In a little less than one month, Carie and I fly to Toronto to participate in what I’m calling my first official event for Anyone Can Enter (sorry, potato decorating contest, you were more like an ill-received appetizer).

In its 20th year, the CN Tower Climb for World Wildlife Foundation-Canada is hardly a secret. Then again, I’d never heard of it until a few months ago when the Empire State Building Run-Up received a fair amount of media attention. Turns out, if there’s a fairly tall building near you, there’s probably a charity hoping you’ll fork over some change to climb it in their name. Considering that the Empire State Building Run-Up was past and that the closet alternative seemed paltry by comparison (Winston-Salem has a 30-story climb), I figured the next best thing was the tallest free-standing structure in the Western hemisphere.

So I decided that October’s CN Tower Stair Climb for United Way would make a perfect event. That would give me plenty of time to train for something I had no business attempting without months of sweat-logged hours on a StairMaster. That was all until Carie looked at my proposed schedule and realized she wouldn’t be able to join me. Why not make it a birthday trip for her, too, and do the WWF climb on April 17, instead?

Secretly, I hoped she’d back off this offer. I even told her to sleep on the idea. After that didn’t work, I made us wait another week. But her persistent habit of scouring travel Web sites for the best airfare deals finally won out.

So here we are, a month before the event, and I’m in no shape to climb a stepladder, let alone 1,776 steps skyward. I was somewhat comforted by the WWF’s claim that it takes most people about 30-40 minutes to walk the Tower’s 144 stories. But if I’m going international for the first official Anyone Can Enter event, I think the Canadians deserve my best. While 4 weeks of training may not be ideal, it’s better than nothing.

The WWF’s Web site suggests that taking the stairs where you work is a great way to kickstart your training. I’m guessing that they’re assuming you work at the CN Tower, because I’ve been taking the stairs at work every day for the past month and walking up the stairs is nothing compared to running. Our first training session was supposed to be a casual series of Sunday morning jogs up the six-story building where I work. But on my fourth climb, I got cocky, all-out sprinting the final two stories. Exhausted, I had to call it quits after climbing less than one-fifth of the equivalent of the CN Tower.

If I can barely feel my legs after running up 20 stories, I hate to think how my calves will react to 144 stories. But at least it’s for a good cause. And even if I have no chance of winning this event, I can still compete in one area of the climb. Only with your help, of course.

The person who raises the most money for the WWF will receive a two-night stay at a swank Toronto hotel and a new digital camera. However, you should know that, currently, the top fundraiser has raised nearly $3,000 (I’m assuming those are Canadian dollars, but the conversion rate was about equal the last time I checked). The good news is that I’ve set a modest goal of $100. I’ve already donated $10 to my cause, which should hopefully cover the cost of my t-shirt and top-of-the-tower bottled water.

So if you love panda bears—or even if you’re just mildly amused by them—please visit my sponsor page and donate a few bucks. Or, if you prefer, do the same for Carie.

The pandas thank you.

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