Glam challenge: 96 competitors in Paris stiletto race

The only rule is to be perched on heels at least eight centimetres (three inches) high -- the prize is boxes and boxes of shoes.

(AFP) -

The only rule is to be perched on heels at least eight centimetres (three inches) high - the prize is boxes and boxes of shoes.

A total 96 shoe addicts, a common condition with fashionistas, have signed up for Friday evening's National Stiletto Championship, taking place after office hours on an indoor track in the old stock exchange building in central Paris.

"The finalists are training very seriously," said Caroline Gentien, who works for the online shoe-sale site that came up with the idea, Sarenza.com. "Walking on heels is no piece of cake."

The finalists hail from all over France and made it into the glam challenge after a series of regional races.

"We came up with the idea just two years ago, and this year 400 candidates signed up for the regional races," Gentien added.

The prize is 3,000 euros worth of shoes.

The race, being run at around 9:30 pm (2030 GMT), is a three-part relay over 180 metres (yards) involving 32 teams of three with names such as "Yes We Can", "Sexpistols" or "Superwoman".

Volunteers from the Red Cross will be standing by in case of accident, but last year's competition wound up without a single twisted ankle.

Winners of the 2008 edition will be competing again this year, a TV journalist, a psychologist, and a lawyer competing under team name "Talk To My Foot (Parle A Mon Pied)".

"We all love shoes and we love having fun," said journalist Dorothee Kristy, 29. "The only training we do is running to catch a train or a bus every day."

Also taking part in the event is stilleto school "Talons Academy", a private business that doles out tips on how to walk in heels without hurting one's back or one's ankles.

"A lot of women love high heels but don't dare wear them," said school founder Marine Aubonnet. "Or else they cheat. They go to a rendez-vous in flat shoes and put their stilettos on at the last minute. It's true that it is harder to find your balance on heels."

The trick for Friday's contestants, she said, was "mastering the half-turn. Turning is a key, you have to get it right for each foot. Stilettos is all about technique."

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