Chris King is planning to bolt up the stairs of his 92-storey building in Abu Dhabi on Friday. The aim is to attempt to do this 27 times over the course of the day and, if successful, it will be the equivalent of having summitted Mount Everest.
King has signed up for the Everesting Challenge, an event described as “fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard”, in which participants attempt to complete a looped ascent of 8,848 metres on bike or foot. The rules are simple: keep climbing up (it does not matter how you go down) and don’t sleep.
To date, 427 runners around the world have completed the challenge and this year, King, 37, is the only one attempting it from the UAE. He hopes to finish in 20 hours by walking or running up the stairs (and taking the lift down) while wearing a smart device to track his progress.
“I was looking for the next thing. I love my fitness, [but] gyms were closed and we couldn’t go outdoors,” he says. “I just started walking from the car to our apartment, which is 21 floors up. When I heard about the Everesting Challenge, I thought : ‘Well, it’s only a few more floors.’”
King admits that while he enjoys being physically active, he does not consider himself a top-notch athlete, despite having 12 years of experience in the Australian army. He also used to run a fitness company in London.“I have a relatively good base of fitness, but nothing special, and certainly not elite by any stretch of the imagination,” he says.
Originally, King thought he might have a problem doing the task as there aren’t many hills in Abu Dhabi. When he realised stair-climbing was acceptable, he figured he’d make good use of his living in World Trade Centre Residences. He began training three months ago, by ascending 10 loops up the tower’s 92 floors, which took him about six hours. He also runs, rides and does strength workouts on a regular basis.
While the physical aspect of the challenge is daunting, he says the mental side of it might be even more difficult “because I’m staring at white walls for the better part of 16 to 20 hours. You’ve got to find a way of motivating yourself, and thinking of other things, and entertaining yourself by listening to music and podcasts.”
If King is able to finish, he’ll get his name in the Everesting Hall of Fame. However, even if he does not, he says he’ll look at this as a pick-me-up. “It’s hard to find motivation to do anything when your regular day-to-day lives are so upended because of Covid. Pick anything that gives you a little bit of joy and just go for it. Hopefully, I’ll reach my goal but if I don’t, it’s been a great journey getting here.”