The sixth edition of the Aspire Torch Staircase Run 2017 – organised by Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) – concluded on Saturday with around 300 community members taking part.
The challenge, which was held in partnership with the iconic Torch Doha Hotel at Aspire Zone, saw large numbers of expats and locals of all ages enjoy friendly competition during the run up to the top of the Torch Doha Hotel. The runners were divided into four categories: Juniors (16-17 years old), Open category (18-39 years old) and Veterans (40 and older), along with a category dedicated to hotel waiters and waitresses who wished to take part.
This year’s competition was the ultimate challenge of endurance, as runners climbed more than 1300 steps to the 51st floor of the 300m tower, racing to be named Qatar’s fastest stair climbers and win cash prizes. At the finish line, Andi Jones won first place in the open male category (18-39) for the second consecutive year with a time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds. Katerina Matousova was awarded first place in the open female category (18-39) with a time of 10 minutes 42 seconds. Andrew Buckley earned first place in the male veteran category with a time of 9 minutes 31 seconds, while Carmel Lord earned first place in the female category with a time of 12 minutes 59 seconds.
In the male junior category, Oliver Guest earned first place with an impressive time of 9 minutes 31 seconds. Hallie Harris earned first place in the female junior category with a time of 11 mins 46 seconds. In the Waiter/Waitress Challenge, Khagendra Bharati came in first place with 11 minutes 9 seconds. Several officials from Aspire Zone Foundation and the Torch Doha Hotel were present to witness the closing ceremony and present prizes to the winners: Mr. Nasser Abdullah Al Hajri, Director of PR and Communications at AZF, Mr. Abdullah Al Khater, Events Manager at AZF, Mr. Sherif Sabry, General Manager of the Torch Doha Hotel, and Mr. Foltin Gerhard, Consultant for the Torch Doha Hotel.
Commenting on the successful conclusion of the race, Abdullah Al Khater said: “This competition required high levels of endurance and we’re very proud of the contestants. I’m delighted to see so many community members, locals and expats, participate in an event that so effectively reflects our mission to promote active and healthy lifestyles in Qatar. Thanks to this popularity, the Torch Staircase Run has become an important part of the year-round schedule of events that Aspire Zone Foundation organises.” Winner in the male category for the second year in a row, Andi Jones praised the race and expressed his enthusiasm at being able to participate in such an innovative event, saying: “I’m very proud of my achievement and for earning first place once more. My participation in this competition stems from my constant need to challenge myself and surpass my previous results. I prepared really well for this and it paid off in the end. I’m really happy.”
This year’s competition also saw a big number of Qatari participants compared to previous years. One of the Qataris taking part, Thamer Al Kuwari, who is an active member in Aspire Zone’s year-round activities, commented on his participation, saying: “This is my fourth year in the Aspire Torch Staircase Run and each year I hope to break my previous record. Aspire Zone Foundation always tries to bring unique and exciting sporting events for community members in Qatar and I’m always interested in taking part in their various activities. Stair climbing is of course very challenging and very different from running, for example, because it requires the use of a different set of muscles. I’m glad I took part again this year.”
To guarantee safety and fairness, contestants are required to leave space for each other when competing and, to avoid clashes, are not allowed to run in groups. If any contestant requires medical assistance or wants to forfeit the race, they can approach the medical staff and counsellors located every five levels on the course. Aspire Zone Foundation also set up a fun zone for children, so the whole family could attend and support their champions. In 2015, the Run was awarded official Grand Prix status as one of the top international tower running competitions, on par with the Empire State Building Run-Up in New York, USA, and Berlin Sky Tower in Germany.
More information about Aspire Zone Foundation’s year-round list of activities can be found on www.lifeinaspire.qa and via the organisation’s official social media channels.