Elderly pole climber delights in English competition

Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:09pm EDT
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A farm in rural Warwickshire was taken over by the World 25 metre Pole climbing championships on Saturday (September 17).

An unusual sport, for these athletes sprinting 25 meters isn't enough of a challenge; they prefer to do it straight up a timber pole.

The sport stems from North America where lumberjacks would scale some of the largest trees in the forest, sending off the branches with their axes as they went up the massive trees.

This provided a winching point to lift all the heavy timber to one central landing area where the machines could be used.

The sport is becoming highly specialised with a world-class field looking at the tiniest details in training, equipment and nutrition to give them the winning edge.

Some use titanium spikes which can help improve times. The accomplished competitor makes this sport look easy but given the highly tuned skills required, this is very challenging indeed.

One of the day's most popular competitors however, was a man older than the 80-year-old tree he was climbing - 83 year old George Tipping.

After losing his wife to cancer, George has been raising money for a cancer charity by pole climbing for over 18 years and not surprisingly won the admiration of both his peers and spectators at the event.

However, the overall winner was 19 year old Dan Whelan, a tree surgeon from Shropshire, who beat World record holder Grant Galler in the final. Dan's winning time was 9.961 - Grant's time was 10.90.

He was one of the youngest competitors in the competition. The oldest was his grandfather, George Tipping, a spritely 83 year old from Widnes, Merseyside and a legend of the pole-climbing scene.

The World Pole Climbing Championships will take place again in the UK in two years time.