1037 steps, 38 floors x5!
The Gherkin challenge is one of the NSPCC’s biggest annual fundraising events now in it’s 5th year. It involves running up the 1037 steps from the bottom to the top of the 38 floors of the Gherkin tower in London.
I first heard about this event in 2013 and decided to give it a go as I saw it as a great challenge different to anything else I’ve ever done before. I performed quite well finishing with the 4th fastest time of the weekend in 5 minutes 38 seconds.
When planning my challenges for 2014 this was one of the first events on the list but this time I wanted to push myself even more. Firstly by going faster but secondly by doing even more so I set myself a target of going up 5 times during the day. I was told by the event organisers that nobody had ever attempted anything like this before.
I arrived in London, along with my mum who I’d somehow managed to talk into accompanying me for one of my climbs, to find the event was much bigger than the previous year. There was a lot more going on at ‘base camp’ including old fashioned fairground stalls, deck chairs, live music and a team of Hula-hoop performers and much more participants.
My first run was in the 11am wave and the plan was to hit this one as hard as I could with the aim of beating last years time. I had tactics in mind of starting steady and maintaining a single step patten throughout the climb but that went out the window straight away as I found myself trying to keep the lead with a fast paced double stepped approach. This didn’t last for long though as lactic acid began to rear it’s ugly head and the pace slowed. I had to use every bit of strength and endurance that I’ve built up over the last year or so to make it to the top with any chance of being quicker than last year. I had no thought whatsoever in my head of my plan to attempt another 4 climbs. This was all about speed.
I reached the finish line stopping the clock at 5.36.00. Exactly 2 seconds faster that last year. I knew if I had of kept to my tactical plan I could have gone quicker still but I was happy enough to have achieved my first target then set about the next one of getting all the runs in.
At 11.30am I was off again. I had no real plan for this one so decided to have a test of just how much the first run had taken out of me by pushing hard from the start again. I found the second half very tough but managed to get up less than a minute slower this time in 6.34.
I was then off in the 12pm wave with my mum. We ran together the whole way and I was able to be relaxed enough to take some photos and give her some encouragement as she gave it all she had to reach the top in a very respectable 9.27. I then stayed at the top with her to take in the breathtaking view of London while enjoying the free glass of champagne on offer before heading back down in the lift for run number 4.
I started off at 12.45pm feeling really good after a slightly slower run and managed to get the pace just right this time to finish strongly in another sub 7 minute clocking of 6.55.
My mum had stayed at the top so I had a little chat with her as well as meeting the NSPCC’s president who was very gracious of my efforts before heading back down for the last run.
I thought this wave was going off at 1.30pm but it wasn’t until 1.45pm so I had 15 extra minutes of recovery time that I filled by laying on one of the deck chairs watching the entertainment in the beautiful London sunshine.
Another quick warm up and I was off for the final time. I wanted to finish in style and had now managed to get my pacing just right so flew up in my second fastest time of the day in 6.15. I celebrated with another class of well earned champagne at the top and collected my 5th medal of the day.
My time of 5.36 ended up being the joint 6th fastest time of the day with the fastest being 5.18. My second fastest time of 6.15 made it into the top 30 times and with my 6.34 I had managed to record 3 times in the top 50. The average time for this event is 11 minutes.
This had been a great challenge that I was able to really enjoy as well as getting a great workout, setting a PB and being made to feel really proud by some absolutely fantastic marshals, volunteers and NSPCC workers.