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Over 4,000 people join eighth annual Taipei 101 run up for charity

TAIPEI--Over 4,000 people yesterday joined a marathon race to run up Taiwan's tallest building to challenge themselves and raise money for a charitable cause.

The annual event, now in its eighth year, kicked off at 8 a.m. at the Taipei 101 lobby and saw runners from Taiwan and 19 other countries climb 2,046 stairs, or 390 meters, up to the 91st floor of the building.

“I hope my participation can encourage more people to face the shortcomings in their lives,” said Zhai Xiaowei, a Chinese dancer who lost one leg in an accident when he was four.

Zhai, 27, said he decided to come to Taiwan to join the event after hearing about it from his friend.

“I enjoy challenges, especially when I am able to reach beyond my limits when my body feels tired and wants to give up,” said Zhai. “It's an exiting feeling, a feeling of victory.”

Zhai finished 85th among 88 runners with a time of 49 minutes 35 seconds.

Norbert Lechner from Austria, who joined the race for the first time, said it was the most difficult marathon of its kind he has participated in, comparing it to races in Chicago's Willis Tower and New York's Empire State Building.

“The steps are very high and steep,” said 27-year-old Lechner, who added that it was already difficult for him when he reached the stairs in the 30th story and from the 60th story stairs and up he was just running on will power.

Germany's Thomas Dold, a three time winner of the event, called the race an “unbelievable challenge” and the building “so incredibly high.” Several runners laid flat on their backs after reaching the finishing line.

Dold finished second in the elite runners' men's division, four seconds behind Mark Bourne from Australia, who clocked 11 minutes 26 seconds.

Despite the difficulty, Lechner said he joined the race because it's one of the most famous races and “it's a charity and a good reason to run.”

Organizers said they raised over NT$2 million (US$66,822) from the marathon and the series of pre-races for ORBIS International — a non-profit organization working to prevent blindness and offer treatments in developing countries.

A total of NT$4 million will be donated to ORBIS after the Standard Chartered Bank's Taiwan branch, which sponsored the event, matches the contributions, said organizers.

Held under the banner “Run for a Reason,” organizers said the event encourages runners to challenge themselves and to participate in charity at the same time.

The event, jointly organized by the Taipei Financial Center Corp. and the Taipei City Government, divides contestants into elite runners, charity relay groups, corporate groups and individual runners.

Meanwhile, in the women's division Valentina Belotti from Italy won for the second year in a row, in a time of 13 minutes 21 seconds. The total cash prize for the race was NT$1,010,000.

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Zhai Xiaowei, who is from China and has but one leg, finishes the Taipei 101 Run Up Race organized by Standard Chartered Bank, yesterday. He said he enjoys overcoming challenges ...

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