Posts Tagged ‘NSPCC Gherkin Challenge’

Heading into the latter part of 2019 the UK stair racing season is winding down, but there’s still one big event left to sign up to.

The NSPCC Gherkin Challenge has been running for over a decade and remains one of the biggest and best stair climb events in the UK.

Read on to find out all the key info on the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge 2019, including who might be in contention to set a new course record.

The NSPCC Gherkin Challenge

The Gherkin

What is it?

This challenging, charity stair climb event from the NSPCC returns for it’s 11th edition this year, giving runners the chance to climb 1,037 steps to the top of The Gherkin (aka 30 St Mary Axe). Entry is £20, with participants asked to commit to raise £250 sponsorship. Or, you can pay £149 upfront and forget about the fundraising.

Why should I do it?

Firstly, it’s an excellent cause and charity that deserves support. The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity and runs numerous projects to help safeguard youngsters and prevent abuse.

Secondly, the Gherkin Challenge is the second-biggest stair running event in the UK – after Vertical Rush – which makes for a great atmosphere on the day. The NSPCC have been running this successful event for over a decade now meaning they have a lot of experience about what works and how to put on a fun and exciting event.

Finally, this promises to be a competitive event where some of the best UK tower runners will be looking to break records. If you’re keen to test yourself against some of the top men and women in the country, this is one of the last chances you’ll get to do it in 2019.

Italy’s Fabio Ruga set the men’s course record of 4:07 back in 2009. Could Ruga’s time, or Rich Sirrs’ UK record of 4:23 set in 2015, be under threat?

Competition in the men’s stair races in the UK has really stepped up a level this year, with Mark Howard and Laurence Ball pushing the limits. Either man could well be capable of challenging those times.

The current women’s record of 5:33 is held by British stair running sensation, Sarah Frost. She is anticipated to demolish that time in October, so you could be there to witness history!

It’s definitely not one to be missed.

When is it?

Sunday 27th October 2019 at The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

How do I sign up?

Gherkin Challenge 2019 registration

Check out our 2019 race calendar for a full list of the remaining stair climbing events in the UK.

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Sonja Shakespeare set a new women’s course record at the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge event in London last Sunday (22 Oct).

One of the rising stars of UK stair climbing, Shakespeare shattered the existing record by over 30 seconds to set a new time of 6.03 and continue her success in 2017.

She was challenged strongly by the in-form Sarah Frost who set off 45 minutes after in a later wave of runners. Frost was coming in to the race off the back of two strong wins at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in September and Spinnaker Tower earlier this month. She also managed to blow past the previous course record, finishing a mere second behind Shakespeare in 6.04.

Sonia Shakespeare towerrunner

Sonja Shakespeare celebrates with Sarah Frost (l) and fellow Total Motion Towerrunners teammate Chiara Cristoni (r)

‘I actually enjoyed the race’ said Shakespeare. ‘I was really quite nervous before, which is normal for me, although I was confident in what I needed to do and stayed completely in control during the climb.’

A relative newcomer to the sport, she has been chopping away at her PBs constantly in 2017, improving from event to event.

‘I’ve been improving, but I’ve also had some really bad races where I completely blew up on the stairs. It’s the most painful thing ever and I’ve learnt from that. I’m learning with each race.’

With the experience of a number of international races already in the bag, Shakespeare is keen to explore her limits and see exactly what she is capable of in the coming months.

Her next event will be the Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon on 26th November, where she will compete against a lineup of some of the biggest names in the sport.
Mark Sims wins NSPCC Gherkin Challenge 2017

The Gherkin Challenge was the fourth race in the ongoing UK Championship series. Organised by the charity NSPCC, it attracted over 400 competitors, but the battle for overall winner was really a two-man race as reigning UK champion Mark Sims went head-to-head with David Harris. Sims is one of only a handful of people to have completed The Gherkin in under five minutes and was determined to secure another victory following his win at Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on 8th October.

Two-time UK champion Sims won in a time of 4.43, taking four seconds off the second-place time he set in 2015. A fast improving Harris, who has set a number of impressive PBs in 2017, took second place in 5.15.

Mark Sims Gherkin Challenge

David Harris and Mark Sims on the podium at the Gherkin Challenge 2017

Focus in the UK now turns to the final race of the 2017 UK Championship next month. The Broadgate Tower Run Up takes place on Saturday 25th November at London’s Broadgate Tower. Not only will it feature a double-climb main event, but it also boasts the first ever vertical mile event in the UK – 12 climbs of the 877-step tower! There’s still plenty of time to sign up to the Broadgate Tower Run Up.

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