Loros Tower Run

Review by first time tower runner Shell DillonRedmile

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After a whole year of back to back standard running events the Loros Tower Run appealed to me for something different. At £17 it was really good value so I signed up thinking ‘how hard can it be?’ On arrive, at first glance of St George’s tower in central Leicester my thoughts immediately changed to ‘Eeekkkk what have I done?”

The concept was simple. Run up the 351 steps from the ground floor to the top of one of the city’s most iconic and tallest occupied buildings.

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The race pack that was sent out several weeks prior to the event was informative and also gave training advice. The advice being to attempt to climb the stairs two at a time. With this in mind I planned my training for the event around this tip. I only managed to practiced to a maximum of 50 stairs but I also continued my running mileage and cross trained.

On arrival at the venue I booked in with ease and was made to feel really welcomed. They asked if I had done the tower run before and I replied I hadn’t but I was looking forward to attempting the challenge.

Lots of fellow participants joined me in waiting in the confines of the Premier inn away from the harsh wind and cold weather. I was glad this was an indoor run! As I stood waiting I could hear everyone around going over their plan of action and the do’s and don’ts from those who had run before.

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I got called to go outside and wait for my turn. It was very cold but the conversation from other participants passed the time quickly. I have to say the tower looked huge! I got to the front for my turn but then a competitor arrived late so I was asked to wait. This was fine with me as it gave me time to settle myself nerves.

As I waited the lady behind me said she would be coming for me in 20 seconds. This spurred me into action.
I was counted in (at my scheduled time) ‘3,2,1, go…..

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I set off using my planned two at a time approach. Each floor was 2 sets of roughly 10 steps and had a marshal at every one. At floor 2 the marshal happily advised me I only had 18 flights to go!

My plan was working really well and I felt I was doing okay. By floor 8 my lungs were burning but I overtook two people, one of which had stopped with a marshal to catch her breath.

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By the time I got to 13th floor I was really struggling and felt slightly dizzy. At floor 15 I remember thinking ‘oh my, what am I doing?’, I slowed to a fast walk up to floor 16 and then realised I only had 4 more floors to go. All of a sudden I could hear the lady who said she was going to catch me so I found some extra energy and sprinted to the top.

At the summit I recall a marshal shouting ‘push the buzzer’ which I did with great joy. I had finished! I felt a sense of exhilaration but I was really out of breath, my lungs burnt and I could not stop coughing.

I walked along the corridor to collect my medal and a well earned glass of fizz to find lots of other competitors coughing too. There were tables with snack bars and bottles of water. I took some pictures of the beautiful views across the city.

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Everyone was very bubbly and congratulating one another. As we made our way down in the lift we were all intrigued to find out how we had done. I made my way out and was guided to a van where I could immediately get a print out of my time which was a very pleasing 3 minutes 23 seconds.

I was congratulated on the loud speaker by the announcer as I made my way past which was a nice touch. I was amazed that my legs felt good but my lungs still hurt!

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Overall I would highly recommend this event. It was over quickly but the sense of achievement was high, the atmosphere was really good and everyone was friendly and welcoming. The volunteers were great and the event ran smoothly. I was even told I could run up again at the end if I fancied it. I politely declined decided but hope to give it another go next year.

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UK Wife Carrying Race 2019

It was that time of year again. Our fourth consecutive trip to Dorking, Surrey for what was to be the twelfth annual UK Wife Carrying Race.

Generally this is an event we look forwards to. It’s fun, it’s about as quirky a race concept as there is and it offers me a welcome break from the monotony of marathon training. This time however things were a little different.

There was no denying that it was still going to be a great laugh. You’re jumping over hay bales and running up and down a big hill while carrying your wife on your back. How can you possibly not rise a smile to that in a world where adults have to be so serious the majority of the time? Saying that there was no getting away from the fact that this year the demand for us to get the victory was high.

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Firstly, we’ve finished in 2nd place in all of the previous three year’s races. When you’re as competitive as I am and you get that close so many times it really ramps up the desire to win. Secondly, Our local BBC radio station have been documenting our journey to the race and we’d been selected to take part in a TV show on Sky One that gave various celebrities the opportunity to back us to come first and their cameras were there to record us. The world’s media is always at this event but this time some of them were there specifically for us. Pressure on!

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In some ways it’s surprising that such an obscure race attracts such high standard of competitors but maybe not so much when you consider that there’s a national title at stake, a world championship to qualify for, a chance to represent your country, a cash prize to go towards your flights to Finland for those championships and to get your moment in the media spotlight.

Registration, wives weigh in (they have to be at least 50KG’s), pre race interview, some promo shots and a good warm up all done and we were on the start line with 40 other couples ready to go.

The wind was swirling and the rain was lashing down. This was going to make the all grass 380 meter course treacherous in an event in which the headlines were dominated last year by a couple who slipped and fell resulting in hospitalisation on what was a dry day. This made my wife a little more nervous but I was confident.

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It’s important to get a good start as the hay bales are placed within the first 30 meters on this out and back route. I’ve been held up here before but got us there in a good position this time. After negotiating the four hurdles safely there was just one couple ahead of us as we began to climb the steepening hill. I’ve felt the strain on this significant incline over the past couple of year but this time I was feeling strong and fresh. I soon caught the early leaders and it was now our race to lose.

I reached the turnaround point at the summit with a slender lead which I then increased as the downhill started. I pushed on and felt comfortable. As I approached the crowds I didn’t feel any pressure from behind. Then came the water zone.

This isn’t your regular race’s water zone where you’re offered a nice cup of refreshing water to quench your first. Here they hurl buckets of freezing cold water at point plank range straight into your face. Being in the front I got the brunt of this. This sent me into a bit of a daze and before I knew it, from nowhere I felt a knock to my arm. I’d momentarily shut my eyes as the water was thrown, I opened them and like awakening from a bad dream, we’d been overtaken.

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By this point we were already back at the hay bales so a had very little time to react. I went over them as fast as I could then made the final burst to the tape. The momentum had swung their way and there was no getting it back. We crossed the line just inches from victory once again. Unlike last year thought, where we’d been battling all the way with several others, including the couple from Lithuania who finished third but went on to win the world champs, we were well clear of anyone else.

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I gave this race my all, I felt really strong throughout, especially on the up hill and this was by far my best performance to date but still just not quite good enough. Full praise to my wife Becky who not only goes through this race with me year in, year out but who also went the extra mile this time by going on a big diet and losing almost a stone since the turn of the year to get down to 58KG’s which is incredible as she’s 5ft 10”.

Congratulations to Chris and Tanisha who beat us and took the title for the second successive year, that was one hell of a finish to close that gap.

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I also want to give credit to event organiser Rob McCaffrey from Trionium who, in a time where health and safety and political correctness have gone mad, continues to ensure the maddest thing of all is that this race still goes on. Not only that, but it’s getting stronger and more popular every year. It’s the epitome of a quirky race and long may it remain a part of our racing calendar. Fifth time lucky?


The Sky One show featuring Chris and Becky is called Romesh’s look back to the future and will air in December.