Nearly 600 people, including four Hongkongers, joined a race to the top of the tallest building in Beijing yesterday as part of a competition featuring some of the world's best-known skyscrapers.
Germany's Thomas Dold came first, sprinting up the 82 flights - and 2,041 steps - to the observation deck of the China World Summit Wing hotel in nine minutes 55 seconds.
"Fortunately the weather was very nice," said 28-year old Dold. "The highlight is the fantastic view over Beijing when reaching the finish line. It makes the whole effort worthwhile."
Athletes from 22 countries and regions took part in the event, which was co-hosted by the Shangri-La hotels group and the International Skyrunning Federation. It was the fourth stop in the federation's "Vertical World Circuit" - races up buildings that define eight cities in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. The competition moves to Vietnam next and later to Singapore.
The Shangri-La Group's biggest shareholder is the Kerry Group, the controlling shareholder in SCMP Group, publisher of the South China Morning Post and Sunday Morning Post.
Gao Xiqing , vice-chairman of the China Investment Corporation, took part in the Beijing race, which he hoped would send a message.
"I hope the event can raise public awareness about the poor environmental condition in Beijing," he said. "I love to do outdoor sports but had to move to exercising inside because of the pollution."
Runners were flagged off in groups of 10 to 15 for the race to top of the 330-metre building.
Beijing native Xing Ruling came first in the category for women over 40, with a time of 14:22. She said it was the most difficult race of its kind that she had participated in.
"The Summit is taller than any other of the buildings I have conquered," said the 50-year-old nurse. Her victory won her a round trip to London with a three-night stay at the city's soon-to-open Shangri-La hotel. But Xing said she joined the race for the sake of charity.
In the women's elite division, Australia's Suzy Walsham won her third race this year in a time of 11:47. As well as adding 100 points to their rankings in the Vertical World Circuit, elite category winners received US$1,000.
The event raised about 30,000 yuan (HK$38,000) for Chinese Rural Kids Care, which provides health care for children from poor families in rural China.
Hotel general manager Thomas Schmitt-Glaeser said the event not only promoted a healthy lifestyle but encouraged runners to take part in a good cause.