Running marathons (not that I've ever jogged further than my local 7/11) doesn't seem like the most rewarding of experiences. Once you cross the finish line, out of breath and ready for a month-long nap, that's the end of the experience. But it doesn't have to be! Because the sport of vertical running is coming to China on August 3 -- and even if you don't win one of the fabulous prizes, you'll be treated to what is surely the best view in the capital when you make it to the end… or rather the top.
For those who've never heard of the sport, vertical running involves sprinting up some of the world's tallest buildings. The so-called Vertical World Circuit has already seen the Elite Runners of the International Skyrunning Federation take on the 1,576 steps of New York's iconic Empire State Building. Other challenges set for this year include skyscrapers in Vietnam, Spain, Singapore and Brazil -- for a total of eight events.
If the New York vertical marathon sounds tough, sit down and take a deep breath… because the Beijing leg, which is set snake around the stairwell of China World Summit Wing Hotel, involves a staggering 2,041 steps that will transport you 330 metres above the city. All those who manage to make their way -- at whatever speed they can manage -- from the ground floor lobby to the helipad atop the tower will be treated to a glorious 360 degree view of the capital. I've been on the roof myself, just once and on a clear day, and I remember the huge Forbidden City complex being literally the size of my hand.
If that's not cool enough, the whole event is for charity. All proceeds will be donated to Chinese Rural Kids Care (CRKC), which seeks to provide children from poor families in rural areas with free medical insurance. It actually costs 75 yuan to insure a child for one year. And since the Vertical Run entrance fee is 80 yuan, every person who takes part can do so in the knowledge that they are helping a needy child.
However, it's not just altruism that should have you raring to take part -- although it is of course a worthy motivation. For those who put in the training (I suggest starting NOW!), there are also some glorious prizes to be won. The fastest male and female public runners will each receive a mega three-night stay at the soon-to-open Shangri-La Hotel in London, which just so happens to be located in The Shard. Don't worry if you're not the best of the best, though, because other exciting prizes will be given out to competitors in different categories according to age and sex. Everyone's a winner! (Except those who don't win anything, of course.)
Runners can log on to http://verticalrun.cn/or come to the ground floor lobby of China World Summit Wing Hotel to find more information, as well as register and pay to take part in this unique sporting event.