2002/10/16
 
12:43

Inventing a Winter Sport

Recently I saw some guys on TV who had invented a new sport: they dropped a kayak from a balloon (with somebody in it, yet!). The occupant would perform various kinds of aerobatics on the way down. Fortunately, they had the foresight to equip the fellow with a parachute. I think they called their new sport "skayaking". (That's just a guess, but surely it's the obvious choice.)

Inventing a completely new sport must be a difficult challenge. In a world where people do backflips into pasta salad for money (again, just a guess), it's hard to come up with something truly new. This is a particularly knotty problem for me because, well, I'm not very sporty.

My idea of a "sport" is walking, and I do a lot of it. In the 17 months I've been in Toronto, I estimate that I've covered at least 400 kilometers on the city's streets. By the way: never ever try to walk along Don Mills south to Broadview. With no sidewalks, stone walls on either side, and plenty of blind curves, that's the closest I've ever come to being roadkill, and it's not something I'm going to risk again.

I live in Scarborough, so most of my walks start there. Now what can I say about that part of Toronto that hasn't been said before? Walking around Scarborough is not terribly interesting. There are some scenic vistas, such as the Bluffs, but if you're looking for sheer mind-numbing sameness, few experiences can compare to a stroll along fence-lined Bellamy Road south of Ellesmere.

Walking around Scarborough in winter is even less interesting, but whiter. This presents a problem: how am I going to burn calories in February? I don't play traditional Canadian sports like hockey, and the last time I tried curling I slipped on the ice and nearly fractured my noggin. I prefer to stick with the familiar: putting one foot in front of the other.

I considered getting one of those "stair-master" devices, but they cost hundreds of dollars and gather a lot of dust. It then dawned on me: I live in a large apartment building. Apartment buildings have lots of stairs. I can walk up stairs.

So today I took two practice runs (well, staggers – I'm still in training). I went to the fire-stairs on my floor (the third), wheezed up to the 17th, walked to the other side of the building, back down to the ground floor, checked my mail (I hate truly pointless exercise), then climbed back to the third floor. Initial time: 12 minutes. On my next run, a few hours later, I shaved this down to 9 minutes.

I know other people have climbed stairs for exercise. But hey, have any of them ever bothered to claim it was a sport? If not, I will. And as the "inventor" of the sport, I have the right to name it.

That's when I get into trouble.

As somebody who fancies himself a bit of wordsmith, I am aghast to admit that I can't come up with a name better than ... I can barely bring myself to type this ... Stair Trek.

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