It’s official. We are tower runners!
Both Carie and I finished the CN Tower Climb for WWF (or what I will from henceforth refer to as The Great People Herding Climb: see 6:25 a.m.) in respectable times.
Since today is Carie’s birthday and we’re in a fun city, I don’t want to take too much time reporting about the climb. But here’s a quick log of this morning’s events.
Both our phone alarms sound. We wait 15 minutes to actually wake up.
Our cab driver tells us he goes to Greensboro, NC, on a regular basis. Weird.
We begin standing in line. Forever. The event organizers have line waiting broken down to a freaky science. First, they make you wait in a registration line. Then in a coat check line. Then in a train station walkway, where there is honestly a group of volunteers tasked with the job of holding you inside like cattle, until they finally let a small group outside to face the bitter cold and run a quarter mile to the actual tower entrance. I imagine most of these volunteers are farmers.
We freeze while waiting in another line to get into the CN Tower. I look up at the tower and notice that it appears to be raining at the observation deck, even though I can’t feel any rain. Great, I think, we’re climbing to a totally different level of weather system.
A security guard searches us with metal detectors. This is a hands-free climb, which means we can’t take cameras or cell phones to the top. Apparently, they’re not joking about this.
Once inside, we wait in another line to have our picture taken in front of a green screen.
Another line. This one is to enter a futuristic security checkpoint that blows jets of air all over your body. I’m not ashamed to admit that I rather enjoyed this.
I hand my time card to a volunteer who swipes it through a machine, she hands it back to me, and we’re off!
I break away from Carie. Fortunately, we had previously decided that we wouldn’t try to climb the entire thing together, so there’s no heartfelt goodbyes.
I’m grooving. Who knew this would be so easy?
I’ve been passing folks on nearly every flight to this point. Finally, I pass my first climber who isn’t a girl or a 60-year-old man. And he appears to be in pretty good shape. I’ll be up this thing in no time!
I start to notice that on every landing between flights, there’s a few people taking breaks, sucking wind.
I start to notice that I should probably be one of these people taking a break. My legs feel like the consistency of just-mixed concrete.
Having given up on achieving world-record pace, I stop running and slide into a steady walk. I’m not cruising like I did on the first 30 flights, but I’m still passing plenty of people.
I begin using the handrails to help pull me past many of my fellow climbers.
I continue my steady climb, refusing to stop. But I start to despise the presence of motivational finger paintings hung on the walls by area schoolchildren. Oh, what’s that Jimmy, you want me to HURRY UP and KEEP GOING? You think I’m ALMOST THERE? Jimmy, did your teacher actually make you climb these stairs before you made your latest masterpieces? Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult this is? And, no, I don’t care if I’m SAVING ARCTIC BUNNIES!
I try to start running again. Six steps into it, I start to choke on my own phlegm. I decide to walk again.
I look at my watch. If I start hauling butt again, I could make it to the top in less than 20 minutes. Again, not even close to world-record pace (7 minutes, 52 seconds), but much better than the 30-40-minute clip that most people achieve. I pick up my pace just a bit.
It’s all or nothing. I remember Thomas Dold’s advice to save everything for the last couple of flights. Too bad I’ve got nothing left. Somehow, I summon the strength to run up the final six flights.
Floor 144/7:49:14 a.m.
I hand my time card to another volunteer. I’ve finished in 18 minutes and 17 seconds, well under my goal! Exhausted and drenched in sweat, I nearly cry on the CN Tower for the second time in my life. This time, however, it’s for a good reason.
Wait, what’s this? I’m still climbing up stairs? What the hell’s going on? Apparently, you have to go up another couple flights of stairs to get to the actual observation deck. At least there’s not a line for these steps.
Carie completes her climb in 22 minutes and 48 seconds!
We weave our way through a crowd of hundreds packed into the indoor portion of the observation deck and walk outside. That rain that I thought I saw from the bottom. That’s actually snow. Seriously.
We wait in line for the elevator. Big surprise.
We have our pictures taken with a panda! Sort of.
I realize that it’s time to start thinking of my next endurance challenge. Sure, there’s a potato peeling contest, hollerin’ contest, and egg toss championship in my near future, but none of them call for the kind of butt-kicking training of tower running.
I ride an escalator for the first time in three weeks.
I type this in our hotel room and am thankful for many things since starting this blog about one month ago. Thanks to those of you who have offered support and encouragement. And special thanks to those of you who donated to our climb. Combined, Carie and I raised $250 for the World Wildlife Fund.
For now, I’m going to go see what else Toronto has to offer.