2012 is a special year for the UK, and we have much to look forward to in the months ahead with the London 2012 Games and the Diamond Jubilee. On a cold January day in New York, while talking to some colleagues about celebrating the countdown to the Olympics, somebody mentioned the “Empire State Building Run Up,” and I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it. The race was set for February 8th – incidentally, marking 170 days to go until the London 2012 Games. I couldn’t think of a better way to mark that milestone in New York: climbing up the city’s most iconic building, and for a wonderful cause.

I had the privilege of running for Team for Kids, a charity that funds programs that combat childhood obesity and empower youth development in low-income schools and community centers in New York City. I was aiming to raise $2,012 but thanks to the generosity of so many friends and colleagues, I was able to raise a whopping $5,032. A huge thanks to all of you.

Now that the race is over, I can confirm the run up was as tough and tiring as it sounds! In the three weeks I had to train, I went up the stairs of my apartment building quite a few times, but when I got to the Empire State Building, I felt quite unsure as to what was in store, despite knowing I had 86 floors and 1,576 steps ahead. 

I couldn’t quite decide what music to listen to during the run up, so I let my iPod do the choosing; for some reason, it selected two songs in a row by my pseudo-namesake, J.Lo, which I took as a good omen! I soon got into a rhythm and encountered far less traffic along the way than I expected. There was a change of staircase on floors 20 and 64, and I have to admit the whole experience is now a bit of a blur. Your lungs go into overdrive after the first 20 floors or so because there is less oxygen available than what your body actually demands! The organisation was superb throughout and once the race started, runners were released every five seconds, which helped things progress smoothly.

A couple of floors before reaching the final 86th floor, I could already feel the cold air of the observation deck, which was very welcome. On arrival, there was a lap around the deck to complete, and it was snowing at the time, which made the whole experience all the more remarkable. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to finish (as well as how out of breath I was). I won’t pretend it wasn’t hard work, and I felt absolutely shattered at the end of it, but the support I have received over the last few days made all the difference along the way.

The Empire State Building Run Up really was a GREAT—and fitting—way to celebrate 170 days to go until the London 2012 Games, and my thanks once more for everybody’s support!

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