‘Do not give up’: spinocerebellar atrophy sufferer will race up ICC tower hoping to inspire others

Runner afflicted with a degenerative disease will scale 21 floors of the ICC as part of the SHKP Vertical Run for Charity in a bid to set an example of determination

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 8:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 9:32am

Racing up Hong Kong’s tallest tower is a challenge most of us would not consider, but spinocerebellar atrophy sufferer Kelvin Kwong hopes to inspire others by taking part in the Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) Vertical Run for Charity.

Kwong will compete in the Fun Climb 21 for the second time in December, a race to the 21st storey of the International Commerce Centre (ICC), despite being afflicted with a degenerative disease.

Spinocerebellar atrophy slowly robs people of their coordination, making it hard for them to control their muscles and is characterised by difficulty walking and speaking.

Kwong walks with the support of two walking sticks, but this has not deterred him from taking on the ICC challenge.

“I want to inspire people not to give up,” he said. “Despite my health issues, I’m still determined to walk up to the 21st floor.

“Many people have said to me that seeing me finish last year was touching and they were proud.”

The SHKP Vertical Run for Charity consists of two heights, the Fun Climb 21 and the full race up 82 floors, amounting to 2,120 steps. They are divided into four categories: Elite, individual, team relay and Fun Climb 21.

Eric Yeung, only 19 years old, will be taking part for the fourth year in a row up all 82 floors in the elite category. Last year he finished fifth and has a personal best of just over 14 minutes, but this year he is aiming for sub-14 minutes.

“I train in my building,” Yeung said. “I run up 30 floors then go down by elevator, and then go again and again.

“I’ve intensified training on my lower body to make it stronger. It is exhausting training, it’s very hard every year.

“Now I am at university, I have fewer classes, not like secondary school,” he said. “I now train six days a week – at school I only trained five days.”

Australian runner Mark Bourne won last year in 12 minutes, 12 seconds. Fellow Australian Suzy Walsham won the women’s race in 14 minutes, 25 seconds.

The race is the last and toughest in a series called the Vertical World Circuit that sees runners scale some of the world’s largest buildings, including the Shanghai IFC (54 floors and 1,460 steps) and Dubai’s Jumeirah Emirates Towers (52 floors and 1,334 steps).