More than 4,000 people from dozens of countries raced up Taipei 101’s stairs yesterday, among them a 96-year-old who is a regular participant in the annual event.
Those who run in the race, now in its ninth year, challenge themselves to climb up 2,046 steps, or 390m, to the building’s 91st floor.
Peng Hung-nien (彭宏年), 96, has participated in the race every yearand won a round of applause when he reached the finish line for the ninth time.
Peng said that although he exercises regularly, it is “of course, exhausting” to compete in the race.
Lai Chi-ho (賴啟河), 88, was also among the senior runners. Lai, who has been a doctor for more than 60 years, said his main reason for signing up for the race was “curiosity,” to see if he could do it.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” he said.
At the end of the race, Lai said he was “a bit out of breath,” but did not feel too tired.
He said he jogs and cycles for at least five hours a day, adding that the key to staying healthy is having an active lifestyle.
Defending champion Australian Mark Bourne led the elite runners in the men’s group with a time of 10 minutes and 52 seconds, while Italian Valentina Belotti won the women’s group for the third straight year, clocking 12 minutes and 54 seconds.
Olympic taekwondo athlete Su Li-wen (蘇麗文) also took part in the run-up.
The event’s contestants are divided into four categories: elite runners, charity relay groups, corporate groups and individual runners.
Tapei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) led Taipei City Government officials in a friendly relay race against Taipei 101 executives, which his team won with a time of 10 minutes and 22 seconds.
The lineup of Hau’s team prompted media speculation because the second-to-last runner, who passed the baton to Hauwas Sean Lien (連勝文), one of former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) sons.
This led some to say that there was a political implication behind the lineup because Sean Lien is considered to be one of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidates to succeeed Hau as mayor next year.
However, Sean Lien dismissed the speculation by saying that the most fascinating thing about such athletic events is that the have nothing to do with politics.