Soh Wai Ching puts Malaysia on the map with the Guinness World Record for Greatest Vertical Height Stair Climbing in One Hour

‘Officially Amazing’ affirms the Guinness World Records, when Soh Wai Ching recently succeeded in breaking the world record in Greatest Vertical Height Stair Climbing in One Hour.

Currently ranked first in Asia and second in the world, the 25 year-old KL-born athlete climbed 1.295 km to accomplish his feat at the Four Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on November 18th. Progressing to towerrunning through track running and road running, Wai Ching now leads the Malaysia Towerrunning Association as President. The strong and self-belief athlete believes towerrunning can be the new trend in Malaysia and aims to grow the sport with a group of passionate towerrunners.

ToughASIA caught up with Wai Ching to find out his inspiration and motivation behind the success of his Guinness World Record.

ToughASIA: What inspired you to break the Guinness World Record in Greatest Vertical Height Stair Climbing in One Hour?

Wai Ching: It is always a dream since childhood when I flipped the Guinness World Records Book and I wondered whether I will have my name and country included in the book someday. I dream of that one day, when I will have my name in it.

ToughASIA: What does this world record mean to you?

Wai Ching: This world record provides a good start to promote towerrunning as a sport in Malaysia. I was very glad in getting the support from many local news media to cover this event. Furthermore, as the President of Malaysia Towerrunning Association, this is what we want to achieve and we hope all Malaysians will get to know about the existence of towerrunning.

ToughASIA: How different was this world record attempt compared to other towerrunning competitions?

Wai Ching: It was totally different in a way that you are against the clock on your own this time. For my case, the record is about breaking the height of 1.227km within an hour.

Therefore, I need to know how fast the lift comes down from the top to the bottom floor as the 1 hour includes the descend time (lift time), and how many climbs I need to make to achieve the height. I need to also understand the floor plan of the building and identify the pace that I need to maintain per repetition of going up to beat the current record.

Stepping up to world record success. (Facebook/Soh Wai Ching)

ToughASIA: How did you prepare yourself mentally for this world record attempt?

Wai Ching: I am glad to be able to train at the hotel staircase for a total of 11 times (3 times weekly on every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 6.30pm – 8.30pm). I practiced imagination prior to the attempt, recruited all the senses while practising it. During all my training sessions, I listened to my favourite songs through the earphones I got.

ToughASIA: What was your fuel / hydration / nutrition preparation – before, during and after the attempt?

Wai Ching: I loaded with up carbohydrates 2 days prior to the attempt, and I took potato-based power drink prior to the record attempt and during the attempt.

ToughASIA: Did your plans for the record attempt go well for you?

Wai Ching: It didn’t go well to be honest. I didn’t have enough rest prior to the attempt, overloaded myself with too many things to do on that day. Furthermore, my watch suddenly went haywire and all the songs disappeared. Therefore, I got my Vice President, Ravinder Singh to text in the group chat with all the volunteers (situated in the staircase) to get them to play the songs from their phone so that I won’t be so bored while going up the stairs.

During the climb, I suffered severe cramps on both my calves on the third repetition during my ascent. Usually, I never had cramps before during all the training sessions. To overcome this, I had to switch my technique of going up the stairs to reduce using my calves and instead, use more of my upper body especially both hands to hold the handrail and pull myself upwards.

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Soh Wai Ching and Ravinder Singh (left) are both passionate to inspire more world-class towerruning Malaysians

ToughASIA: How did you manage to train during this pandemic with all the movement restriction orders?

Wai Ching: Ravinder and I got the approval from Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur to allow both of us to train there every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday from 6.30pm – 8.30pm. It was only both of us and we were both going at a different pace to keep the distance between us.

ToughASIA: What advice do you have for fellow Malaysians who want to follow your footsteps into towerrunning?

Wai Ching: They can start training at their staircases. Staircases are available everywhere and it is free. You can use the condominium’s staircase, apartment’s staircase, park staircases or even LRT and MRT staircases to train. Make sure you won’t feel any pain while doing it and then you are good to go.

  • Start with less volume, for example, you may go up to 3 repetitions of 10 – 20 floors, with rest in between. Take the lift to descend down to the ground floor as running down the stairs is not recommended (high impact towards your knees, ankles – unless you are strong then you can do that, because it is another way of training, but not recommended). Slowly increase the volume once your muscles are adapt to it.
  • If you are not active in sport: 3 repetition of 15 – 20 floors, with rest between each repetition and one day break between sessions, 3 times a week.
  • If you are active (you went jog twice or three times a week): 5 repetition of 15 – 20 floors, with rest between each repetition and one day break between session, 3 times a week. You may go for running between the stairs training day as a cross training.
  • If you are a more active sportsmen: 7 repetition of 15 – 20 floors, with rest between each repetition and one day break between the session, 3 times a week. You may go for your sporting activity between the stairs training day as a cross training.

Wai Ching’s parents are the pillars behind his towerrunning success.

ToughASIA: What are your running (including towerrunning) goals for the next 12 months?

Wai Ching: In December, I will be taking part in the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) Virtual Run 10km. I will be aiming to clock a sub-35 minute timing with 3 weeks of training prior to that.

In the meantime, I will still be actively doing stairs training. I will be also officially attempting 3 Malaysia Book of Records on a Stair Climb Machine (Climb Excite – Technogym). If the races are not back yet in year 2021, I will be planning to officially attempt another Guinness World Records title and this time the record is Fastest Vertical Mile Stair Climbing.

ToughASIA: What are the highlights leading to this world record attempt?

Wai Ching: This world record attempt has been a community effort. My family members have been the pillars of my support prior to this attempt. Additionally, my Vice President, Ravinder Singh shared his ideas, guided me and together, we both worked really hard to secure more sponsorship to cover the cost of organizing this event.

Thankfully, we managed to secure enough sponsors which chipped in with their expertise, some to sponsor the venue and others who covered all the cost.

Photos provided by Soh Wai Ching.