Jasmina Klančnik will return to Zalec, Slovenia for the third edition of Juriš na Hmezad on Saturday to try and reclaim the title she won in 2018.

The Slovenian athlete took sixth place last year as Petra Pogačar came out on top at what is one of the more unique races on the tower running circuit.

Competitors must run up 265 steps to the top of the Hmezad building in Zalec all while carrying an awkward five-kilogram bag of hops on their backs.

The Hmezad building in Zalec

Pogačar set a new record of 1:34 last year, taking two seconds off the 1:36 best that Klancnik clocked in 2018.

It should be an exciting event on the weekend as the Slovenians battle it out in what will be the last stair race to go ahead before a two week break of no races.

Athletes have to run up 265 stairs with one of these awkward sacks on their backs

Check out some of the action from the 2018 event in the video below and be sure to check us out on Facebook or Instagram for the results on the weekend.

It was third time lucky for Ondřej Tesař on Saturday as he finally finished on top of the podium at the Krnovsky Run Up.

Tesař had finished third at the event in 2018 and 2019, but came out victorious on Saturday following a day of close battles with Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec.

It was the fourth edition of the 218-step stair race at Cvilinske schody in Krnov, Czech Republic.

The unique and exciting race format began with a qualifier to find the fastest 16 men and women. This was followed by quarters, semis and a grand final to determine the overall winners.

Tesař got his campaign off to an impressive start, clocking 58:37 in the qualifier to finish second fastest. He was just behind one of his predicted rivals and fellow Czech, Pavel Holec.

Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec, who was making his debut at the event, took it a little easier in the qualifiers as he got a feel for the course. He clocked 1:07.12 to qualify as the seventh fastest male.

Quarter-final showdowns

The action picked up in the next round when Mrowiec and Tesař were paired off against each other in the second quarter-final.

Mrowiec finished narrowly ahead of his Czech rival, with both men advancing to the semis.

In the fourth quarter-final, Jan Keclík and Petr Lisník had to push hard to secure their spot in the semis, with both men clocking sub one-minute times.

Pavel Holec won his quarter-final by a comfortable three-second margin to advance as one of the final eight men.

Holec fastest in the semi-finals

Holec stepped things up again in the first semi-final, winning in 1:00.24. He was followed by Lisník who qualified for the final by the narrowest of margins, reaching the top of the stairs just over half a second faster than the hometown favourite Luděk Slonina.

In the second semi, Mrowiec was once again battling it out with Tesař.

As he had in the quarter-final, the Pole reached the top of the 218 steps shortly before Tesař, clocking 1:05.17 to the Czech’s 1:07.58.

Everything was set up for a fantastic final sprint between three of the pre-race favourites.

The finalists: Pavel Holec, Ondřej Tesař, Petr Lisník and Kacper Mrowiec (all images courtesy of Cvilinske Schody)
Tesař saves the best for last

Mrowiec (#141) blasted off in the final, taking a narrow lead early on.

Kacper Mrowiec (#141) gets out in front early on in the final race

But Tesař kept him within touching distance before pushing ahead towards the end.

The video below shows you just how close the end of the brilliant final race was.

Tesař took victory with a time of 58:74, followed by Mrowiec in 59:91 and Pavel Holec in 1:00.63. Petr Lisník was a little further back, finishing in 1:04.36.

Kacper Mrowiec got back to winning ways last weekend at the Świdnicki Bieg na Wieżę Ratuszową (Swidnica Run to the Town Hall Tower) in Poland.

It was the seventh edition of the race, which begins with a loop around Swidnica market square (approx. 400m), followed by a sprint up 222 stairs to the top of the town hall tower.

Mrowiec completed the event in 1:57, edging out the 2018 winner Bartłomiej Wojsław who finished in 1:59.

2017 and 2019 champion Mateusz Zalewski (2:05) was kept off the podium by Konrad Dzierżonowski (2:04).

The market square and tower in Swidnica, Poland

In the women’s division, Katarzyna Budziszewska smashed the course record by 10 seconds with her 2:18 finish.

Kamila Chomanicova and Christof Grossegger were winners at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run in Austria on Friday.

Slovakia’s Chomanicova managed to edge out two-time winner and course record holder Veronika Windisch to hold on for a well-earned victory.

Chomanicova reached the top of the tower in 2:43.11 with Austrian Windisch clocking 2:49.77.

Barbara Bischof (2:53.43) was the only other woman to finish under the three-minute mark.

Chomanicova wins the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run 2020

It was the third edition of the challenging event that sees runners set off up a 180m incline before entering the Pyramidenkogel Tower and scaling its 441 steps.

The win was the second in six days for the fast-improving Chomanicova, following her sprint victory in Levoca the previous Saturday.

The Slovakian star has been chopping away at her times year-on-year at the Pyramidenkogel: 3:02 in 2018, 2:47 in 2019 and 2:43 in 2020.

“I was aiming for the podium, and also wanted to improve my time from last year”, said Chomanicova. “I knew that Veronika wasn’t in the best shape, so that was the chance to do my best and to be the fastest woman.”

Chomanicova has decided to defer her place at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, so will not compete at the rescheduled event in Paris at the end of the month.

She may next compete at the 218-step Krnovsky Run Up in the Czech Republic next weekend (19 September).

Third time lucky for Grossegger

After finishing second in 2018 and 2019, Christof Grossegger finally took first place at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run with a commanding run on Friday.

Grossegger clocked a personal best of 2:04.68 to finish a comfortable six seconds ahead of fellow Austrian Alexander Brandner-Egger who completed the course in 2:10.86.

Slovenia’s Matjaz Miklosa took third in 2:14.31, with Pavel Holec (2:16.78) and Kacper Mrowiec (2:17.04) rounding out the top five.

“Pyramidenkogel is always a tough race”, said Grossegger, “because the first approximately 180m are just a normal asphalt street – and you have to hit already really fast – otherwise there’s no chance to gain a good time.

“This is so untypical for a stair race. You don’t have any rhythm from the start.

“The last four levels were just blown up. My legs were completely destroyed.”

Pyramidenkogel Tower Run 2020 results

Kacper Mrowiec and Christof Grossegger will be among the top tower runners racing at the Pryramidenkogel Tower on 11 September.

Back for its third edition, the race at the distinctive 441-stair tower will be the first in Austria since pandemic-related restrictions were eased.

With the winners from the previous events, Tomas Celko (2018) and Jakob Meyer (2019), not racing, the door is open for the Austrian Grossegger to finally take first place.

Grossegger finished second at the event in 2018 and 2019, and is one of only four men to have run the course in under 2:10.

It will be his first race since lockdown restrictions were eased and he has played down his chances of going as fast as his previous two efforts, telling Tower Running UK:

“I didn’t do that much special stair running training this year. After the cancellation of the Eiffel Tower run at the beginning of March, I just did sports for fun. Did a lot of mountain biking – really a lot! I’ve tried to switch back to running the last three weeks

“This year’s edition of Pyramidenkogel for me is just for fun! No special goal – just enjoy racing – and go full speed up.”

Christof Grossegger diving for the finish at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run 2019

Among Grossegger’s rivals will be Kacper Mrowiec, who will be making his debut.

The Polish newcomer is heading into the event race ready, having had two sprint races on the stairs in the past three weeks – in Warsaw, Poland and last weekend in Levoca, Slovakia.

He finished fourth in both, so will be eager to get a podium finish under his belt.

Favouring the longer courses, the additional step count plus an uphill pre-run into the tower should suit Mrowiec.

“I’m feeling better than before Leicester in March [Mrowiec took second at LOROS Tower Run],” he told us. “Training looks better, so I’ve got a hope for a high place. This distance will be better for me than my last two tower runs.”

Another Austrian athlete to keep an eye out for is Markus Karlin who took a surprising third place at last year’s event, with a 2:11.08 finish.

Expect Karlin to be firmly back in the mix for an even higher finish this time around.

After 2019’s star-studded competition, the hope was for a similar level of competition this year. Unfortunately, many of the big names on the start list will no longer be racing.

Mrowiec’s compatriot Mateusz Marunowski (4th in 2019) is now not expected to attend, despite being named on the start list. Likewise, the UK’s Laurence Ball has pulled out of the race. Stefan Stefina from Slovakia (5th in 2019) is also unlikely to compete.

Check out this excellent video from last year’s event:

Kamila Chomaničová set a new course record on the stairs of St James’ Basilica in Levoca as she repeated her victory from last year.

The Slovakian clocked 1:05.68 as she ran up 216 stairs to the top of the church tower.

In doing so, Chomaničová took over four seconds off the winning time she set at last year’s inaugural event.

In the men’s division, Marek Šoltés also defended the crown he secured in 2019 with a record-breaking run.

Šoltés set a new fastest time of 53.82, eclipsing his previous best of 55.21.

The Slovakian needed to be quick, as his compatriot Stefan Stefina came within touching distance with a 55.36 finish.

Jozef Gura made it an all-Slovak podium, while Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec was fourth.

Beh na vežu 2020 results

Soh Wai Ching aims to set a new world record in November when he takes on the challenge of achieving the greatest vertical height stair climbing in one hour.

The Asian No 1 from Malaysia will target the record of 1.227 km set by Spain’s David Robles Tapia in 2019.

Wai Ching, who is currently training for the rescheduled La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris (30 September), is yet to officially announce the building he will make his world record attempt in.

“I’m still looking for an iconic building. I wish to do it in Petronas Twin Towers or Four Seasons Place KL, but I need to inspect the stairs first before officially announcing the building. The barriers are that I need to convince the building owner or the management to allow me to use it as a venue for this Guinness World Record attempt.”

Petronas Twin Towers where Soh Wai Ching hopes to attempt his world record

“Me and my team have met the Four Seasons Place KL General Manager. They agree but they are currently arranging another round of meetings to discuss with property owners, as the building comprises hotels, apartments and shopping malls. Also my friend is helping to connect us with a representative from Petronas Twin Towers.

“Other than that, I’m currently looking at other hotels like WKL Hotel and new residences like Star Residences KLCC and hope to be able to schedule a meet up with the person in charge and convince them to allow me to use the stairs and the lift for just an hour to achieve this GWR.”

Wai Ching hopes to clock 1.3km of vertical ascent during his one-hour climb, in order to claim the record from Robles Tapia.

David Robles Tapia set the one-hour world record in 2019

The 25-year old founding President of Malaysia Towerrunning Association

“I want to inspire sportsmen, sportswomen and youths in Malaysia to chase their dreams. “Dream Big, Believe It, Plan It, Execute It”. Even though we all are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, there won’t be any competitive races, we can still do something that we believe we can, and do it!

“I strongly believe that one must have a strong desire to pursue their dreams no matter under what circumstances. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort and with good planning, you will be able to achieve it for sure.”

Soh Wai Ching plans to make his Guinness World Record attempt on GWR Day, 18 November 2020.

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Suzy Walsham recently sat down for a chat with Ian Deeth and Johnny Tieu from the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast and it’s an excellent discussion that’s well worth your time listening to.

In it Suzy discusses her athletics career from child star to Commonwealth Games, her transition to tower running in late 2006, her love of training, her Red Bull 400 experiences and plenty more.

Suzy’s given a few print and podcast interviews before, but the Unlocking Athletic Potential crew do a great job of digging a bit deeper into her career and training, so there are definitely things in this interview you won’t have heard before.

There’s no fluff in the chat and it helps that the knowledgeable interviewers are already well familiar with the sport of tower running and know their stuff when it comes to fitness and training. It makes for a really informed and interesting discussion.

You can listen to the whole conversation on the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast.

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PAST building warsaw

The Polish tower running season gets back underway tomorrow (Saturday 22 August) with a highly-anticipated sprint clash at the PAST building in Warsaw involving some of the country’s best stair runners.

It’s the seventh edition of ‘The Conquest Run’, which is held as part of commemoration events to remember the heroes of the Polish resistance that took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

At just nine floors, the race is one of the shortest tower runs in the world. The course record is a mere 34 seconds.

The event begins with a qualifying round, after which the top 10 fastest men and women compete in a final round to determine the winner.

Two-time winner (2017-18) and course record holder Adrian Bednarski will be racing. He’s never finished lower than second place in the four times he’s competed at PAST, so will be among the key men to watch on Saturday.

Adrian Bednarski towerrunning

Adrian Bednarski celebrates his win at the Reichenbacher Treppenlauf in 2019

Bednarski is a sprint specialist with multiple short-course wins under his belt. These include three wins at the 180-step Senftenberger See Turmlauf, plus victory in 2019 at the 190-step Reichenbacher Treppenlauf, both in Germany.

Expect to see Bednarksi back on the podium again.

Among those looking to defeat Bednarski will be one of the emerging stars of Polish tower running, Kacper Mrowiec, who will be making his debut at the race.

Mrowiec took an impressive second at the 351-step LOROS Tower Run in Leicester back in March, so it will be interesting to see if he’s been able to maintain tower running form and fitness during the lockdown despite limited access to stairs.

‘It’s the shortest tower run race I will have ever run’, said Mrowiec. ‘I feel my preparation is really good, but because of the short distance, just 9 floors, it’s not sure that the winner will be a tower runner.’

‘The winner could be a sprinter from track like Daniel Żochowski, who last time ran 15:03 for 5km and will take part in this competition. In a longer race – e.g 20 or 30 floors – probably I and Mateusz Marunowski should fight for the win, but the short distance makes the situation less obvious.’

‘Last time I competed with Matuesz on Oliva Star in Gdańsk when he won by just 0.15s on 34 floors! Before it, at Rondo 1, he beat me with an advantage of only 0.72s. I hope that tomorrow will be my first victory against him.’

‘After this race I will start preparing for autumn starts – stairs and track. I hope so that Bieg Zdobycia Past-y wont be my only tower run race – I have plans to race at Pyramidekogel [in Austria] and in Cologne.’

Another debutant hoping to be in among the podium finishers is Mateusz Marunowski.

The firefighter from Jaworzno should be a familiar name to tower running fans. He has achieved multiple wins and podium placings over the last few years, including back-to-back wins at the competitive SkyRun Munster in Germany (2017-2018), as well as taking second behind Piotr Lobodzinski at the Intercontinental Tower Run in Warsaw last September.

Mateusz-Marunowski

Mateusz Marunowski

Marunowski’s pedigree over slightly longer courses is well established, but how he will fare in a flat out sprint is yet to be seen.

Another name you can expect to see in the mix on Saturday is Daniel Koszykowski.

Seventh in the Polish championships last year and third behind Lobodzinski and Marunowski at the Intercontinental Tower Run, Koszykowski is an emerging talent.

The super-short race distance levels things out massively, so expect Koszykowski to launch a more formidable challenge than he might over a longer race.

He gave an interview back in March to Telewizja Echo24 (in Polish), which you can watch below. A written interview in English is available here.

2019 champion Rafal Hazan is not expected to be in attendance (although may be a late entry).

It’s an exciting line up and guranteed to be the most competitive race since tower running started back up again earlier this month.

You can follow the results of Bieg Zdobycia PAST-y as they come in via this link.

Bieg Zdobycia PAST-y winners (men)

2014  Hubert Kulik 34:83

2015 Rafał Krzeszewski 36:47

2016  Rafał Krzeszewski 38:00

2017 Adrian Bednarski 37:78

2018 Adrian Bednarski 34:65 (course record)

2019 Rafał  Hazan 36:24

As lockdown restrictions start to ease in some countries, we’re finally beginning to see tower running emerge out of its forced hiatus.

With the back end of 2020 packed full of scheduled international races, there’s still lots to (potentially) look forward to.

Here’s the news from all the post-lockdown races that have happened so far.

Europe
Wildbad345 Treppenlauf, Germany

With racing having ground to a halt globally, it was the Germans who got things moving again back in June with the Wildbad345 outdoor event in Rothenberg.

The top end of the typical route was out of bounds due to ongoing restrictions, so athletes took on 310 steps instead of the usual 345.

Some big names were in attendance, including reigning German tower running champion Christian Riedl, two-time ESBRU champion Rudy Reitberger and Towerrunning Germany’s Lars Migge.

Wildbad345 Treppenlauf2020 (2)

A runner sets off at the Wildbad345 Treppenlauf in June, 2020 (image: www.joergbehrendt.de/)

It was Riedl who took the spoils, completing the outdoor course in 1:20. He was followed by Jürgen Schmidt in 1:23, with Lars Migge taking third in 1:25.

Linda Schmid was the fastest woman in 2:13. Second was Karina Schmidt (2:17) and Gertrud Blumenschein (2:20) took third.

See the full Wildbad345 Treppenlauf 2020 race results.

Tallinn TV Tower Run, Estonia

At the start of August the Estonian capital Tallinn hosted the first indoor stair race to take place for months, with the 870-step TV Tower serving as venue.

Tallinn TV Tower stair climb 2020

Tallinn TV Tower

In the men’s race the podium was an all Estonian affair.

Rimo Timm came out victorious with a finishing time of 4:43.9. For the second year in a row, the 2018 champion Rauno Tiits was pushed into second as he finished in 4:46.5. Tiits’ teammate Lauri Ulm took third in 5:00, taking a massive nine seconds off his time from 2019.

The women’s division saw an even closer battle for top spot as international athletes competed against local talent.

The experienced Estonian tower runner Piret Põldsaar repeated the 5:55 that earned her third place at the event in 2019. That was fast enough to earn top spot this time around…just.

Finnish track athlete Linnea Harala pushed Põldsaar hard, reaching the top of the tower in 5:56.1.

Slovakia’s Kamila Chomanicova took third in 6:00.3.

Tallinn TV Tower Run 2020 results.

Asia
Hangzhou International Towerrunning Race, China

The popular Chinese tower running circuit got back up and running on August 8th at Raffles City Tower in Hangzhou.

Raffles City Tower

Le Qinghua (CHN) was the fastest woman up the 1,647 stairs, taking a comfortable victory in 11:11.

Zhang Mufang (CHN) was next over the line finishing a split-second ahead of Christy Kalksma (NZL), with both women clocking in at 11:46.

The top end of the men’s event was devoid of close battles, with the podium finishers well spread out.

The all-Chinese top three was Wang Guolong (8:51), Zang Yunhai (9:23) and Chen Jianfeng (9:39).

Hangzhou International Towerrunning Race 2020 men

So we are officially back up and running people.

The next scheduled race is set for 6th September in Levoca, Slovakia. It looks like some races in the USA may be going ahead next month, too.

Then on 30th September the rescheduled La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel will take place.

Lots to look forward to. It’s good to be back.

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David Allard ESBRU

Getting to race up the stairs of the Empire State Building just once is a dream for most tower runners. For many it’s a dream that continues to elude them as they fail year after year to secure a coveted place at the world’s longest-running stair race. But for one man it’s become a real-life recurring dream that’s been going for more than a quarter of a century.

When you look back through the long and eventful history of the Empire State Building Run-Up you’d be forgiven for skimming over the event in 1994.

Ran on a shortened course of 80 floors, the men’s race was won by debutant Darrin Eisman (USA), while fellow first-time runner Belinda Soszyn (AUS) took the first of her eventual three victories in New York.

With all the close battles, intense rivalries and record-setting runs that came before and after, 1994 was, in comparison, fairly unexciting.

But it was certainly far from unexciting for David Allard, the man who currently holds the record for the most ESBRU appearances. This was the year he made his debut at the famous Manhattan tower.

1994 WINNERS BEST

Darrin Eisman and Belinda Soszyn, winners of the 1994 ESBRU

From novice to veteran

David Allard had only a couple of stair races under his belt when he took part in the Empire State Building Run-Up for the first time in his mid-40s.

In fact he hadn’t run at all until a few years before.

‘I didn’t start running until my daughter had joined the high school cross country team,’ he said. ‘I had never run a step in my life until then.’

Despite his lack of experience, the tower running novice from Great Barrington, MA, clocked a respectable 14:51 on the shortened course in 1994.

A year later he was back to take on the full course of 86 floors/1,576 steps, where he set his personal best of 16:43.

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission

‘It was a simple race at first, with a mass start that begins in the lobby,’ Allard told the Berkshire Eagle back in 2013. ‘We all had to hit this tiny door and then begin our ascent. But a lot of people tried to go too hard, too fast and many ended up holding their chests, slumped to the side of the stairwell by the eighth floor. For me, I set a steady pace and held it.’

‘Years ago you could only pass on the left,’ Allard recalled to the Brattleboro Reformer last year, ‘so you have seven stairs to pass a guy before a landing. Someone hits the landing and just has to turn so it was impossible to pass.’

The elite waves still begin with a manic mass start, but runners in the general wave now set off five seconds apart. With less crowding and mania in the stairwell, it’s a bit easier for Allard to settle into his runs and focus on his technique.

With 26 ESBRU appearances to his name, David Allard perhaps knows the stairs and the race better than almost anyone. So first time tower runners could do worse than listen to some of his advice.

‘It’s a breathing race, not a leg race,’ says Allard. ‘It’s all about holding a steady breathing pattern and using the handrails to carry your momentum.’

‘You bring yourself right to the edge of a heart attack, and you just hold it. The Empire State Building [Run-Up] is not a legs race, it’s a lungs race. The trick with the race is to start at the pace you’re going to maintain.’

David Allard 2008 ESBRU

David Allard at the 2008 Empire State Building Run-Up

His top five tips?

‘(1) Don’t go out too fast; (2) Take the stairs two at a time; (3) Use the hand rails; (4) When someone wants to pass you in the stairway, get out of the way; and (5) Smile at the end.’

The payoff at the top will make all your hard work worthwhile, Allard promises.

‘It’s the most beautiful ending to a race because you have to run one last lap around the observation tower and you get to see all of New York ahead of you. It’s so exhilarating, there’s no other feeling like that.’

TV presenter Kelly Ripa took part in the race in 2013 and she got to meet David Allard before she set off on her run.

You can see their brief exchange at the Empire State Building in the video below (starts at 1:40).

Allard’s rivals for The Streak

‘The streak is a really strange thing because it has zero value,’ says Allard. ‘Yet to the person that holds the streak it has enormous value.’

Hot on his heels for the record for most appearances at the Empire State Building Run-Up is a well-known tower runner from New York, Stephen Marsalese.

Marsalese made his debut at the Empire State Building in 1996 and has competed in every race there since, bringing his current number of appearances to 24.

With 15 or so years age difference between the two men, it’s likely the younger Marsalese (if he continues to be invited to the the ESBRU) will eventually outlast Allard.

David Allard and Stephen Marsalese

David Allard and Stephen Marsalese

But the evergreen, four-time winner Cindy Harris (nee Moll), who currently has 22 appearances to her name and is still competing at the very top, could well pass both men out in the coming years.

But Allard has no plans to call time on his fantastic run at the ESBRU any time soon.

‘I hope to do this into my nineties—I’ll crawl up the stairs if I have to’, he told TimeOut.

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VWC 2020

The first half of the 2020 tower running season has been completely halted by coronavirus restrictions and there hasn’t been a tower race anywhere since mid-March. Dozens of races, including big events such as the Empire State Building Run-Up and the TWA World Championship race at Taipei 101, have been postponed or cancelled outright. But what about the nine races that form the Vertical World Circuit?

Read on to find out about the postponements and new dates for the races in the Vertical World Circuit 2020.

Allianz Vertical Run – Allianz Tower, Milan, Italy

The race up the 1,027-step Allianz Tower was scheduled for 19 April, but even though the organisers waited until the end of March to officially announce its postponement, it was clear very early on in the ongoing coronavirus situation that this event wasn’t going to happen as planned.

Allianz Tower Run 2020

The organisers are hoping to reschedule within 2020 so it can still slot into this year’s Vertical World Circuit. There’s no fixed date yet.

You can keep up to date with announcements on the Allianz Vertical Run Facebook page.

VertiGo – Tour First, Paris, France

Initially scheduled as the second race in the VWC 2020 to take place on May 14, VertiGO was rescheduled early on.

However the organisers have now made the decision to cancel the event.

Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb – One World Trade Center, New York, USA

world-trade-center

One World Trade Center in New York City

The tallest tower on the VWC, One World Trade Center was set to host a race on 14 June. With New York hit particularly hard by COVID-19, it was inevitable that this race wouldn’t be happening on the set date.

The race has now been shifted to Sunday 22 November.

The T2T NYC Tower Climb site or the general Tunnel to Towers FB page are the best places to check for updates on this race.

The Broadgate Tower Run Up – London, UK

The most competitive race on the UK tower running calendar, the Broadgate Tower Run Up was set to take place on 5 July.

The organisers then shifted the race to Sunday 27 September.

Unfortunately, due to the remaining uncertainty surrounding sporting events, they’ve now taken the decision to cancel the 2020 edition.

We look forward to its return in 2021.

The remaining races

The five remaining races in the VWC originally scheduled for the second half of 2020 are all still hoping to go ahead as planned:

  1. Race to Shanghai IFC, Two Shanghai International Finance Centre – Shanghai, China (18 October)
  2. Beijing Vertical Run, China World Summit Wing – Beijing, China CANCELLED
  3. Dubai Holding SkyRun, Jumeirah Emirates Tower – Dubai, UAE (6 November)
  4. Harukas Skyrun, Abeno Harukas – Osaka, Japan (15 November)
  5. Race to Hong Kong ICC, International Commerce Centre – Hong Kong (6 December)

The last four months of 2020 will be action packed if all these races go ahead as planned. The travel schedule for the world’s top tower runners hoping to take part will also be hectic. Here’s hoping all the top athletes can compete at their best.

ESBRU 2010

In 2010, defending champion Thomas Dold was going for a record-equaling fifth win. New and familiar faces were lined up in the lobby aiming to put a stop to the German juggernaut. In the women’s division, three-time champ Suzy Walsham was sitting out the race while pregnant. Could Cindy Harris now finally claim a fifth title? Or would a new champion emerge?

If you missed the first installment of this series on the history of the Empire State Building Run-Up covering 1978-1980, you can read it here. Or jump back to 1981-19831984-19871988-19901991-19931994-19971998199920002001200220032004200520062007, 2008 or 2009 instead.

Otherwise read on for the next installment in the series and find out what happened at the Empire State Building Run-Up in 2010.

The first Vertical World Circuit

With his fourth ESBRU title in the bag, Thomas Dold set about the rest of the 2009 season eager to secure more accolades.

His win in New York in February had been the first race in the newly launched Vertical World Circuit (VWC), a stair climbing series consisting of eight events across four continents: Empire State Building Run-Up (New York), Ramada Tower Run (Basel), Pirelli Tower Vertical Sprint (Milan), Taipei 101 Run-Up, SkyRun Berlin, Sydney Tower Run Up, Torre de Collserola Vertical (Barcelona) and the ​​Singapore Vertical Marathon. A proposed ninth race at the Donauturm in Vienna was cancelled due to building works at the tower.

Dold would dedicate the rest of the year to winning the inaugural Vertical World Circuit.

Ramada Tower Run (Basel) 2009

Less than three weeks after his ESBRU victory, 24-year old Dold was in Switzerland, ready to renew his rivalry with European tower running sprint specialist Gabriel Lombriser.

The pair had been swapping course records at the 542-step Ramada hotel in Basel since Lombriser set a new record at the second edition in 2005. Dold broke it in 2006 and Lombriser claimed it back in 2007.

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The Ramada hotel in Basel, Switzerland

Dold hadn’t attended the 2008 edition of the race, but he was back on Saturday 21 February 2009 to face off once more with his Swiss rival.

Victory eluded the German, who had to settle for second behind the record setting Lombriser, who clocked a best time of 2:41.

Dold’s finishing time was just 0.9 seconds slower.

Pirelli Tower Vertical Sprint 2009

Dold skipped the Vertical Sprint at the Pirelli Tower in Milan 10 days later.

In Dold’s absence, Italians Marco De Gasperi and Fabio Ruga battled it out for top spot.

De Gasperi already had points on the board for the VWC, having finished second to Dold at the ESBRU in February, and was looking to pick up the maximum points available in this race.

He managed it by securing the narrowest of victories, with mere centimetres separating him from Ruga at the finish line.

Fabio Ruga

Marco De Gasperi (r) wins the 2009 Pirelli Tower Vertical Sprint ahead of Fabio Ruga

Record setting run in Stuttgart

Dold was back in action on Sunday 10 May at the 850-step Fernsehturm Stuttgart (TV Tower). He had won every edition of the race since it began in 2006.

Christian Riedl, Tomas Celko and Marcus Zahlbruckner were among the men looking to stop Dold’s winning run.

But the three-time champ was unstoppable as he set a new course record of 4:05.

Taipei 101 Run-Up 2009

The following weekend, Thomas Dold waited in the lobby of Taipei 101 alongside De Gasperi and Ruga. The experienced Fu-Cai Chen, third at the 2007 and 2008 Taipei 101 Run-Ups and fifth at the 2008 ESBRU, was with them, as was Pedro Ribeiro.

With a first and a second-place finish apiece leaving them level so far in the Vertical World Circuit standings, the pressure was on Dold and De Gasperi to win and create a bit of distance from the other.

The climate in Taipei that May was oppressively humid and created tough conditions inside the stairwell that put additional strain on the athletes.

Dold set off first at 8am and was followed 20 seconds later by De Gasperi.

The German maintained the distance from his Italian rival for around 40 floors, before De Gasperi began to close the gap.

‘Towards the 60th floor, I had gotten very close to Dold’, recalled De Gasperi shortly after the race, ‘so much so that I could hear his breathless breathing a few stairs above me. At that point, however, the effort began to take over.’

By the time they reached the top De Gasperi had managed to cut the gap again slightly but it wasn’t enough to take victory.

Dold clocked 11:05 to take the win, while De Gasperi had to settle for second with his 11:15 finish.

Thomas Dold Taipei 2009 finish

Thomas Dold 2009 Taipei 101 Run Up

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An exhausted Thomas Dold is helped from the finish line at the 2009 Taipei 101 Run-Up

The dominance continues

A week later, Dold was back racing in Germany. It was his third top-level race in 14 days. This time the venue was the Messeturm in Frankfurt.

It was the third edition of the race at the tower, which saw runners race up 1,344 steps to the 61st floor. Dold’s long-time rival, 26-year old Matthias Jahn, had won the first two editions of the race and was back in Frankfurt looking for a third straight win.

Dold 2009

Dold waiting to run in Frankfurt

But Dold was in dominant form. He set a new course record of 6:36 to take the honours ahead of Jahn, who reached the top in 6:54.

Thomas Dold Messeturm Frankfurt 2009

Thomas Dold nears the finish on his way to victory at the Messeturm Frankfurt in 2009

Dold messeturm 2009 winner

Thomas Dold celebrates his win at the Messeturm in Frankfurt

Eight days later, on Whit Monday 1 June, Dold raced for the fourth time in a little over three weeks. Once more he was squaring off against emerging European tower running stars Tomas Celko and Christian Riedl.

The 770 steps of the Park Inn Berlin-Alexanderplatz were the proving ground this time.

Dold had won the three previous editions of the race and was a favourite to make it four in a row.

He did just that, taking almost five seconds off his previous best time to set a new course record of 3:09.

In a little over 21 days, Thomas Dold had fully established himself as a practically invincible force in the world of tower running. In four races, he had set three course records and beaten many of the top competitors in the world in the process.

Dold took a break from racing in June and July and prepared for more Vertical World Circuit races in the back end of the year.

Sydney Tower Run-Up 2009

Sydney Tower Run-up winners

The next race in the series was the Sydney Tower Run-Up on Friday 21 August.

This event had been churning out Empire State Building Run-Up champions since the late 1980s. The offer of a trip to New York with race entry to the ESBRU had proven a lucrative draw for top Australian athletes.

Multi-time ESBRU winners, Geoff Case, Belinda Soszyn and Paul Crake were just some of the brilliant tower runners to emerge victorious in Sydney over the years.

Dold was making his debut at the 1,504-step tower, where A$7,500 were up for grabs for the winner. He would be going up against a familiar challenger in the form of Scott McTaggart.

McTaggart had won the Sydney Tower Run-Up for the past three years. He’d also finished fourth at the ESBRU in 2008 and 2009, so Dold knew who he was.

Also in attendance were former Australian mountain running champion Daniel Green, an old rival of Paul Crake, and 2004 Sydney Tower Run-Up winner Jeremey Horne.

Even with such a strong field of experienced competitors, Dold was tipped to win. But there was a dark horse in the line up who, although he was making his stair running debut, was anticipated to mount the most serious challenge to the German star.

It was the newly crowned Australian mountain running champion, Mark Bourne.

Dold and Bourne 2009 Sydney

Mark Bourne, Jim White, Thomas Dold and Scott McTaggart at the 2009 Sydney Tower Run-Up

But Dold secured the win with a time of 7:04. Newcomer Mark Bourne followed in 7:26 and Scott McTaggart took third spot in 7:35.

Dold had only arrived in Sydney on Tuesday, three days before the race, and just three hours after winning he was on a plane heading back to Germany.

Thomas Dold Sydney Tower Run Up winner 2009

Four weeks later, Dold set a new backwards running world record. Already a multi-world record holder in the discipline, he cut 23 seconds off his own 1,500m record to set a new best time of 5:01.

Two race-free months followed before Dold headed to Singapore for the finale of the Vertical World Circuit at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon on Sunday 22 November.

Singapore Vertical Marathon – the Vertical World Circuit finale

With an unassailable lead in the VWC, Dold wasn’t joined in Singapore by any of his big rivals.

Three-time winner Pedro Ribeiro and Poland’s Tomasz Klisz were well-established stair runners, but none were in the league of Dold.

Dold had broken the course record that had stood for nearly two decades when he won the event in 2008 in a time of 6:52. He was almost certain to win again. All eyes were on the clock to see if the German could beat his own time.

DSCN7656

Thomas Dold (r) alongside Pedro Ribeiro (12) at the start of the 2009 Swissotel Vertical Marathon

He ran clear from all his rivals, finishing almost a minute ahead of Klisz as he set a new record of 6:46.

Dold Swissotel Vertical Marathon 2009 winner

Thomas Dold on the roof of the Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore after setting a new course record

Dold Singapore 2009 winner

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Thomas Dold toasts his win alongside women’s winner Suzy Walsham

Dold left immediately for New Zealand to race at the Sky Tower Vertical Challenge in Auckland three days later. Predictably he won, setting what was widely reported as a new record time of 4:53.

Thomas Dold Sky Tower Auckland 2009

Thomas Dold nears the finish at the Sky Tower, Auckland in 2009

[Ed. note – The previous best time of 5:17 was set by Jonathan Wyatt in 1999. Paul Crake’s best time at the tower was 5:38. Wyatt and Crake had run 5:07 and 5:08 respectively in a brilliant race in 2002, but that was on a slightly shorter, altered course. Back in the early 2000s the race started with an approximately 150m pre-run into the tower. We were unable to determine if the 2009 edition started with a pre-run. But it’s hard to believe, although not inconceivable, that Dold undercut the time of two of the best tower runners of all time by 24+ seconds if he started from the same spot.]

With the first Vertical World Circuit title and a bunch of new course records in the bag, Dold headed into 2010 confident of securing a fifth Empire State Building Run-Up title.

2010 Empire State Building Run-Up

There was a notable absentee among the women lined up in the lobby of the Empire State Building on Tuesday 2 February 2010 for the 33rd edition of the Run-Up. The three-time winner from Australia Suzy Walsham, who had also won the Taipei 101 Run-Up and Singapore Vertical Marathon in 2009, was pregnant and sitting out the race.

Not since 2003 had anyone but Andrea Mayr or Suzy Walsham won the ESBRU. Finally there would be a different name in the record books.

Cindy Harris had bagged her fourth title in 2003, and since then she had finished in second place four times, as well as third and fourth in other years.

She’d retained her Bop to the Top title in Indianapolis nine days prior to the ESBRU, so was obviously in good shape. As a result, the Indianapolis veteran who had won her first ESBRU title in 1998 was on the shortlist of expected winners.

There were plenty of experienced ESBRU runners alongside Harris. One had even won it before while others had been on the podium and in the top five. But their personal records weren’t quite as good as Harris’ sub-13 minute best.

Michelle Blessing had won the ESBRU in 1995 and finished second in 1994 and third in 1996. She returned out of the blue in 2009 to finish 14th. Could she bounce back with a much better time in 2010? Blessing had also been coaching first time tower runner, but regular marathoner, Gretchen Hurlbutt. Could Blessing’s protege throw in a surprise performance of her own?

Amy Fredericks, who had finished third in 2004 and 2005 and fourth on a few other occasions, had a decent chance of getting back on the podium this year.

Stacey Creamer had finished in the top five on three previous occasions. Could she finally step onto the podium?

Caroline Gaynor was back for another shot too. A former rower at Columbia University who had turned her focus to Ironman events and other triathlon distances, Gaynor had finished fourth in 2008.

But there were some exciting debutants on the start line too.

New York-based Australian Rondi Davies was a sub-three hour marathoner and long distance open water swimmer. In 2008 she’d taken third at the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and in summer 2009 she’d won the inaugural 10-mile Kingdom Swim at Lake Memphremagog up in Vermont. A complete unknown on the stairs, but a serious athlete and one to watch.

A far more familiar and formidable name was also on the start list, Melissa Moon from New Zealand.

The 2001 and 2003 world mountain running champion (also third in 1997 and 1998) was no stranger to tower running. She’d been racing on the stairs on and off for a decade, but had never taken part in the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Among her stair running successes were wins in very competitive races at the Telekom Malaysia Towerthon at Kuala Lumpur Tower in 2000-2002. She also won the Sky Tower race in Auckland in 2001 and 2002.

2002 wyatt moon 2001kl tower

Melissa Moon and Jonathan Wyatt – winners of the KL Tower Run 2001

In 2005 she had finished second behind Andrea Mayr at the inaugural Taipei 101 Run-Up, running a solid 13:34. She took third in 2006 and fourth in 2007.

Melissa Moon Taipei 2005

Melissa Moon took second at the 2005 Taipei 101 Run-Up

Moon had been in Sydney at the same race as Thomas Dold back in August. She’d finished fourth behind winner Vanessa Haverd, former ESBRU winner Angela Leadbeatter (1999) and reigning ESBRU champion Suzy Walsham. A little over 20 seconds separated Moon and Walsham, so the Kiwi runner was evidently in good stair climbing shape coming into 2010.

She’d been training regularly on the stairs of the 28-floor Majestic Centre in Wellington, where she had told security guards that she was trying to become the first New Zealander to win the Empire State Building race.

“They bent over backward,” said Moon, ‘What do you need? We’ll give you a swipe card.’ They put supportive signs in the stairwell.”

Well prepared and well experienced, all the signs pointed toward Melissa Moon launching the most serious challenge to Cindy Harris and the other experienced ESBRU runners.

ESBRU STRETCH 2010

Caroline Gaynor (orange vest) and Melissa Moon stretch next to Cindy Harris (103) on the front row of the start line at the 2010 Empire State Building Run-Up

At the sound of the starter’s horn, ambitious debutant Kacie Fisher (#105) got out in front of everyone. A former collegiate heptathlete at Cal Poly, Fisher had found out about the race three weeks before the start and said, ‘there was no way I was gonna miss this’.

ESBRU 2010

Cindy Harris followed closest, with Melissa Moon (#102) and Gretchen Hurlbutt (far right, red vest) running together a step behind.

ESBRU WOMENS22

Kacie Fisher gets out in front, followed by Cindy Harris, Melissa Moon and Gretchen Hurlbutt (by the wall in the red vest)

2010 esbru womens

ESBRU 2010 WOMENS DOOR

Caroline Gaynor (104, high white socks), Meghan Newcomer (white visor) and Amy Fredericks (blue vest) follow in behind the leading group

The start was fairly orderly and there were no serious shoves or falls, such as had marred the start of the 2009 ESBRU when Suzy Walsham was pushed into the wall as she headed for the door.

You can see in the image below that padding had been fixed to the walls on either side of the door to the stairwell, to prevent a repeat of the smashed lip and knee Walsham received the year before.

2010 womens door

Kacie Fisher enters the doorway, followed by Harris, Moon, Hurlbutt and Fredericks

Details on what played out in the stairwell have been difficult to find. The available in-race footage (scroll to the bottom for race videos) offers little insight. Likewise, post-race interviews in newspapers are devoid of details about how the race played out.

But given the information available, it’s been possible to piece together a story that seems to make sense.

It seems that the inexperienced Fisher went out way too fast and was tracked by Harris, who was probably wary of giving an unknown runner too much of a lead early on.

At the 50th floor, Fisher later claimed she ‘tore the lining of her lung from over expansion’ and her legs gave out. The pace must have taken a massive toll on her and Harris, because the pair were passed by a number of runners in the latter stages of the race.

Before the race Gretchen Hurlbutt had said her plan was to pace herself for the first half and then see what she had left for the rest of the race. She seems to have done just that, sticking behind Melissa Moon for much of the race before being dropped in the second half.

In the second video below Moon can be seen running on her own at what seems to be somewhere between the 68th and 72nd floors. She remained completely unchallenged as she surged to the top.

Down below Gretchen Hurlbutt passed Harris and Fisher and pushed into second place. She was tracked closely by Amy Fredericks, Rondi Davies and Stacey Creamer, all battling for the podium.

Amy Fredericks remarked after the race: “Two women that I passed, they were starting to keel over and they were doing single steps.” It’s likely she is referring to Fisher and Harris.

Harris and Fisher continued to be passed by multiple runners. Cindy Harris eventually finished in 13th place in 15:13 while Fisher ended up in 20th position, crossing the line in 15:54. Bear in mind, Harris had taken third the year before in a time of 13:49. In no uncertain terms, the race was a disaster.

Kacie Fisher 2010

Kacie Fisher drops to the floor after crossing the finish line

Harris and Gaynor 2010

Cindy Harris (middle) and Caroline Gaynor (right, 14:42 – seventh place) recovering after the race

For Melissa Moon, however, it was a triumph. She ran untested in the latter stages and crossed the finish line in 13:13.

Melissa Moon 2010 finish line ESBRU

Melissa Moon ESBRU 2010

Gretchen Hurlbutt followed 40 seconds later in 13:53, while Amy Fredericks won the battle for the final podium spot with her 14:15 finish.

Rondi Davies was fourth in 14:23 and Stacey Creamer took fifth in 14:25.

Gretchen Hurlbutt ESBRU 2010

Gretchen Hurlbutt takes second place at the 2010 Empire State Building Run-Up

Overall it was one of the slowest women’s races in years. Not since 2003 had anyone run slower than 14:00 and made it onto the podium.

But Melissa Moon had run an excellent and well-paced debut race and was delighted with her win.

‘When you know the history of this building, built in 1931, years ahead of its time, it is a privilege to run here. I’ve climbed taller buildings, but here, this race has a completely different meaning. I am very proud of this victory that I will be able to write on my CV.’

The drive for five

In the 32 previous editions of the Empire State Building Run-Up, two men had managed to win five titles: Al Waquie (1983-87) and Paul Crake (1999-2003).

Thomas Dold would join that unique group if he could hold off the challenge of his competitors one more time. His closest rivals in recent years, Rickey Gates (eight seconds behind in 2008) and Marco De Gasperi (22 seconds slower in 2009), weren’t in attendance, so the race really was Dold’s to lose.

Although there was a lot of established and fast emerging talent in the field, none of them were quite at the level of Dold.

Matthias Jahn was the most likely to launch a significant challenge on his compatriot. Jahn had been on the ESBRU podium in 2007 and 2008, and had beaten Dold before in shorter races at European venues.

But Dold had seen him off by an 18-second margin at the 1,344 step Messeturm in Frankfurt a few months earlier. He typically had Jahn’s number over the longer courses.

Similarly, Dold had beaten emerging European stars Christian Riedl and Tomas Celko at races back in 2009. Riedl was making his second apperance in Manhattan, while Celko was racing for the first time. The pair were decent shouts for a top 10 or possibly top five finish, but it was unlikely they would really challenge the reigning champion.

Another strong debutant and seasoned tower runner, Omar Bekkali, would possibly be in the mix for the top five, but it was hard to see him launching a serious challenge to Dold. Likewise, excellent athletes such as Javier Santiago, Jesse Berg and Pedro Ribeiro would be expected to be among the top finishers, but they’d never posed a threat to Dold at the ESBRU or various other races around the world.

The one unknown was the impressive Matthew Byrne from Scranton, PA. A successful collegiate runner for St Joseph’s University, Byrne had won three individual Atlantic 10 Conference championships while at the college in Philadelphia.

After college, he had qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon in 2004 and 2008. He’d also represented the United States in the World Mountain Running Championships in 2008 and 2009. He’d finished ahead of fellow USA team member Rickey Gates at the 2009 Championships, so was evidently a serious prospect.

Byrne would surely have reached out to Gates for tips on the race and the course as he prepared to make his ESBRU debut. Could he shock everyone and do what Rickey Gates had come so close to doing in 2008?

Gates had been stuck a few rows back from the start on his debut in 2007. Matthew Byrne made sure he was in prime position on the front row for his first race.

You can seen him in the picture below off to the left wearing #5. Left of him in the blue vest is Christian Riedl, then heading right across the lobby there’s Trevor Folgering (#10, well out of place and should be a couple of rows back), Jesse Berg (orange vest, #8), Tomas Celko (blue shorts, #44), Matthias Jahn (#3), Thomas Dold (#1) and Javier Santiago (blue longsleeves, #7).

The first image below, and the video at the bottom, shows that Byrne actually got the best start, gaining a step on Dold who was the next quickest to react to the horn. But the American had more ground to cover to the door and by the time the runners reached it Dold, as always, was in first place. Javier Santiago was next, followed by Jahn, Byrne and Jesse Berg.

2010 ESBRU MENS

2010 MENS START ESBRU

2010 ESBRU MEN RUSH

2010 Dold in front

2010 ESBRU NEAR DOOR

With Thomas Dold at the helm, the ESBRU was becoming increasingly formulaic. Some of his winning races had been a lot closer than others, but 2010 wasn’t one of them.

Details were scant in the post-race newspaper reports, but Dold was first in the door and didn’t relinquish the lead. The rest of the pack stuck with the powerful young German for as long as they could, but his strength saw him pull away in the second half of the race.

In the first video below (@0:38) you can see Dold running alone at the 65th floor crossover as he catches up with a group of runners from the women’s race. In the second video (@1:44) he is free from the crowds and running on a clear stairwell, likely somewhere between the 68th and 72nd floors.

He reached the top in 10:16, taking a record equaling fifth ESBRU title. He collapsed somewhat theatrically to the ground just after crossing the line and stayed on his knees for a while right in front of the finish, forcing tired runners to go around him as they too crossed the finish line.

Thomas Dold 2010 ESBRU finish line

Dold exhausted

Thomas Dold falls to his knees at the finish line of the 2010 ESBRU

He was followed by fellow German Matthias Jahn who crossed the finish in 10:56 (see him in the second video below @1:53 passing debutant Shari Klarfeld late in the race). Funnily, the margin between first and second in the men’s race was exactly the same as in the women’s, 40 seconds.

Matthias Jahn ESBRU 2010

Matthias Jahn celebrates taking second place as Thomas Dold and a race steward look on

Matthew Byrne took third in 11:29, while Omar Bekkali (11:51) and Javier Santiago (11:55) completed the top five.

Byrne said he’d like to come back next year and challenge Dold again, but noted he’d have to find a different strategy.

“He was off like a dart right from the beginning,” Byrne said of the start. “He really takes his stance early. I’d have to change something.”

Matthew Byrne ESBRU 2010

Matthew Byrne recovers after taking third at the 2010 Empire State Building Run-Up

CELKO Holec RIEDL 2010

Tomas Celko, Pavel Holec, Pedro Ribeiro and Christian Riedl recovering after the race

Dold 2010 winner

Thomas Dold celebrates his fifth straight ESBRU victory

“It took me six years to get to this point, and to be here as the winner this day is quite amazing,” Dold said. “To do this race six times and get five victories – it’s unbelievable right now. And to be named along with Paul Crake as a five-time winner is a big honour.”

2010 ESBRU WINNERS

Melissa Moon and Thomas Dold – 2010 Empire State Building Run-Up winners

2010 esbru podiums

2010 ESBRU: The women’s and men’s top 3


2010 Empire State Building Run-Up results

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The 2020 edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up has finally been officially cancelled.

It comes as no surprise, of course, given the ongoing situation in New York, and globally. But race organisers NYC Runs waited until now before making an announcement about the event, which was due to take place on Tuesday 12 May.

It’s the first year since the ESBRU began in 1978 that a race up the tower won’t take place.

The 43rd edition of the event will now happen on Tuesday 11 May 2021, with all those given a place at this year’s event invited to participate next year.

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Piotr Lobodzinski recently caught up with Polish running website bieganie.pl to talk all things tower running, and it’s a fantastic read.

The candid interview covers a good range of topics that give excellent insight into the two-time tower running world champion.

Some of the highlights include:

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Check out the full article through the link below:

Piotr Lobodzinski interview with bieganie.pl

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