Saturday April 21 marks the date of the 22nd Annual CN Tower Climb for the World Wildlife Fund of Canada.
In 2008 I was unwed and was working and living in Toronto. Coming from a very small city myself, here were a lot of things that I disliked about living in the big city. But I did appreciate a lot of things about it too—the holiday window display at Holt Renfrew, the eggplant sandwiches at the St. Lawrence market, Hallowe’en in the gay village (and the neighbourhood in general, for that matter), getting free swag daily at the corner of Yonge & Dundas Square, and seeing Dallas Green on my walk home from work to name a few.
One thing I especially loved about living in Toronto was having access to so many different events all year round. There was always something going on. Things that I wouldn’t necessarily travel all the way to Toronto to do, but that I took full advantage of while I lived there.
The CN Tower Climb was one of them.
1,776 steps (144 flights of stairs) to the observation deck of a Canadian landmark and the world’s second tallest building.
I took part in the challenge in 2008 after about 30 minutes of undemanding and lax training on the gym’s stairclimber. So with my only experience based on a set of stairs that rotated on a belt under my feet and daily practice in my fourth floor walk-up apartment, I hadn’t the slightest idea of how long it would take for me to climb 144 flights of stairs.
I gave myself a general goal of 30 minutes and hoped for the best.
When I got to the event I learned that you’re not allowed to carry anything while you climb. Nothing. At all. No cell phone, cameras, iPods. Not even water!
I was determined to bring my camera up with me though because I did the climb by myself and I wanted a picture at the top to prove I did so I hid it in one of the millions of pockets in my cargo pants and figured I’d be okay if it were hidden.
Once I finally finished the trek from the event check-in to the start of the climb I discovered that we had to go through a security checkpoint and guards with metal detector wands. This was not going to bode well for me. I contemplated turning around and heading all the way back to check my camera, but I decided I would take the risk.
When it was my turn to be wanded, a combination of sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and my irresistible charm miraculously keep the guard from noticing the camera in my pocket. Phew! I was in the clear.
I made it to the stairwell and got started.
The stairwell leading to the observation deck was dark, narrow, and windowless with a dampness from the sweat of the climbers that made me feel like I was climbing the General Brock Monument, except this stairwell never seemed to end.
The number on each flight of stairs was stencilled on the wall so you could keep track as you went up. For the life of me I couldn’t remember how many flights there were, so I tried not to pay too much attention to how many I completed because I had no idea how many were left to go.
I had a solid pace going. One step behind me the entire way was a very fit woman whose own pace was the keeping me motoring. I wanted to be fast enough so she wouldn’t have to bother going around me and that she wouldn’t step on my heels. And I didn’t want to let her down since she spent much of the climb cheering on the people that we passed on the way up (and frankly we passed a lot of people).
When it got to flight 135 I was starting to tire. I called out to everyone around and no one in particular
“135! How many more flights?!”
“30!” Some woman responded.
30?!? I couldn’t keep this pace for 30 more flights, I knew that much so I let my partner pass even though she encouraged me to “keep my pace, almost there!”
In 9 more flights I was at the top. Only 9. Bitch! I cursed the girl that told me I had 30 to go. I could have kept my pace for 9 flights of stairs.
But I made it in 18:32. Not too shabby I daresay and well under my ambiguous 30 minute goal.
And I got a picture of myself at the top of the tower in all my sweaty glory!
Would I do it again?
I can’t decide.
I found the stairwell itself to be uncomfortably hot and dark, and very confined.
When finally you get to the observation deck there are a million people there which makes it tough to appreciate.
It was nice to do once, but I don’t know that I would care to take part in the event again. Maybe for the sole purpose of improving my finishing time.
1) I apologize if it is arrogant of me to post an event recap 4 years after the fact. I guess I should take it as a cue to do something fun and exciting now in 2012.
2) I cannot believe how small my arms were in 2008. I still have that climb t-shirt and it is much tighter on the biceps these days. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
3) The fact that my ass is also bigger than version2008 is definitely a good thing.