When the Q1 Tower was completed in 2005, it became Australia’s tallest building. Shortly before its towering observation deck was opened to the public, the building played host to a star-studded elite stair race offering $10,000 to the winner. Here’s the story of how it went down.

Measuring 322.5m tall from street to spike, the new skyscraper in Gold Coast, Queensland dwarfed 120 Collins Street in Melbourne, which had been the country’s tallest building since 1991.

With Australia’s long and rich history of stair climbing – the Rialto Run-Up in Melbourne started in 1987 and the Sydney Tower Run-Up in 1990 – it was no surprise that the idea of holding a race up Q1’s 1,821 steps was quickly pitched.

The idea for the event originated during the breakfast radio show The Cage, which was broadcast out of Brisbane by the Triple M network.

Former Australian international rugby player Greg ‘Marto’ Martin was one of the hosts and suggested a stair race be held to celebrate the opening of the Q1 observation deck. Within hours the ball was rolling on getting it organised.

Greg ‘Marto’ Martin in action against the British Lions in 1989

Richard Barker, the general manager of Austereo – the media company then operating Triple M – said: “Triple M is currently talking to Australia’s top athletes to compete in the event which may well become an annual challenge and one we hope to build nationally as comparable to the famous Empire State Building stair race in New York.”

“Based on anecdotal research, the fastest runner is expected to complete the 1,821 stair race to the observation deck in around nine minutes.”

“This compares with the usual mode of transport to be used, one of the world’s fastest elevators, which will do the journey in 43 seconds.”

Austereo and the developers of Q1, Sunland Group, really put a lot behind the event, giving it the exposure it deserved and putting up a huge prize fund to try and attract a wide range of athletic talent.

The prize money on offer was completely unrivalled in stair racing. In fact it was one of the highest paying races of any athletic discipline at the time in Australia.

The winner of the race would take home $10,000 (AUD), second place would receive $5,000 and third, $2,500.

What’s more, in a national first, The Cage breakfast shows from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne’s Triple M stations were all set to broadcast live simultaneously from Q1 to celebrate the event.

Triple M – Q1 Run to the Sun

Within a few weeks a line-up of runners was assembled, a mix of elite Australian athletes and media personalities. The selection of athletic talent was huge, with multi-time Empire State Building Run-Up champions alongside long-distance swimming champions, up-and-coming AFL players, international triathletes and emerging track and field stars.

Belinda Soszyn was a highly experienced mountain runner, triathlete and stair runner who had won the Empire State Building Run-Up three times (1994, 1996-97) and the Sydney Tower Run-Up three times (1993, 1995-96).

She’d also won the Australian mountain running championship in 1996 and represented her country at the World Mountain Running Championships.

51 year old Soszyn had hung up her tower running shoes back in the 90s, but the lure of Australia’s new tallest building had pulled her back in.

Belinda Soszyn winning the 1994 Empire State Building Run-Up

Soszyn was set to face off against Vanessa Hill, who had previously placed at the Sydney Tower and Rialto Tower runs.

Although unmentioned in pre-race reports, mountain runner Hubertien Wichers also competed. Whether she was a late replacement for Hill or Soszyn, or an additional entrant is unknown.

Radio personalities Emma Maclean and Brigitte Duclos were the only other women at the race.

Among the men set to race was young Beau Tanton, a 19-year old AFL player who at the time was playing for Broadbeach AFC on the Gold Coast. Tanton had also represented the Queensland state team a number of times.

Beau Tanton in action for Queensland during the Northern Territory and Queensland AFL Under 18 National Championships in 2004

The experienced Sydney-based tower runner Jeremey Horne had also been invited. A sub-2:30 marathoner, Horne had won the Sydney Tower Run-Up in 2004 and had finished second at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon in Singapore earlier in 2005.

Australian international cross-country skiier Andrew Mock was also there. The 23-year old had won the Rialto Run-Up earlier in the year, so was expected to be in among those chasing for top spot.

Andrew Mock winning the 2005 Rialto Run-Up

From the world of triathlon there was Chris Stanton, who was part of the Australian World Championship team, and the highly-competitive elite Drew Westbrook who had won an ITU Age Group Aquathlon World Championship event in Honolulu a couple of months prior. Ben Holland, another successful age group triathlete, was also on board.

Another athlete new to stair running was Mark Saliba, a long-distance open water swimming champion who’d finished fifth at the 25km Open Water Swimming World Championship in 2004.

Mark Saliba on his way to winning a marathon swimming race in Hong Kong in 2004

The Australian under-23 5km champion Christopher Reeves was signed up too. Fellow Brisbanite Anthony Craig was alongside him. Craig was a middle-distance track star who’d won a silver medal at the Australian University Games.

They were joined by Gold Coast-based Andrew Ferris, who at the time was the best Australian under-23 athlete over 3,000m and 10,000m. He was also the Queensland State Champion over 5,000m.

PJ Bosch, a middle-distance runner from South Australia, was another super-fast young athlete invited to compete.

Others picked to take part in the race included Gerard Gosens, a totally blind elite athlete who had run from Cairns to Brisbane three times; climbed to Everest Base Camp three times and was the Deputy CEO of the Royal Blind Foundation based in Brisbane.

Greg Martin, whose on-air suggestion had gotten the whole event moving, also laced up his running shoes to scale the 1,821 stairs.

2005 Australian and USA Men’s Open Water Ski Racing Champion, Peter Proctor was racing, as was Richard Barnes, a veteran of 15 Sydney Tower Run-Ups who had placed second at the two most recent editions.

Although there was a wealth of young athletic talent at the Q1, it was fully expected that the winner on the day would come from among the remaining four athletes.

Troy de Haas from Gisborne had won a bronze medal at the World Junior Orienteering Championships in 1999 and had gone on to represent Australia at senior championships.

He’d also won the Great Pyramid Race earlier in the year, a 12.2km run up and down Walsh’s Pyramid in Cairns, Queensland.

Although new to tower running, de Haas was predicted to put up a strong challenge to the pre-race favourites.

Troy de Haas at the 2007 Taipei 101 Run-Up

Mountain runner Daniel Green wasn’t well-established on the stairs like some of his rivals at Q1, but the 2000 Australian Mountain Running champion, who’d also finished fifth at the 2004 championships, was a threat, regardless.

The next entrant on the start list had been a star of mountain running and stair climbing for well over a decade.

David Osmond had won the 1994 and 1996 Sydney Tower Run-Ups. He’d also placed second twice at the Empire State Building Run-Up (1995, 1997).

David Osmond (seen here in 1995) was one of the pre-race favourites at Q1 Tower

Winner of the 1996 Australian Mountain Running Championships, Osmond had also been on the podium at the nationals in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

In excellent shape and with the experience required for successful stair climbing, Osmond was certain to be one of the front runners on Thursday 1 December.

Perhaps only one man stood a really solid chance of stopping Osmond claiming the $10,000 prize money, and unfortunately for him that man was the unrivalled king of tower running, Paul Crake.

Five-time winner and course record holder at the Empire State Building Run-Up, Crake was now a professional cyclist with the Corratec-Graz-Cyl team in Austria.

Paul Crake sets the course record of 9:33 at the 2003 Empire State Building Run-Up

Crake was also course record holder at the Sydney Tower and less than a fortnight before the event at Q1 he had won the inaugural race at what was then the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101.

Earlier in 2005 Crake had finished third at the Australian National Road Race Championships.

As expected from a pro cyclist, the Canberra man was in phenomenal shape.

Crake was alerted to the race by a friend in Canberra and headed back to Australia after the Taipei 101 Run-Up to try and score himself some extra funds, having already bagged himself a handsome £3,500 for winning in Taipei.

“I have the strength from cycling to go up the stairs and based on my result in Taipei I should be able to come out and have a good solid run,” Crake told reporters ahead of the race.

“Based on number of steps, number of floors, and the height of the building you can basically work it out but I don’t go into many details. My running time in the stairwell should be 7min 30sec, but you have to run around the block first. A time under 9min is definitely achievable.”

“Stair running is not actually that hard on the legs. It seems to be a lot harder on the lungs”, he added.

Paul Crake (right) on the podium at the 2005 Australian National Road Race Championships

The race began with a mass start and a run around the building before the athletes headed inside and onto the stairs.

By the time they hit the steps, Paul Crake was near the middle of the pack, having lost position on the run in. But with his experience and superior conditioning he was able to slowly work his way towards the front.

“The most important part of a stair race is to get a good start and the race around the building made that difficult for me,” said Crake.

“I’m not much good at running on the flat these days so when I got into the stairwell there were about seven or eight guys ahead of me. I was a bit apprehensive because it’s hard to judge how far they get in front.”

The Q1 Tower on Australia’s Gold Coast

Troy de Haas was first into the stairwell and held the lead for around two thirds of the way up the tower.

By the 50th floor, Crake had almost reeled him in.

“The Today Show had a camera there and they asked how I was going,” said de Haas.

“I said the bad ‘f’ word and literally I was gone already. From there on, I could hear Paul Crake coming. I didn’t know who it was but I assumed it was him.”

Pre-race speculation was that the winning time would be around the nine minute mark.

Crake surprised everyone by reaching the observation deck in 7:42 to claim the $10,000 winner’s prize.

“There was a bit of elbowing in the stairwell but nothing like what I’ve experienced overseas. I found a few other races more aggressive overseas,” said Crake after his win.

“The Aussies seem to be pretty good. When you go overseas and you have different cultures, different people have different standards of what’s right and wrong.”

“We were rubbing shoulders but I thought it was a fairly clean race. Australians know their manners.”

Second-placed David Osmond (8:15) picked up $5,000 and third-placed Troy de Haas (8:22) won $2,500.

The organisers also had some surprises at the awards ceremony.

The first woman to finish, mountain runner Hubertien Wichers (11:12), was handed a $3,000 cheque and two nights’ stay at Sunland’s Palazzo Versace.

Gerrard Gosens, the blind runner, clocked an impressive 12:04, and was thrilled to be awarded $5,000 along with a holiday at Palazzo Versace by Soheil Abedian, the managing director of Sunland Group which developed Q1.

Abedian hailed Gosens’ determination to overcome obstacles and said he was a true winner, even if he was not the first to cross the finish line.

“What do you mean I didn’t win? I didn’t see anyone in front of me,” joked Gosens, leaving the crowd in stitches.

Despite Austereo’s general manager Richard Barker’s hope before the race that the event would become an annual challenge, it would be 10 years before another race happened at Q1.

The new star of Australian mountain and tower running, Mark Bourne, would win that race in 2015.

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* Update: a few hours after writing this race preview, Vertical Montserrat 2020 was cancelled. New Covid-19 restrictions were implemented in Catalonia, meaning the race can no longer go ahead.

Enrique Santamaria Martinez and Alba Xandri will return to the 2,180-step Montserrat Funicular in Collbató, Spain this Saturday to defend the titles they won at the event in 2019.

Santamaria Martinez, who also finished third in 2018, will face off against the returning course record holder and 2018 winner Joan Freixa Marcelo.

Enrique Santamaria Martinez sets off on his winning run in 2019

Freixa Marcelo won the Firefighter division at last year’s event, completing the course in full safety gear. But this year the multi-athlete from Cardona will be back in the Open category, seeking to reclaim his crown.

He is one of only two athletes to have run the course in under 12 minutes, with his record standing at 11:38.

Runners will set off up the stairway at 90 second intervals, starting at 9am.

David Soler Sucarrats, who finished just eight seconds behind Santamaria Martinez at last year’s race, is also set to compete at Saturday’s event.

Freixa Marcelo will be the last man to set off in the Open division. Santamaria Martinez will start just ahead of him, guaranteeing a fantastic finish to the third edition of this stunning outdoor stair race.

Joan Freixa Marcelo winning Vertical Montserrat 2018

The race up the service stairs alongside the Montserrat Funicular was originally scheduled for the end of March, but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ongoing situation has reduced the field slightly, with fewer international runners in the line-up compared with last year. French athlete Joris Jaquard is one of the familiar non-Spanish runners set to make an appearance.

In the women’s division, two-time winner Alba Xandri is back to try and make it three wins in a row.

Alba Xandri on her way to winning Vertical Monserrat in 2019

The impressive Spanish mountain runner and cyclist was a clear winner last year, finishing over 90 seconds ahead of Rosa Maria Nieto Zamora.

Her winning time of 14:17 is the course record.

Nieto Zamora will also be back in action again on Saturday, but she will need her rival to have a massive off day in order to stop her winning a third title.

Some familiar names to look out for are Cristina Bonacina (ITA), Laure Chardin (FRA) and Marta Cosp Morata (ESP), who won the Beetham Tower stair race in Manchester, England back in 2019.

Christof Grossegger and Martina Potrč were the fastest finishers at the 454-step Tek Na Kalvarijo in Maribor, Slovenia on Saturday.

Austria’s Grossegger put in a brilliant performance to dip under the coveted 1:50 marker on his way to victory in a time of 1:49.33.

He chopped a massive eight seconds off the time he set at last year’s event, where he finished in third place.

Christof Grossegger on his way to victory at Tek Na Kalvarijo

“It was a gorgeous race today,” said Grossegger. “I started a little bit too fast and suffered at the last few steps – but I’m still very satisfied.”

“This staircase is really special. At the beginning it’s relatively flat, but the longer you run the steeper it gets. Just brutal. I was completely destroyed at the finish area for at least 20 minutes.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and a calendar clash with the popular Smarna Gora mountain race, also in Slovenia, meant the field of runners at Saturday’s stair race was slightly diminished.

2019 champion Klemen Španring opted to compete at Smarna Gora, as did last year’s fourth-place finisher Matjaz Miklosa, meaning some of Grossegger’s toughest rivals were missing from the action.

But, regardless, it would have taken a special performance to deny the in-form Austrian from taking victory.

Already boosted by his win at the Pyramidenkogel back in September, Grossegger was further full of fire following the strategic mishap in the qualifiers at the previous weekend’s Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen, which cost him a spot in the final.

As such he was untouchable in Maribor, with Martin Höck (2:02) and Uroš Pinter (2:03) rounding out the podium some way behind the Austrian.

Tek Na Kalvarijo men’s top three (image: Zdrava Zabava)

In the women’s division, Martina Potrč was also a clear winner as she finished the course in 2:31.

Martina Potrč on her way to victory

Second place went to Špela Jelovčan, fresh from her course record breaking run at Juriš na Hmezad a fortnight ago. She clocked 2:45.

Third place went to Valentina Videčnik who ran the 454 steps in 3:04.

See all the results from Tek Na Kalvarijo 2020.

Christof Grosseger and Rok Kuserbanj will be among the top athletes in Maribor, Slovenia on Saturday competing for top spot at the 11th edition of Tek Na Kalvarijo.

The 454-step outdoor race has been switched from its traditional atmospheric Friday night setting and will now take place on Saturday morning.

2019 champion Klemen Španring will not be returning to defend his title on the weekend. The Slovenian mountain runner will instead be competing at Smarna Gorna, one of the biggest mountain races on the international calendar.

Part of the course in Maribor

That leaves the door open for the in form Christof Grossegger to do better than the third-place finish he earned at last year’s race.

Grossegger recently took a confidence boosting win at the Pyramidenkogel in his native Austria.

But a mishap at last weekend’s Red Bull 400 race in Bischofshofen, Austria has left Grossegger frustrated and ready to make up for it.

“I can’t wait to do the race”, Grossegger told Tower Running UK.

“Confidence is of course pretty high, because I am in good shape. But my motivation is also high, because I’m angry about last weekend.

“I missed the finals at the Red Bull 400 because I tried to save as much energy as possible in the qualification run. But in the end I missed the cut-off time by one second. I really saved energy by going that slow – but for nothing.

“So therefore, new tactics for Maribor – just full gas from bottom to the top.

“I will miss the night race and the special colorful lights. It was an incredible atmosphere last year.”

In among those looking to compete with Grossegger will be Slovenia’s Rok Kuserbanj.

He won a couple of weeks back at the 265-step Juriš na Hmezad in Zalec, Slovenia, dethroning the two-time winner Rene Sluga.

Kuserbanj also held off the challenge of Simon Kmet at that race, who finished third.

Kmet took second at Tek Na Kalvarijo in 2019, so expect to see Kuserbanj finish higher than the 10th place finish he earned last year.

Also expect to see four-time winner Matjaz Miklosa among the tough Slovenian runners competing strongly for the podium, having narrowly missed out on third spot last year.

We’re guessing most of you have never seen complete footage from a stair race. In fact, extended footage from any tower run is frustratingly hard to come by. But the wait is now over. OK so it’s 25 years late, but below is video of the full Rialto Run-Up in 1995.

The line up of 40 men at the 1995 edition of the Rialto Run-Up in Melbourne was full of Australia’s very best tower runners. Along with bragging rights in the Australian stair climbing community, the men were also competing for a prize of $1,000AUD.

24-year-old Terry Purcell was back to defend the title he’d won in 1994. Just two years into his tower running career, he’d quickly established himself as the man to beat in Australia and was the pre-race favourite.

Purcell was heading into the race having already pulled off a course record-breaking win at the Sydney Tower Run-Up earlier in the year.

But the man from Geelong would have to put in a seriously strong performance in order to secure back-to-back wins at the 1,254-step tower in Melbourne, as his competition was among the best around.

Phil Griffiths was on the start line. He had won at the Rialto in 1993 and finished second there in 1992. He’d also won the Sydney Tower Run-Up in 1993. Then in 1994 he took third at the Empire State Building-Run Up.

1992 Rialto Run-Up winner Glen Devison was competing too. He’d also finished only two seconds behind Griffiths in the 1993 race, so knew the Rialto course very well.

At the ESBRU in 1993, Devison had made it an Australian one-two as he finished second behind the legendary Geoff Case.

Predicted to be one of Purcell’s toughest rivals on the day was the superstar youngster David Osmond.

David Osmond

Mountain runner Osmond had won the Sydney Tower Run-Up in 1994 on his stair running debut.

As a result he’d earned himself an invitation to the 1995 Empire State Building Run-Up, and when there he’d taken an impressive second place behind Germany’s Kurt Konig.

A pre-race profile on Osmond said he had also enjoyed a stair running triumph in Canberra, which was probably at the inaugural 403-step Telstra Tower Run-Up in 1994.

As if getting to watch that amazing line up of tower runners competing at their peak isn’t good enough, two-time Rialto winner and three-time ESBRU winner Geoff Case is co-commentating on the race.

Now sit back and enjoy the fantastic footage from the 1995 Rialto Run-Up.

Špela Jelovčan set a new course record at the third edition of Juriš na Hmezad in Zalec, Slovenia on Saturday.

Jelovčan ran the 265-step course with the required 5kg bag of hops on her back in 1:29.78, to take five seconds off the previous best time set by fellow Slovenian Petra Pogačar at last year’s event.

It was a huge improvement for the athlete from Polhov Gradec who finished fourth at the race in 2019.

Jelovčan was a clear winner, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Maruša Stermecki (1:44.96) in second. Karmen Štih took third in 1:49.23.

Špela Jelovčan sets off on her record-breaking run at Juriš na Hmezad
Kuserbanj puts an end to Sluga’s winning run

Rok Kuserbanj put in a solid run in the men’s race to stop Austria’s Rene Sluga from winning Juriš na Hmezad for the third time in a row.

Course record holder Sluga was the pre-race favourite coming into Saturday’s event, but Kuserbanj put in a powerful run to shock the Austrian and take first place with a 1:12.95 finish.

Kuserbanj had finished second behind the experienced Sluga in 2018 and then took third in 2019. The athlete from Braslovče finally completed his collection of every podium position with this impressive win.

The men’s top six (plus Karmen Štih, 3rd woman) at Juriš na Hmezad 2020

Rene Sluga was just over one second behind, finishing in 1:14.01. Simon Kmet was third in 1:16.69.

For more race-day images, head to Atletsko tekaško društvo Savinjčan ŽALEC.

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 4Stairs event in Austria in 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