Danny Lopez

Danny Lopez

British Consul-General, New York

Part of Digital Diplomacy

10th February 2012 New York, USA

Empire State of Mind

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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About Danny Lopez

Danny was appointed British Consul-General, New York in July 2011 and has responsibility for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut’s Fairfield County. He is on the Board of UK Trade & Investment, the foreign commercial arm of the UK Government, and leads its operations across the USA. Prior to joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Consul-General Lopez enjoyed a varied career in the UK’s public and private sectors. From 2009 to 2011, he worked for the London Development Agency, the Mayor of London’s economic development arm, as Group Director for Business Support and Promotion. During this time, he was responsible for creating London & Partners, the UK capital’s promotional agency for business, visitors and students and was its inaugural CEO. From 2006 to 2009, he was Managing Director, Marketing & Communications at UK Trade & Investment, where he was responsible for delivering a new marketing strategy to promote and showcase the UK economy internationally. Previously, he worked at Barclays Bank for ten years, where he held a number of senior international positions, including Director of Business Banking USA in New York, Head of Inward Investment in London and Business Development Director in India. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics and a Masters in International Economics and Finance from the University of Essex. He is recently engaged to his Australian fiancee Susan and is a big fan of running, tennis, football (soccer) and Formula 1.

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