Runners race to top of 2,041-stair Beijing building

Henry Baker

What's one thing more challenging than a marathon? A vertical marathon.

A group of elite vertical marathoners ran up 82 floors, or nearly 1,100 feet, to the top of the China World Trade Center Tower 3, Beijing's tallest building on Sunday.

It took the winner less than 10 minutes to climb all 2,041 stairs. It takes me 10 minutes to run a mile. Thomas Dold of Germany took the gold in 9 minutes and 55 seconds, and Suzy Walsham of Australia led the women at a speedy 11 minutes and 47 seconds.

The participants came from 10 different countries and included professionals and amateurs. Runners competed for cash prizes and round-trip tickets from Beijing to London along with a three-night stay at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The 2013 Vertical World Circuit hosts eight races across the globe. It started in the U.S., went to Switzerland and Taiwan, and just completed China. Next, it heads to Vietnam, Spain, Singapore, and then Brazil. That is a lot of calories burned.

Apparently a huge draw for participants is the view at the top of the skyscraper, because what's better than a smoggy view of Beijing? Jokes aside, the air quality was a concern for race organizers who hired a local hospital to staff the event.

But something to really marvel at and appreciate: The oldest person to complete the vertical marathon was 79. So, the next time you start making excuses for why you can't exercise, raise a glass to him.