Third Sector Excellence Awards 2012: Fundraising Event - Winner: Shelter: Vertical Rush

Awarded to an innovative fundraising event that achieved or exceeded its targets

Celebrities including Jon Snow tackled the 920 steps of Tower 42
Celebrities including Jon Snow tackled the 920 steps of Tower 42

Dashing up one of the tallest buildings in the City of London was the sell-out running challenge with a difference organised by the homelessness charity Shelter in March.

Vertical Rush is a tower running event in which participants tackle the 920 steps linking the 42 storeys of Tower 42, the second tallest skyscraper in the City. The event, now in its fourth year, attracted 1,200 runners this year, helping to raise more than £300,000 for the charity.

The event, on 1 March, was designed to be accessible to all ages and did not require runners to go through months of training. Entrants could take part before work or during their lunch breaks. They could also enter in teams so that they could participate with friends or colleagues. Celebrities including news presenter Jon Snow and chef Tom Aikens took part.

ShelterShelter's events team worked with Tower 42 and the PR company Redwood Consulting to promote the event, and employed events management company Caledonian Concepts to ensure the runners' safety.

Inspiration for the event came from the Empire State Building Run Up in New York, where tower running is popular. Before Vertical Rush began, there had been no event on this scale in the UK.

The event secured coverage in publications ranging from The Times to Women's Fitness, helping to raise significant awareness of Shelter's work.

The event also attracted some unusual participants. One runner took it upon himself to run a vertical mile by running up the tower 10 times in an hour, and another ran in his full fireman's outfit.

As a result of the success of the event, Shelter says it has been able to reach hundreds of new supporters and the companies they work for.

Richard Gutch, one of the category judges and an associate at third sector recruitment agency Prospectus, said: "Vertical Rush may be in its fourth year, but it's a very innovative and participative idea."

The challenge is now part of the international Vertical World Circuit, a network of nine tower running events.

JUDGING PANEL

David Burrows, head of fundraising, TDA

Richard Gutch, associate, Prospectus

Alan Hopley, director of fundraising, marketing and communications, Addaction

Alistair McLean, chief executive, Fundraising Standards Board

OTHER FINALISTS

- FareShare: Million Meal Appeal

- Kids for Kids: Drawn ... to Darfur

- Zoological Society of London: Zoo Lates

- Read about the winning entries

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