One of the world’s top stair climbers set a new event record finishing ahead of more than 9,000 people who took part in WWF’s CN Tower Climb for Nature. Shaun Stephens-Whale, a Roberts Creek, B.C. native, covered the 1,776 steps of the iconic Toronto tower in less than 10 minutes on Sunday.

The Canadian mountain running team member ran up the stairs of third tallest tower in the world in a leg-numbing 9:54.9. The former varsity runner with the University of British Columbia is a regular on the stair-climbing scene. So far in 2017, he has raced, among other spots, at the Eiffel Tower, the Etihad Towers in the United Arab Emirates and the Empire State Building. He also had a record-breaking day at Rainier Tower in Seattle in January.

The previous WWF-Canada climb record was “around 10 minutes” according to the organization while the all-time record for the CN Tower is believed to be 7:52 from 1989. (The CN Tower staircase contained 1,700 steps until 1996.) “Either a timing error or an elevator component that they removed,” Stephens-Whale commented on a Facebook post in reference to Brendan Keenoy’s 1989 time. “The time is beyond human, for sure.”

Sunday marked the first time that the 27-year-old has raced up the CN Tower, located in downtown Toronto. Among the finishers was former Toronto mayor David Miller, now the president and CEO of WWF-Canada, who completed the climb in 24:48. If Sunday’s CN Tower Climb was not enough for Stephens-Whale, he also climbed up two neighbouring buildings in the downtown core to reach more than 1,000m of vertical on the day.

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“The Tower is intimidating. I started conservatively, got into the zone and before I knew it I was at the 60th floor,” Stephens-Whale says. “Breaking 10 minutes was my goal, so I’m happy to have achieved that – and to get the record. I’ll have to come back and see how fast I can go.”

The climb was 144 floors from ground level to the observation deck of the CN Tower, which is one of the city’s more popular tourist destinations and an iconic landmark in the Ontario capital. Participants go off at given intervals in a time-trial-like fashion. Stephens-Whales prefers to climb two stairs at a time and utilizes the handrails to help propel up the steps.

Finish

Stephens-Whale’s athletic talents extend beyond the sport of stair climbing, known as tower running, as he also races on the roads. He finished second at the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run Half-Marathon on April 2 in 1:11:08. Meanwhile the top finisher in the female division was 12-year-old Aysia Maurice, who completed the CN Tower climb in an incredible 12:53. (Interview and full story to on Maurice here.)

The WWF CN Tower Climb for Nature is a two-day event open to the public. The CN Tower Climb raises funds to “reverse the decline of wildlife in Canada and around the world.” Full results can be found here.

Next for Stephens-Whale is a climb up Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China set for June. The event serves as the Tower Running World Championships.


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