Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, the tallest building in the UK outside London, has joined the global phenomenon of tower running – the sport that sees athletes ascend many flights of stairs in the quickest time possible.
Portsmouth is to hold its own race in October, with the fastest man and woman being flown to New York next year to take part in the famous Empire State Building Run-Up, which we told you about previously on this blog. The races are part of a series organised by the World Federation of Great Towers – a body of 37 of the world’s tallest structures across 20 countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan and China.
The Spinnaker Tower, built in 2005, has a grand total of 587 steps, with the current record for ascending to the top being just under four minutes. Organisers of October’s event expect that record to be smashed as climbing specialists attempt the challenge. The race could even attract competitors from overseas, just as the Empire State Building event does.
The 170-metre tall tower overlooks Portsmouth Harbour and can be seen from the Isle of Wight. It offers amazing views of the city, the Solent and the ongoing development along the coast that has attracted many wealthy buyers, with the total viewing distance extending to 23 miles on a clear day. If you’re feeling brave, the tower also features Europe’s largest glass floor, offering a clear view to the bottom of the tower.
The tower’s staircase is very unusual due to it being triangular, rather than rectangular or round and the scheduled “Tower-Thon” is even more special due to the fact the stairs are not usually open to the public and are generally reserved for maintenance and emergency use.
Climbing the steps certainly poses a challenge – one that has been attempted by a number of people before. The tower was even the subject of a challenge on ITV’s “The Biggest Loser” where contestants who were attempting to lose weight, climbed to the very top in order to avoid elimination from the show. But organisers are hoping for unprecedented numbers taking on the climb in October and it also presents a great opportunity for people to raise money for charity by being sponsored to take part.
The Spinnaker Tower-Thon takes place on Sunday October 12th, with the fastest man and woman earning the opportunity for a trip to New York for the Empire State Building race next year.