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WWF CN Tower Climb for Nature kicks off and 2016’s fastest is back

The climb up Canada's tallest building begins Saturday and caps off with the elite and corporate races on Sunday in the Ontario capital.

WWF CN Tower Climb for Nature

For the first time ever, the WWF CN Tower Climb is offering an elite category for their iconic race up the stairs of Canada’s tallest building. In the lead up to race, taking place on April 8-9 with public as well as corporate climbs, respectively. Canadian Running reached out to some of the brave individuals who will be toeing the line on the second day of climbing.

RELATED: WWF CN Tower Climb for Nature: A wild adventure.

Tyler Kruschenke, from Brantford, Ont. is one of those people who makes fitness a lifestyle. The obstacle-course racer is returning to the WWF CN Tower Climb for the fourth year straight; he was the fastest person up the 1,776 steps in 2016. We chatted with Kruschenke, ahead of race day.

CR: How did you get into obstacle-course racing (OCR)?

TK: I’m the type of guy that likes to try out lots of different sports, especially the adrenaline kind—bungee jumping, skydiving, white-water rafting. I’ve always respected gymnasts. So, a few years back I did a bit of googling and signed up for my first Mud Run. It wasn’t so much of a success…I thought the race started at 9 a.m. and it turns out that it had started at 8, so the race directors let me test it out in the kid’s run. It was short, but fun, especially the giant mud pit at the end. I decided to take things more seriously and start training, which led to elite heats and last year, which was a breakthrough year for me, I won a few races.

I trained on 32 flights of stairs today in a local apartment building in @city_of_brantford @waynegretzkysc in preparation for the @wwf @TourCNTower @cityofto This is my 4th attempt and 1st time actually training on stairs. Each year I've managed to improve my time and improve in my #OCR races. @SpartanRace @SpartanRaceCanada Each year I've attempted to get up the Tower, i've just "winged it"and managed 1st place, but this year I've planned a strategy along with hitting some flights of stairs. My cardio and overall fitness level is higher than this time last year, so I expect an improvement. How much? I shall see, it's a sprint, not a marathon, leaving very little wiggle room to improve. #VeryPumped #VeryExcited 👊👊👊 #KrushingTowers 👊👊👊 @2xu_canada @gardenoflifecanada @goattough

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What does your training look like?

I’m a metre-reader for Union Gas and when I interviewed there two years ago, one of my questions was: “Can I run my route?” My boss said sure (but warned me that no one does that), so now I run anywhere from 15-42K as part of my workday. I average over 100K a week. Sometimes I’ll stop and do burpees on the sidewalk, or if I’m passing by a playground, I’ll stop to use the monkey-bars. Grip strength, hill running and being able to carry loads are really important for OCR, so I incorporate those into my weekly training as well. And a lot of HIIT (high intensity interval training).

Where do you think your sport is headed?

It’s getting big. I think it’s inevitable that it will be an Olympic sport one day.

What’s the relationship between OCR and Cross-fit?

I think a lot of cross-fitters are drawn to obstacle course races because, like cross-fit, they’re based on functional movement. I think OCR gives cross-fitters a bit of an eye opener about their training though—most of them aren’t getting a lot of endurance training, they’re not running that much and they’re spending the majority of their time in the gym, which means they can handle the obstacles, but they’re really challenged by the running in between obstacles.

What’s special about the WWF CN Tower Climb?

The CN Tower is Canada’s national landmark, so there’s something special about trying to get up it as fast as you can and seeing how hard you can push your body. I’m aiming for a nine-minute climb this year.