Marathoning Life

CN Tower, Toronto Canada
Would you run up the stairs of the CN Tower? Photo: Frank Parhizgar, WWF-Canada

I’ve never been a very athletic person. I enjoy walks, hikes, skating, and other forms of exercise that “get me places”, but I’ve never been one to train for a competition or develop a physical skill. I decided to change that last year. I thought to myself, “I’m going to run a marathon!”

A friend of mine participated in the Mississauga Marathon a few years ago, so I contacted her and asked her if I could tag along. While discussing event options for our run, we came across the World Wildlife Foundation’s CN Tower Climb. It seemed like a great challenge for a wonderful cause, so we decided to try it.

Shortly after I started my training, I realized it was a terrible, terrible idea. I was in way over my head.

The CN Tower Climb involves running up the emergency staircase of The Canadian National (CN) Tower. This structure is 553.3 m-high, the highest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere.

In 1995, the CN Tower was classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The CN Tower shares this designation with the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil/Paraguay border, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Panama Canal, the Chunnel under the English Channel, the North Sea Protection Works off the European coast, and the Empire State Building.

Since the Tower opened, Canadians and tourists from around the world have made the trip to Toronto to celebrate this marvel of civil engineering. Besides serving as a telecommunications hub, the Tower provides world-class entertainment and a wide range of unique attractions, exhibits and food and beverage venues.

— Excerpt from

CN Tower Climb participants climb 1,776 steps up a staircase made of metal lattice. There aren’t any formal pitstops along the way, just staircase landings for individuals to pause momentarily. Once you start the climb, you can’t give up and take an elevator. The only access to elevators are on the ground level, where participants start the climb, and on the observation deck at the end of the climb. My initial enthusiasm for completing the climb ended shortly after doing some thorough research into the CN Tower Climb and suggested training regimes which were very vigorous, to say the least. I had come to my senses regarding the challenge at hand and my premature enthusiasm for the climb.

A year and a half later I’m still not ready to complete the CN Tower Climb, but I’ve settled for more reasonable milestones. I completed my first 5km run in June 2017 with the simple goal of not finishing in last place. In September 2017 I committed to hiking to Machu Picchu during my trip to Peru and subsequently spent a lot of time hiking, walking, and climbing up the stairs of various Incan ruins.

Going forward from here, I’ve signed up for the Mississauga Marathon in May to complete a 10km run, this time with a goal to finish in the top 50%. If I had been more committed, I know that I could’ve aimed for a more challenging goal, but I can’t overestimate my physical capabilities.

Instead, I’ve decided to channel my enthusiasm towards a different kind of goal. As part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge with the Mississauga Marathon, I aim to raise $100 for The Riverwood Conservancy, a nature conservancy in Mississauga where I spent a few summers learning about conservation, local flora, and invasive plants. You can support me by donating here:

I think the moral of this story is that it’s fine to chase your goals but be sure to build a bridge along the way. Thanks for reading!


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