The opening event for the 10th year of the Dubai Fitness Championship (DFC) is one for the record books. It’s a timed trial up 160 flights of stairs inside the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Checking in at 828 meters (2,716 feet) with 2,909 individual stairs, the Burj Khalifa is a magnificent sight to behold as it towers above the city of Dubai — but it’s equally daunting to think about ascending it stair by stair. The event — officially called The Burj Khalifa Challenge — kicks off the DFC, which begins the morning of December 2, 2022, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Off-Site Events in DFC History
Athletes have competed in a number of off-site events at the DFC over the years. One of the first notable off-site locations was called The Stick, a 32-kilometer bike race. Since then, athletes have done desert runs, pool swims, and ocean swims, including once under the shadow of the Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel in Dubai.
The first two workouts of the 2021 competition took place at Ski Dubai — snow and all — inside the Emirates Mall, where athletes had to do 500 meters on a ski erg as well as a 400-meter run up and down a slope.
How’s This Going to Work?
Since the stairways are narrow, athletes will have to ask other competitors to move out of their way as they ascend the building. The contestants are scored on a chip timer and will be released one at a time with a two-minute buffer between each one.
Challenges for the Athletes
There are a few obstacles during this workout that you can’t easily train for: There’s no air conditioning, there’s an escalating elevation change, and the ability — or necessity — to use the railings to help pull yourself up the endless flights of stairs is likely something very few have practiced.
The ability to adapt to some of these challenges with little or no preparation time is a skill that can be very valuable in this sport — this is one of those times.
Will There Be a Live Stream?
Athletes will be in the stairwells for a majority of the race, though at times, they’ll have to exit one stairwell and enter another. Although this is a unique and fascinating test, there won’t be a live stream due to the difficulty of filming.
Setting Up the Weekend
This is the only event athletes will participate in on day one of the competition. The competitors will reconvene Saturday at 4 p.m. GST (local time in Dubai) at the Coca-Cola Arena to continue with the competition.
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