Racing Eureka Tower
International Stair Racing Journeyman Martin Pederson travelled to Melbourne to compete in the 2017 Eureka Tower Climb. Martin posts great stories from all his races. This is his story of his climb.
The second climb in two Sundays was yesterday in Melbourne. I wasn't too jetlagged since I've been in the timezone area for over a week, so I tried to go to sleep early. Unfortunately the place I'd rented was in the club district, and it was Saturday night. I slept on and off, but not more than two hours at a time.
Decided to get up at 05:15. Packet pickup opened at 06:00, and I wanted to get there in time to do some warming up and eat my breakfast there. It was a 15-20 min walk, and I was there just after 06:00. It was a beautiful morning, and so much nicer than the last time I did the climb.
Hardly had I entered the race area before I recognized Maria, then she recognized me and we said hello, and chatted for a short bit. I went to pick up my race bib, and met Jason who also was doing the elite wave at 06:45. Jason had mentioned that he had done a 9min40-ish in training, and since we were pretty evenly matched in Osaka, I was feeling confident about improving on my 10min38 PB from 2014.
Jason went to warm up, and I ate a banana for breakfast.
Oops, it was almost 06:45, so I quickly did some unstructured warming up, but I was glad that my legs felt pretty good. I got in line with the others who were already lined up. There was a short presentation of each climber in the elite wave, before we were lined up at the start line. Only by then did the pre-race jitters kick in. I was still in a kind of doubt as to where my fitness level was. Osaka went fine, but my stair training a few days before had not been very good.
Mark started us off, soon after it was Jason, and before I knew of it I was up.
10 m sprint, right turn, stairs. And then they begin. The long flights. The challenging turns. All combined with the odd flights in between with a short landing halfway up the flight.
I started off slow. Maybe even too slow, but I didn't want to risk blowing up halfway. I had plans. The good thing about the 1-floor/1-flight configuration is that the floor number goes up at each turn. If you can't help but look up at the turns it gives you a slight boost, instead of having to wait 2, 3, even (gasp) 4 flights for a new floor.
10th floor, feeling good. 15th floor, starting to feel I was in a stair climb. But also starting to find a way to make the turns the most efficient way I could.
I started to hear someone getting closer, but I couldn't determine if it was someone above me or below me. I heard cheers from up above, and sure enough, I was catching up to someone in front of me. I think somewhere in the mid 30s I overtook him, and not too long after he was out of sight, and I was climbing alone only accompanied by my own breathing, and the occasional volunteer. Not unusual, but very different from my last climb in Osaka.
It can be good or bad, depending on what you are able to focus on. I was able to keep focusing on the turns, which were my biggest concern, and even seeing the constant flow of floor numbers didn't bother me. 40. 44. Halfway. Only.
Late 40s and into the 50s I was starting to feel worse, and by the 60s my turns were getting progressively and noticeably worse. I was wasting steps left and right. Annoyed as that made me, I tried to change my focus back to the turns, in a hope that I would ignore the overheating and pains.
It only worked briefly.
70. My pre-race determined Go-point was not far away. I had seen one video of Mark doing the climb a few years ago, and it showed him still running up the stairs at floor 77. I know what you're thinking, but yes, my reasoning was that if he could do it, I could do it! During the last few floors leading up to 77, I gathered all my leftover strength and prepared for ultimate hurt. Crap, was that 76 already!? OK, 77. Time to go!
I was actually able to pick up the pace a little bit, but alas I'm not Mark, and by 84 I was teleported back to reality and returned to a walk. Working as hard as I could, I reached floor 87, and the final carpeted flight. Gave it my last push, and ran through the exit door and the last flat section.
I had pushed pretty hard, and immediately hit the floor after the finish line. Looked at my watch just as I hit the floor. 10min02. Just as elated I was with a substantial PB, just as disappointed I was if I had missed sub-10 due to not being able to run from 77 to the finish.
I saw Jason, who wasn't happy with his time, and we discussed our races. Saw Mark being interviewed, and figured that he had won again. He had, in 8min10 (that's slow for him…). Alice was also being interviewed, and she had won with a 10min15 (that's slow for her too...), barely beating another climber by less than a second. That makes it seven years in a row for both Mark and Alice. Impressive!
We chatted among ourselves, and I also chatted a while with Jason's friend Ruth who had secured a media pass and met us at the top.
Somehow word got around that I had come from Denmark to do the climb, and before I knew what happened I was interviewed by a local radio station. I hope they didn't use it after all, since I wasn't quite able to construct intelligible sentences just yet.
After a few more minutes of hanging around and enjoying the views across sunlit Melbourne we went down to check our official time. Jason's wife was operating one of the computers, and I was happy as could be when she started writing my time with a 9! 9min50 was my official time, and a 48 second PB. Granted, in 2014 I wasn't at my best, but I'll take a PB any day.
Jason did 9min46, and would even go on to beat me once more, when he did a second climb. Thanks, Jason. Jason's second climb wasn't until much later, so he took off, and I waited for Maria to finish her second climb. I didn't mind just walking around the starting area for a while. The weather was fantastic.
After a while where I think I missed Maria exiting the building I saw her and we went to a nearby pub where I met some of her friends and family. A lot of fun, and we spent the rest of the early afternoon there, until it was time to part ways.
It was an absolutely awesome day, and I can only recommend coming to Melbourne and do the Eureka Climb