Despite this, I was still very excited to get started. I’m clearly a complete idiot 🙂
This was such a surreal start for a race. For those of you that have not been in the Beetham Tower, it contains the Hilton hotel and the famous bar, Cloud 23. A rather pricey place to go for a drink and not the kind of place you would usually attend wearing your shorts and vest. So to be stood at reception getting counted down before embarking on a dash to the emergency staircase was quite different. The last time I was here was taking my Dad for drink for his birthday and I was in my fancy gear. That’s right, I own something other than running clothes!
Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh yes, I was about to attack 46 floors of madness. Or they were about to attack me. One or the other.
Having never done a race of this nature before, I had no strict tactics. I knew that this was going to be seriously tough so it was going to be a judgement call as I progressed.
I ran 2 steps at a time, not 1, trying to mix it up after a few floors but 1 step at a time just wasn’t enough! It felt like far more effort.
What a beast of a course!
My legs were obviously going to get smashed but I could handle that pain. I’ve pushed these 2 lumps through far worse than this before now. The real factor in this race was breathing. Something I certainly prefer to be doing rather than not doing. I prefer not to compromise when it comes to allowing oxygen to enter my lungs!
By the time I got to roughly 50% of the way through the race, I realised that my chest was getting tight. I hadn’t swallowed since I started and my throat and lungs were working against me. The bastards!
“I really need all the help I can get here lads…don’t be giving up on me now you swines! Come on…Just 23 more floors!”
23 more floors? What am I doing? What a tit
I began to slow down, getting up each flight fairly well still but it was more of a short burst every other push up the stairs. It was no longer a constant running motion. Far from it. I probably looked like a body being dragged up by the time I was approaching the top.
I was the 6th person to begin in wave number 1 but I was 1st to the top with a time of 5 minutes 3 seconds. I will be honest, I was pretty damn happy with my time. The official record prior to this was 5 minutes 19 seconds and I had it in my head that I wanted to beat that, with no actual idea of how achievable that was. As it turns out, that was a feet that I could achieve!
My race was complete, but the day was far from over. Due to the nature of a staircase race, the waves were staggered over 4 hours during the day. I ran at 10am but there were others competing until 2pm.
After receiving my complimentary glass of bubbly along with a very good sports massage with the best view in Manchester, I was eagerly watching the screen of finishers times as the second wave came in. Everyone in my wave seemed impressed with my finishing time and I started to believe that I had a chance of being in the top 3, but as wave 2 progressed, my time was beaten by 2 other runners. I’ll be honest, I was a bit gutted. I was still over the moon with my time but once you see that position number 1 next to your name, you want to keep it!
I couldn’t sit and watch this for the next 3 hours. It was like torture hahaha. Time for food and a coffee! I’d return just after 2 to see where I’d finished. This waiting game had me guessing that I would drop quite a few places during the day but I was praying that I could stay as high up the list as possible.
Back up to Cloud 23 to see the final standings…
5th place! I didn’t drop as far as I had predicted throughout the day, but seeing that 3rd place was only 13 seconds faster than me, I can’t help wondering if I could have pushed harder than I did. Damn that top 3 would have tasted sweet!
Getting so close to the top 3 made me want it even more than I already knew. The fact that I had ran in the 1st wave allowed me to be positioned high from an early stage in the day. In hindsight, this probably made it a much tougher day as I had a fairly optimistic view that I would finish in the top 3. Well, that was until the next wave had run and then I was thinking that it would be more like 8th or 9th by the day’s end.
It’s a good thing that I wanted it so much and most certainly not a negative. It will be the very emotion that I will call upon next time I’m this close to a top 3 finish and I will use it to push me even harder at that very point, and then, hopefully, it will be the very thing that breaks me into that top 3 on that future occasion.
The Beetham Tower race was a tough few minutes work, it really was, but as expected…as with every new crazy run that I try, I will no doubt find more of this type of race to fill the void of those immense endorphins I crave once I’ve experienced them hahaha. Runners… We’re all frickin mental.
Happy running everyone and as always, thanks for reading!!!