Race to the Top!
April 4, 2012 by Woody Noland
Two weekends ago, I found myself in Charlotte in support of our county’s travelling volleyball club as they battled it out in the Regional Tournament. Whilst in town, I caught up with old High Rockers Strickland Parks, Ben Little, and Crystal Clusiau. In a weekend built around watching sporting events be it volleyball or March Madness, Ben had the brainwave to participate in something more active. He, his father Gray (another old High Rocks camper) and I all signed up for Duke Energy’s Race to the Top held at the Duke Energy Center building downtown that Saturday morning. The basic premise is that racers are released one at a time, every 15 seconds, and proceed to run to the top as fast as possible. Mind you, the “top” is the 50th story. 1, 194 steps stood in between the start and finish! Funnily enough, the first 10 stories or so were actually the hardest as you tried to find a rhythm to carry you through the ordeal. We all began with perhaps too much gusto as we took the stairs two at a time in our excitement to get going. While Ben was able to mix that strategy with some single-step stories, I quickly downshifted to a one step at a time jog which I was able to continue to the top, much to my surprise. By the top half, your mind began to play tricks with you and stairs, or whole stories, would go by in a blur. Upon completion though, the sense of satisfaction (and relief!) was huge as was being in the nearly unfinished peak of such a massive building. Luckily, they had arranged for elevators to take participants back down, otherwise I might still be up there.
The event was put on to raise money for the Levine Children’s Hospital. Local businesses had pitched in to supply all kinds of race refreshments, full Italian meals, fresh fruit, and some sweet quick dry shirts. One street had been blocked off for the contestants and spectators to enjoy music and watch the huge TV screen put up on the opposing building. They had not told us (or I had not realized) that TV cameras would be at the start, the 10th, 26th, and 50th stories so everyone outside could watch you struggle up the stairs in real time. It made for hilarious footage but I am glad I didn’t have to watch myself go up. This was our first ever tower run and I think we all enjoyed it enough to do it again in the future. There is a host of tower runs around the US and the world. Here is a link if you are interested in learning more about races near you: www.towerrunning.com