Mon, May 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taipei 101 climb nets NT$1.85m

CHARITY EVENT Expats scaled 84 floors of the world's highest building -- or 1,899 steps in all -- in a Canadian Society-sponsored event to raise funds for local causes

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of Taiwan's expat community yesterday took part in a charity climb up the world's tallest building, Taipei 101, to raise funds for local causes.

The organizer, the Canadian Society, set a target of NT$1 million (about US$31,250) but eventually raised over NT$1.85 million. Most of the proceeds will go to the Garden of Hope Foundation, while the remainder will be distributed to the Community Services Center and Taipei City Hospital.

President of the Canadian Society Jacques van Wersch said that the event was designed to let the expat community show their community spirit by climbing -- or "clambering or even crawling" if need be -- to the top of the building.

Climbers scaled 84 floors and 1,899 steps to reach the finish line at the observation deck. Climbers were able to stop at rest stations about every four floors, and at large rest areas where they could get out of the stairwell and see the view.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young was among those who completed the climb, and still had the energy to crack jokes.

"I feel very good about it, except that I think we [Young and his wife Barbara] have 17 more floors to go because we only went to 84," he said.

It took the fitness enthusiast only 20 minutes and 30 seconds to complete the climb.

Young used to run marathons and although he runs less frequently now, he said that he still walks and works out on an elliptical trainer.

He did not stop at water stations for long, he said, because he thought if he stopped, he would not be able to start again.

"Besides, I was trying to get ahead of the crowd," he said.

The first person to get to the top, Kelvin Marsh of the UK -- who is a trainer at a fitness center -- took 16 minutes to ascend the building.

Canadian musician Matthew Lien was one of the celebrity climbers at yesterday's event.

Lien was in the hospital with a chest cold on Saturday and was thinking of dropping out of the event yesterday morning.

"I called Jacques and told him that I couldn't do it. He promised me that there was an elevator at the 18th floor if I could get there," he said. "When I got to the 18th floor, the door was locked so I kept going."

Lien said that he felt that if he just took one step at a time, he could make it.

"I'm really glad that I came all the way with everybody else," he said.

Among the corporate teams, the Taipei Times team was chosen as the "most nerdy" and the Swami Salami School of Yoga team won the "greatest costume" award. Jim Lehman of the Salami was dressed as a nun and said that they just wanted to have fun, and not take themselves too seriously.

"It's for charity and I think people can get a little bit down about that sometimes," he said. "They feel like, oh, the world has so many problems, we all need to solve it. So we just want to make it fun."

One of his teammates was dressed as Elvis, with others as Batman, the Tooth Fairy, a Taekwondo practitioner and an Aborigine.

Martin Spurling's team from HSBC won the prize of the "most muscular" due to the T-shirt the male members wore. The tight skin-color top bearing the pattern of muscles made them look like bodybuilders -- from a distance.

Spurling said that the T-shirts made them look like they were fit even though they were not.

"We've decided it's not a race, so we're just going to help each other out, and as a team, we will make it to the top," he said when he was at the 35th floor. "I'm 40 and right now I'm feeling 50."

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