Everest on the Westcliff Stairs for the Sunflower Fund

Physio- Rangers of Motion team

On Saturday the 25 August 2018, our physio team, Rangers of Motion will be part of the Everest challenge. As a relay team of 6 we need to complete 170 laps of the Westcliff stairs in 17 hours. To put into perspective, one needs to get up and down the Westcliff stairs in under 6mins per lap (that dawned on me just a few weeks ago, and instead of long and strong, I shifted my focus to faster per repetition)

The Sunflower Fund is a non- profit organisation that fights blood diseases like leukaemia through the recruitment of stem cell donors and maintaining a registry of potential donors committed to helping anyone in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant.

I have used the Westcliff stairs as training before for various running events. When I heard about the Everest challenge a few years ago, I wanted in. I love the stairs- I have said it many times, it is where Jo’burg meets, or where you meet Jo’burg. On any given day at any given time you will find someone on the stairs doing something- you get your runners training for their next event, the hikers and their back packs training for a hike, climbers training for an expedition, local dog walkers, moms doing a few laps while they wait for kids at school, workers in the area taking a short cut home. There are all sorts of characters, with all sorts of reasons for being there, but we are all in agreement the Westcliff stairs are tough. I love going to the stairs and in between my stair climbing, I love talking to those there and finding out what why they are there for.

It is often said that “exercise is medicine” and it is true it is- from the actual physical exertion, to the solidarity of being in a place where different people are there for different reasons. Even if you talk to no-one when you do the stairs, you can feel the purpose of everyone there, and you have to love it.

History of the  Westcliff stairs:

The stone stairs in Westcliff date back to the Great Depression of 1929-1933. The City Council embarked on extensive public works programmes, such as, building the Orlando and Kelvin Power Stations, as well as projects where they could use unskilled labour. This included retaining walls along the Braamfontein Spruit, pathways in The Wilds and the Westcliff Steps.

Benefits of the Westcliff stairs/ or stair training:

  • it is a high intensity work out- we know that moderate intensity exercise is good, and high intensity is better.
  • it can be used as interval training- burst of high intensity exercise in a work out.
  • it is safe- at an given time on any given day I have been there, and there are people doing something
  • it is a contained space- as a group of friends training for an event (hiking, running etc) people of different abilities can partake and you can all enjoy the camaraderie of your peers.
  • Stair climbing builds great lower leg strength
  • it brings a sense of accomplishment- nothing like a couple of reps of stairs, to make you feel like you can conquer the world- Especially if you sing “Eye of the Tiger” to yourself.

The good news for you is that you don’t actually have to head to the Westcliff stairs to do your stair training, but rather just incorporate stairs into  your everyday life. It is funny how in some environments I always take the stairs, and in others I often take the lift. I could definitely take the stairs more often (not just when I am training for the Everest challenge). For more on the benefit of stair climbing have a look at the StepJockey website.

If you are on a path to good health, it is always good to remember  “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”- be this taking the stairs at work, or running up and down the flight of stairs at a stadium, or the Westcliff stairs themselves, everything you do contributes to your health.

If you are around on Saturday the 25 Augsut 2018, why not come and join us on the stairs, and do a few laps in support of the Sunflower Fund.

If you would like to donate to my Everest Challenge on the Westcliff stairs please click here.

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