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Mark Bourne won the Race to Shanghai IFC this morning to become the first person to beat world champion Piotr Lobodzinski in 2019.

The Australian mountain running star reached the top of the 1,460-step tower in 7:58, ahead of Lobodzinski, who finished in 8:05.

Bourne, who set the course record of 7:42 in 2016, was back on the tower running circuit for the first time since May. But the five month break from the stairs (albeit filled with mountain running) seems to have done the Canberra man no harm at all.

The race on Sunday morning was the fifth occasion the long-time rivals had met this season, with Lobodzinski having won each of those races.

Heading into the event, Lobodzinski was on an 11-race win streak and was hoping to maintain his unbeaten run to the end of the season.

But on this particular course, the world number one has often struggled to beat Bourne, and once again he found himself undone.

It was the first time since 2014 that Lobodzinski failed to finish in under eight minutes.

Bourne now extends his record to four wins in the last six years at Shanghai IFC.

Third place on the day went to Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe who finished in 8:17.

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Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

Mark Bourne – winner of the 2013 Empire State Building Run-Up, seven-time winner of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower Stair Climb, holder of numerous course records and one of the top stair climbers in the world over the past decade – is the right man to take tower running advice from.

Bourne spoke with Men’s Health (Australia) to give some expert tower running tips, including pointers on warming up, pacing yourself and establishing a rhythm during a race.

Here are some of the highlights:

The lead up to the race

‘You definitely don’t want to be training the day before the race. I might do a light jog two days before, but it won’t be anything strenuous.’

‘Have confidence in your preparation and don’t introduce new things into your training routine.’

Warming up

‘Some 10 or 20 metre sprints at about 75 per cent would be a good warm-up. If you can find a small single stairwell to run up then that will also get the blood pumping around your body.’

Eat light

‘It’s not like a marathon so you don’t need to go carb loading. The worse thing you could do is fill yourself up to the point of feeling sick.’

‘It’s a personal preference but I also have a good hit of caffeine in the morning.’

Mark Bourne towerrunning

How to run a stair race

Aim for a steady pace

‘You’re going to be tempted to race off as quickly as you can, but you need to take it steady. Start off conservatively with a pace that you think you can maintain. And don’t worry if you find yourself running parts of the race and walking other bits, it’s bound to happen.’

‘The lactic acid will build up and burn deep in your legs, if you have to slow down then just do it. Walking intensely for a few flights will serve you better than trying to run through a pain that you can’t shake.’

Two steps at a time and use the railing

‘Make use of the railing, it can assist you when you’re going around corners. The other thing professionals do is climb two steps at a time. Whether you are walking or running, always aim for a couple steps in each time you go forward.’

Establish a rhythm

‘It’s not just a physical battle but a gruelling mental slog. You need to find a zone where you can just concentrate on your stepping rhythm and tunnel your vision towards the goal of reaching the top.’

‘It’s best to ignore any progress and avoid looking at the stairwell numbers. From the word go, see how far you can get before working out how high you are, the numbers will only slow you down.’

For the full list of tips, including what to do after a race, check out Bourne’s interview with Men’s Health Australia.

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The London Underground is still the simplest and most accessible training venue in the capital for those preparing for a stair running event.

With just an Oyster card and bottle of water in hand, you can zip around the city on the Tube to get in a solid workout on the emergency staircases at various stations.

But which Tube stations are the best for stair running? Read on to find out.

Although stair running on the Tube network is simple, it’s not without its problems.

Pros:

  • Easy access
  • Available from early morning to late evening
  • Mostly clear of other people (depending on time of day)
  • Lift back down available to start next climb


Cons:

  • Often dusty and dirty
  • Sooty rails blacken hands
  • Can’t leave bag down (security concerns)
  • Spiral staircases can be awkward to run on
  • No landing turns so can’t practice techniques for actual stair race

But if you just want somewhere straightforward to add some vertical to your training routine then the Underground is hard to beat. Keep reading to find out the five Tube stations with the highest number of steps and how to get to them.

5. Goodge Street

Goodge Street station stairs

How many steps: 136
What line is it on: Northern (Charing Cross branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

4. Russell Square

Russell Square station stairs

How many steps: 171 (claimed number is 175)
What line is it on: Piccadilly
How to find it above ground?: Map

3. Belsize Park

Belsize_Park_Station._Emergency_Stairs

How many steps: 189 (claimed number is 219)
What line is it on: Northern (Edgware branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

2. Covent Garden

Covent Garden station stairs

How many steps: 193
What line is it on: Piccadilly
How to find it above ground?: Map

1. Hampstead

hampstead_tube_station_emergency_staircase_-_geograph-org-uk_-_1473478 (1)

How many steps: 320
What line is it on: Northern (Edgware branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

If you want alternative ideas for places to do stair running training, check out our guide on the best places to run stairs in London for inspiration.

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Piotr Lobodzinski and Mark Bourne renew their rivalry this coming Sunday (20 October) in the eighth round of the Vertical World Circuit series in Shanghai, China.

The pair have faced off three times in the Vertical World Circuit this year, with Lobodzinski coming out on top on each occasion.

At the 2,917-step Lotte World Tower International Sky Run in Seoul, back at the start of April, Lobodzinski set a new course record of 15:37 – a huge 16 second improvement on his previous fastest time. Bourne himself ran a magnificent race to finish just two seconds behind in 15:39.

A week later the pair went head-to-head again in Milan, at the 1,027-step Allianz Tower.

At the finish, less than a second separated them. But once again it was Lobodzinski who came out on top, setting a new course record of 5:16 in the process.

Two weeks later the Australian had another chance to attempt to beat his Polish rival. The action returned to Asia for the inaugural Vinpearl Luxury Landmark 81 – Race to the Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 2,383 steps stood between the bottom and the top of the world’s 14th tallest tower.

Once again Lobodzinski took the win. His finishing time of 11:35 was a massive 50 seconds faster than Bourne’s.

VWC 2018 winner Lobodzinski

Piotr Lobodzinski won the Vertical World Circuit title in 2018

Now the action heads to Shanghai, where the pair have been swapping wins over the past few seasons.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: Race to Shanghai IFC

2014
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:55)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (8:10)

2015
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (8:22)

2016
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:42 – course record)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:47)

2017
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:44)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53)

2018
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:43)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (7:59)

Heading into Sunday’s clash, Lobodzinski is confident he can maintain his unbeaten run in 2019.

‘After my win last year here, I know I can break the course record now,’ said the world number one. ‘We will see, but it should be a fast and interesting battle like always. I can’t wait!’

After recently competing at the OCR World Championships – where his Team OCRA finished 5th – Lobodzinski is refocusing on the stairs.

Although Mark Bourne has been out of the stairwells since the Taipei 101 Run-Up in May (where he also finished as runner-up to Lobodzinski), he has competed in mountain running events since then. What sort of form he’ll be in on Sunday remains to be seen.

Check back on Sunday/Monday, as we’ll have all the news from the race as results come in.

The Empire State Building Run Up is the longest continuously running stair climb event in the world, and in 2020 it returns for its 43rd edition.

High on the wish list for probably every stair climber out there, the ESBRU is frustratingly difficult to get into, with some climbers applying year-on-year and failing to get a spot.

Read on to find out what we know so far about the 2020 edition.

When is the Empire State Building Run Up (ESBRU) 2020?

The date for the 43rd edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up is yet to be announced. Last year it took place in May, which was a big shift from it’s typical run date of the first week in February.

The race organisers, NYC Runs, are yet to confirm if the event will happen in May again, or revert back to earlier in the year. We’ll update this page as soon as they respond to our request for more information.

Like the similarly iconic Eiffel Tower Stair Climb, the event is run at night, with competitors setting off from 8pm, to as late as 10pm in previous editions.

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission
How to enter the Empire State Building Run Up (ESBRU)?

Entry to the ESBRU is through an open lottery system. Entry fee, which is taken if you are selected in the lottery, is $125 (approx.).

There are also charity slots available each year, but the minimum fundraising requirement for these is pretty steep, so you might have to get friends and family to dig deep if you go down that route.

The number of available places has dropped a fair amount recently, so it will be interesting to see how many spots are made available for the 2020 edition.

Empire State Building Run Up 2020 lottery registration

The ESBRU registration page usually goes live a few weeks before the registration portal itself opens.

If the 2020 event is to be run in February, you can expect the lottery page to go live in mid November 2019. If it’s held in May again then you’re looking at February 2020 before you can register.

We’ll be checking in with NYC Runs regularly and bring you news of registration as soon as it’s available.

What is the Empire State Building Run Up?

The Empire State Building is the historical home of tower running in the USA. The event was created by Fred Lebow in 1978, who also organised the first New York City marathon back in 1970. Learn all about the background to the event by reading the first installment in our series on the history of the Empire State Building Run-Up.

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The race involves a climb up 1,576 steps (86 floors) to the viewing deck at the top of the building, usually ending outside when the weather permits.

Having been run by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) for years, the ESBRU is now organised by NYC Runs.

The winners list for the ESBRU reads as a who’s who of tower running greats. From Terry Purcell, Cindy Harris and Thomas Dold to Darren Wilson, Christian Riedl, Piotr Lobodzinski and the incredible course record holder Paul Crake, the ESBRU podium has been topped by most of the best athletes to ever climb the stairs to the top of a tower.

Ten-time winner Suzy Walsham is in a league of her own at the venue, although it’s Austria’s Andrea Mayr who holds the women’s course record of 11:23, which she set back in 2006.

Walsham ESBRU 2019

Suzy Walsham made it a record ten ESBRU wins when she took victory in 2019

Empire State Building Run Up Records

Fastest times

Paul Crake (AUS) – 9:33 (2003)

Andrea Mayr (AUT) – 11:23 (2006)

Most wins

Suzy Walsham (AUS) – ten

Thomas Dold (GER) – seven

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Italy has produced a set of fantastic tower runners and Fabio Ruga is one of the very best.

Italian tower runners have been topping podiums around the world for close to 15 years. Bellotti, Bonacina, De Gasperi and Manzi have all won big races against top rivals.

With a background in mountain running, Fabio Ruga made his tower running debut in Milan in 2006, where he finished second behind the great Marco De Gasperi.

Over the past 13 years, he’s raced against, and often beat, some of the top tower runners of this generation, including stars such as Thomas Dold and Christian Riedl.

Fabio Ruga

Fabio Ruga finishes one step behind Marco De Gasperi on his tower running debut in 2006

UK tower running fans should be well familiar with the Italian. The course record of 4:07 he set at the Gherkin in 2010 still stands. A year later he won Vertical Rush. Since then he’s been on the podium at Tower 42 a number of times, clocking a brilliant personal best of 4:11 in 2012.

Ruga Gherkin winner 2010

Ruga celebrates at the top of the Gherkin, after setting the course record in 2010

The indomitable Ruga is still winning races. His victories this year include the fourth leg of the Vertical World Circuit at Tour First in Paris, where he beat Omar Bekkali and Emanuele Manzi, and the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run in Rottweil, Germany last month, where he finished ahead of top Germans, Christian Riedl and Görge Heimann.

Fabio Ruga 2019

Fabio Ruga celebrates winning the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run, September 2019

Other notable performances this year include third-place finishes at the Empire State Building Run-Up and the Allianz Vertical Run in Milan.

The Italian star recently caught up with publication La Repubblica to discuss his win in Rottweil, plus how he got into stair running and what his real passion is. Click the link below for the full article.

La Repubblica interview with Fabio Ruga

He also gave another interesting interview to Atletica Pidaggia 15●28 earlier in the year, in which he explains why he came back to tower running after some time away.

Atletica Pidaggia 15●28 interview with Fabio Ruga

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1906 eiffel tower race

Tower running returned to the Eiffel Tower in 1906, as athletes from around France gathered to see if they could break the course record set the year before.

At the time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world, and on 26th November 1905 it had hosted what is believed to be the first recorded tower race in history. On that day, cyclist Eugene Forestier was the fastest up the 729 steps that led to the second platform of the tower. His winning time was 3:12.80.

A year on from that inaugural event and some of the best athletes from the French running and cycling scene arrived in Paris with one goal in mind; break Forestier’s record. Find out about the Eiffel Tower stair race of 1905, or read on for the story of the second edition.

Championnat de la tour Eiffel 1906

The second Eiffel Tower stair race took place on Sunday 18th November 1906. As it had been the year before, the event was organised by a publication called Les Sports.

Once again, the race involved running up 729 steps to the second platform (of three) of the tower. The reason they didn’t run to the top is the organisers felt the stairs on the upper levels were too narrow, and that it could have proved dangerous once the stairwell became crowded.

1906 crowds

Crowds of spectators gather underneath the Eiffel Tower to watch the athletes run

Far less people signed up for the second edition than had attended the debut race. In 1905, 300 people had signed up, with 283 making it to the start line. This time around, 200 people signed up but only 140 (some reports say 150) eventually lined up to race.

Although there were fewer people in attendance, the quality of athletes was stronger. Back to defend his title was Eugene Forestier, the cyclist who had won the race in 1905 in a time of 3:12.80.

Joining him were a host of ‘champions’, although newspaper reports fail to specify exactly what they had won. But, further research has revealed at least some of the accomplishments of a few of those in attendance.

Among those listed as ‘champions of France’ were Eugene Neveu (a top long-distance runner, up to marathon distance) – L. Orphée (a cyclist), L. Mosnier and E. Fantou.

According to a report in La Liberté, the ‘Belgian champion’ Verstraete was also there. We were unable to find records relating to that name, but a François Verstraeten was a top level cyclist at the time, who had won the Paris to Ostend race in 1906 and went on to become the Belgian Road Champion in 1907 and 1908. It may be him they were referring to.

Louis Bouchard, billed as ‘champion of Paris’ was there, too. A year earlier, he had been the French record holder for the 10,000m with a time of 33:14, but that record had since been eclipsed by his great rival, Gaston Ragueneau.

Bouchard has finished second behind Ragueneau at the French Cross Country Championship in 1905 and 1906.

louis bouchard

Louis Bouchard (l) and Gaston Ragueneau race for the finish line at the Challenge de La Nézière in 1905

Louis bouchard 2

Louis Bouchard (41) in the lead (ahead of Ragueneau) at the Paris Cross Country Championship, 1905

Other runners and cyclists singled out for mention in the newspapers were Louis Prévôt, L. Mephisto, E. Figniez, Tonnin and Piel. Although some of these names pop up in race records from around the time, it’s been difficult to find firm details on any of these men.

L.Orphee 1905

Champion cyclist, L. Orphée

The racers were split into different waves depending on which federation or category they belonged to. Category winners would receive a gold-plated medal, while second place would take home ‘an artistic medal’.

In the women’s wave, Mme. Baube was the only competitor to finish (or possibly even start) and won by default. She climbed the 739 steps in 7:44 (or 7:26 according to one report).

Mme Baube 1906

Mme. Baube, winner of the women’s division at the 1906 Eiffel Tower stair climb

Finishing in around the same time as Mme. Baube was a Mr. Wachoru, who climbed all the steps in 7:37. The key difference being he did it while carrying a 50kg sack on his back.

1906 50kg bag climb

Wachoru

In the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques wave, L. Frederick clocked 3:25 to win bragging rights among his fellow federation members. He was followed by Agogué in 3:43 and Ceroni in 3:50.

All eyes were on the wave of runners from the Union Vélocipédique de France, as among them was the 1905 winner, Eugene Forestier.

Unfortunately for Forestier, he was unable to repeat his triumph and had to settle for second place in his wave. Thiebaut finished in 3:18.40 and Forestier in 3:19.40. In third place was Chenot in 4:01.

1906 Thiebaut

Thiebaut on his way to winning his wave

Next up were athletes from La Fédération cycliste et athlétique de France (FCAF). Fastest among them was Peuvrel, who clocked 3:56.20.

In the Indépendants category, a strong performance from J. Bielen saw him go into the overall lead, ahead of Thiebaut, with a time of 3:18.20. G. Lepage followed in 3:36.20, just ahead of Goulet in 3:37.60.

Apparently Bielen’s father was one of the people who painted the Eiffel Tower after the completion of its construction in 1889.

1906 J Bielen

J. Bielen finished in 3:18.20

1906 eiffel tower race

J. Bielen poses for a photo

With Forestier failing to clock the fastest time, he had to stand by and see if anyone in the Professionnels category might take the title ahead of Bielen.

Three members of the Club des Sports – L. Prévôt , L. Mephisto and E. Neveu – all finished ahead of Bielen and beat the previous course record.

1906 Eiffel tower race 2

Orphée, Neveu and Mephisto (l-r) on the stairs of the Eiffel Tower

1906 climbers

Club des Sports: Orphée, Mephisto and Neveu (front to back) pose for a photo (although it seems unusual that it’s not Prévôt alongside Neveu and Mephisto, the original caption says it’s Orphée)

Louis Prévôt finished in 3:12.40, beating the existing record by less than half a second. L. Mephisto then smashed that time when he reached the top in 3:04.40.

But overall victory went to the long-distance runner, Eugene Neveu. He won by the narrowest of margins with a time of 3:04 flat.

1906 Neveu winner

Eugene Neveu, winner of the Eiffel Tower stair climb 1906

‘Neveu’s time of 3:04 is simply wonderful, as it beats Forestier’s record by 8 seconds. We saw how much effort the victor had to produce to accomplish such a feat’, wrote one reporter.

Although 140-150 competitors lined up at the start, it was reported that only 93 completed the course. ‘A magnificent average’, according to one newspaper, ‘if one thinks of the effort that must be made to climb 730 steps in one go.’

If only they knew what the future held.

Championnat de la Tour Eiffel 1906 results (top six):

  • E. Neveu – 3:04
  • L. Mephisto – 3:04.40
  • L. Prévôt – 3:12.40
  • J. Bielen – 3:18.20
  • Thiebaut – 3:18.40
  • E. Forestier – 3:19.40

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